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Music of the Year 2014 Categories

Most Anticipated Music of 2015
April 4, 2015 – Every year, we run a feature showcasing our most anticipated games for the upcoming year. We've never done so with music, and... we have no good excuse for it. Based on what we know is (or might) release in 2015 and the past work of each of these composers, several of the RPGFan staff discuss the music their ears are most lusting after for 2015.

Caitlin Argyros
Xenoblade Chronicles X
I was a huge fan of the music in the original Xenoblade. When Hiroyuki Sawano was announced as the composer for the next game in the series, I made a point of checking out some of his previous work. Known for big name anime like Attack on Titan and Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, Sawano impressed me with his blend of electronic and symphonic music, and I felt certain that Xenoblade was in good hands. Then came the Treehouse demo during E3 2014. The music was a little hard to hear over the energetic commentary, but I heard enough to get me excited for the game and eventual soundtrack release. The Christmas release of the E3 2013 trailer theme was just the icing on the cake. I need this game, and its soundtrack, NOW.
Final Fantasy XV
Whatever your reservations may be about the story, characters, or gameplay, it's hard to deny the dramatic mastery of Yoko Shimomura. While I may not be her #1 fan (that position has been taken by our very own Stephen Meyerink), even I am excited by the few snippets of music we've heard in trailers. If they're any indication of the final product, the soundtrack for this game will have gorgeous orchestral pieces full of movement and energy. I, for one, can't wait to hear more!
Ys 8
The best thing about Ys games is the music. There, I said it. The combat certainly is fun, but it's the rocking tunes that make me want to keep playing. We know very little about this new entry in the series other than that Adol and Dogi will once again be adventuring and getting themselves into trouble. It's pretty much a foregone conclusion, though, that the music will be awesome. The only real question is will Vacant Interference be dethroned as best Ys boss theme of all time?

Have you heard...

Re:Birth II -Sen- / "SaGa" BATTLE ARRANGE

Falcom's JDK Band merge with Kenji Ito to bring new life to Square Enix's underdog RPG series.

Kyle Miller
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Having seen and heard some of the Witcher 3 by now, I'm already astounded by the beauty of its soundtrack. The relatively samey soundscape from the first two games has blossomed into something similar, yet more varied and dynamic, perfect for the largest Witcher game yet. I've heard some rather daring songs so far — songs you might not expect to hear in a dark fantasy setting. Can you imagine hearing this while walking the world?
Bloodborne
What kind of nightmarish soundtrack will From Software compose to accompany the visual and tactile nightmare that is all too swiftly approaching, inexorably and ominously? They have included some fantastic soundtracks in their games thus far, and they're always careful and precise with the use of sound and music. The key to enjoying this one will likely be hearing it in context. It's all about the execution.
The Banner Saga 2
An optimistic inclusion, perhaps, but an important one nonetheless. The first Banner Saga was my Soundtrack of the Year for 2014, and I expect nothing less from its sequel.

Mike Sollosi
Cosmic Star Heroine
I love HyperDuck SoundWorks's soundtracks for Dust: An Elysian Tail and Penny Arcade's On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4, so I'm definitely excited to see them bring their sound to Zeboyd Games's new science fiction-flavored RPG. HyperDuck released preview versions of Cosmic Star Heroine's main theme, battle theme, and spy base theme in late 2014, and each new tidbit got my ears salivating. OK, that image was kinda gross, sorry for that. I'm a bit too excited.
Bravely Second
I'm well aware that Revo and Sound Horizon aren't working on Bravely Second, but the first game had such a strong audio presentation that I can't help but be interested in its sequel. Ryo (of the music group Supercell) has a strong record in the world of Japanese pop-rock, and I have faith that Bravely Default's dev team will work closely with Ryo to create a comprehensive soundtrack that brings Bravely Second's setting and characters to life. I look forward to seeing what my Cat Masters and Pastry Chefs end up bobbing along to while they're murdering asterisk holders to steal their powers.
Persona 5
The two game soundtracks that have dominated my listening time the most over the past three years are Persona 3 and Persona 4. I was a little late to the Persona party, but since my Persona obsession blossomed in 2012, I've taken in as much of the Atlus sound team's music as I can, from the Reincarnation remix albums to the Sound Selections of the earlier Persona games. No other game series has a musical tradition that blends pop, rock, hip-hop, electronica, and classical music sounds in such a fascinating manner. Persona 5 is going to be one of those times where I have a soundtrack half-memorized before I play an English-language version, and part of the fun of playing the game will be discovering the in-game contexts of all my favorite tracks.

Have you heard...

The Banner Saga

Austin Wintory demonstrates his extraordinary range in this masterful collection of solemn tunes.

