The Most Immersive Soundtracks in Video Games

Soundtracks can make or break the immersion level in a video game. Melancholy tunes add to the emotion during tragic moments, while creepy themes make horror titles even scarier. As with visual fidelity and gameplay scope, music quality also increases as newer technology becomes available. Over the years, gamers have cried, battled, and been shocked by several unique soundtracks. Many praise these soundtracks for their ability to evoke serious emotions in players.

1. The Last of Us (2013)

The Last of Us (2013)
Image Credit: Sony Computer Entertainment.

Fan favorite developer Naughty Dog has consistently exceeded the present standards for its video games. The game’s engrossing narrative benefited significantly from the emotional soundtrack by Gustavo Santaolalla. Every track captures the emptiness and hopelessness of the world in this game. Critical story segments gain more weight and hit harder because of the devastating themes.

2. God of War: Ragnarok (2022)

God of War Ragnarok (2022)
Image Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment.

Ragnarok‘s soundtrack portrays war as a last resort and an unwelcome path for the protagonist, Kratos. The high stakes are accompanied by tension when the tracks play. Without diving into spoilers, much of the game involves discovering what fate has in store for Kratos and Atreus. As the story progresses, so does the unpredictability of the melodies as more secrets are uncovered.

3. Valheim (2021)

Valheim (2021)
Image Credit: Coffee Stain Publishing.

Valheim‘s simple, cozy tracks always set players at ease, no matter how much danger surrounds them. Adventures into the deadly swamps or forests are met with terror-inducing tracks. This game’s soundtrack is unique to every moment and considers where the player is. Many players prefer to rest by the fireplace, cook their favorite food, and relax to the calming melodies.

4. Minecraft (2011)

Minecraft (2011)
Image Credit: United Artists.

Minecraft‘s homey themes have always been fan favorites and are often remixed several times a year. This game’s soundtrack produces comfort; some even use it as background music to sleep or study. Players can even craft a “jukebox” to play individual records they come across in the Minecraft world. Alongside relaxation, many tracks emphasize adventure and the need to get one more diamond.

5. Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018)

Red Dead Redemption 2
Image Credit: Rockstar Games.

Renowned developer Rockstar’s games always have upbeat tracks enhancing action-fueled sequences. Red Dead Redemption 2 is no different, but it also has plenty of emotional themes. The somber tunes that play as soon as the game begins indicate the end of an era. The reign of outlaws is ending, and that’s effectively demonstrated in the soundtrack.

6. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011)

The Elder Scrolls V_ Skyrim (2011)
Image Credit: Bethesda Softworks.

Skyrim‘s community continually improves the game with mods adding more to the base game. However, the community unanimously agrees the current soundtrack is sufficient for adventure fans. The tracks convey a sense of epic scope like no other. The first time players absorb the soul of a dragon, they hear a roaring theme as a reward. Even the battle music is iconic and instantly gets players in the mood for action.

7. Battlefield 4 (2013)

Battlefield 4 (2013)
Image Credit: Electronic Arts.

Battlefield games always have a variant of the same intense theme. Battlefield 4‘s version is arguably the most creative because it upped the bass and made it even more legendary. At the time of release, the marketing strategy included showcasing community gameplay clips in an edit featuring the bass-heavy Battlefield music.

8. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015)

The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt (2015)
Image Credit: CD Projekt.

The Witcher 3 has a wide variety of tracks, each designed from the ground up for the unique locations of the game. Velen’s theme has hints of devastation, while Skellige’s track feels mysterious. The battle music is some of the best we’ve ever heard and never gets repetitive. Fans of the game agree that most tracks capture the brutality of war in a fantastical setting exceptionally well.

9. Outer Wilds (2019)

Outer Wilds (2019)
Image Credit: Annapurna Interactive.

Outer Wilds has several homey themes that may initially seem out of place in a game about exploring space. However, once they’re a few minutes into talking to characters, players discover the background music fits well with the adventurous tone of the game. Players progress in the story by discovering more about the secrets of the ancient tribe of Nomai. The soundtrack makes more sense as players approach the solution.

10. Celeste (2018)

Celeste (2018)
Image Credit: Maddy Makes Games.

Celeste‘s gameplay has plenty of jumping, dashing, and puzzle-solving to get from one point to another. The soundtrack fits well and increases in speed during chases or high-momentum parkour. Each level has a unique tone, and players are treated to a rewarding theme by the end of the game.

11. Hades (2018)

Hades (2018)
Image Credit: Supergiant Games.

The soundtrack of Hades always maintains its swift pace and never gives players a second to breathe. The gameplay involves a fair amount of button mashing and sweating at boss fights. It’s only fitting that the soundtrack keeps up and adds to the chaos. Despite the intense lower levels, the tracks become slightly calmer as players ascend towards freedom.

12. Command & Conquer: Generals (2003)

Command & Conquer: Generals
Image Credit: EA Games.

In this game, players are treated to fierce tunes as they build their armies for war. The game has different tracks depending on the army players choose to play and their situation. All the themes have a level of awesomeness unmatched by most other titles. Some players even choose a specific country’s army because of their soundtrack.

13. Sifu (2021)

Sifu (2021)
Image Credit: Sloclap.

Sifu‘s robust combat system has players fluidly punching, kicking, and dodging on the go. The upbeat, techno-tinged soundtrack lifts spirits and adds to the momentum. All the levels are unique in their own way, with fitting themes. The Museum has an almost eerie and minimalistic track, while the Club has a fast-paced party tune. The soundtrack does a masterful job of immersing players into the game, no matter what they’re doing.

14. Before Your Eyes (2021)

Before Your Eyes (2021)
Image Credit: Skybound Games.

The developers recommend using your eyes via the webcam to navigate and control the game. The narrative is about replaying memories of a whole person’s life, but blinking means moving forward in time for an unknown period. This game contains several heartfelt and emotional moments, which the soundtrack enhances. Somber tunes and melancholic themes make even the strongest of us feel lonely. On the plus side, the happy moments often have an upbeat, jolly track playing in the background.

15. Outlast 2 (2017)

Outlast 2
Image Credit: Red Barrels.

Outlast 2‘s soundtrack directly relates to the gameplay and is sometimes used to surprise players. In this game, the protagonist must navigate a secluded village filled with deranged villagers to search for his lost wife. The terrifying themes make players uneasy and pick up during chases and jumpscares. Many would agree the tunes played when exploring the school add to the terror.

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