Pat Gann
The Legend of Legacy
The game itself looks exactly like something I want. The music is by Masashi Hamauzu, my personal favorite composer. I want an OST and many different arrangements (electronica, piano, orchestral, etc.). That would be ideal.
The Banner Saga 2
The first game featured amazing music by Austin Wintory. I expect nothing less in the sequel.
Final Fantasy XV
This is a long-shot, since it may not make release until 2016. Should it, however, make a Japanese release in 2015, I will import the soundtrack and surely cherish it for the rest of my days.

Brigid Choi
Bastion for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita
It's not a secret that I'm a huge fan of Supergiant Games and composer Darren Korb, seeing as how my first review on RPGFan was for Transistor, and my first interview was with Darren Korb. Sometime in 2015, Supergiant's debut game Bastion is moving from PC to PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita. It'll be interesting to see how the consoles change the indie game's beloved music, if they do at all. Maybe, because of the storage limitations of a handheld console, Korb will have to whip up some new tunes. Maybe, because it's been four years since the release of Bastion, Supergiant will re-release the soundtrack with new songs or different versions of old ones (perhaps some hummed tunes like in in the Transistor OST). Whatever will change in the new console sound (if anything changes), let's hope the genre will stick to Korb's invented category of "acoustic frontier trip-hop.
Final Fantasy Type-0
There will/should be more obvious changes in the music of Final Fantasy Type-0 from PlayStation Portable to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, not only in quality but also in quantity. Come on, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U has more than triple the number of songs than its counterpart on Nintendo 3DS! Square Enix has got to at least try to match that! I have full faith that Takeharu Ishimoto (The World Ends With You, Dissidia Final Fantasy), out of all the Square-Enix composers (besides Mr. Nobuo Uematsu the All-Mighty) will do something great, creative, and exciting with this move from handheld console to home console. Get ready to rock on!
Fable Legends
The Fable series has always had solid American RPG music: orchestrated, grand, boisterous, but also some mysterious, mystical pieces here and there. Those may be inspired by Danny Elfman (Tim Burton's right hand man), who hopefully comes back in Fable Legends after leaving Fable III completely in the hands of Russell Shaw. More well-known movie composers and pop composers (Paul McCartney and Destiny in 2014) getting involved in video games is important to bridge the gap between gamers and non-gamers, to show non-gamers that game music isn't just background music, and it's definitely evolved since the Super Mario Bros. theme (although, let's be real, that is one hell of a theme). Maybe, if Elfman comes back on the team, a video game soundtrack will have a shot at the 2015 Grammys after the absence of video game nominations in the 2014 Grammys.

Have you heard...

Grinsia OST

Shannon Mason's SNES-inspired soundtrack graces Grinsia for its 3DS/Steam release.

Marcos Gaspar
Tales of Zestiria
When I read that Sakuraba and Go Shiina were working on this project, I felt my heart skip several beats. While I am impressed with several of Sakuraba's Tales of soundtracks, nothing prepared me for Shiina's Legendia, which left me dumbfounded by its beauty and dramatic orchestral expressiveness. I desperately hope that the workload is distributed half-and-half or more leaning towards Shiina. Don't get me wrong, I entered the series through Tales of Eternia, and its soundtrack is one of my favorites, but Shiina gave the series a new style and flavor I look forward to hearing again in this soundtrack. I crave the Shiina.
VA-11 HALL-A Second Round OST
For the life of me, I can't remember when I came across Garoad's (Michael Kelly) soundtrack for VA-11 HALL-A's prologue. What I do remember is that I had placed it on the back burner for a bit until I exhausted some of my listening docket. That was, perhaps, one of my biggest regrets last year. When I finally loaded the media player, I was treated to a succulent, flavorful arrangement of electronic music.

After listening through the first soundtrack to VH, VA-11 HALL-A Prologue OST — Sounds From The Future, I found myself greatly reminded of 80s anime music and games like Snatcher. What also fed my nostalgia for that generation in gaming is VH's artistic direction. When both its music and graphics come together, my heart sighs to the comfort of an endearing familiarity in the present.

Having already listened to several tracks on Garoad's Soundcloud and music streams, I can say with confidence that the full VA-11 HALL-A Second Round OST is going to be a promising experience. What has also made me greatly anticipate VH2R's release is both the confidence and drive of the composer to give us something to remember, as quoted below through an exchange of emails:

"I'm very confident that people who enjoy the soundtrack to VA-11 HALL-A Prologue will enjoy this one even more. I was unsure if people would enjoy the style that Prologue had, but the feedback has been so wonderful and has motivated me to take that style to a new level. I'm excited about it."

With that said, I look forward to seeing the day that both game and soundtrack release. Godspeed.
Shiness
Eight tracks. Eight tracks and Hazem Hawash (Producer/Composer) has me helplessly hooked on what I believe will be a future memorable collection of bright and dulcet melodies. There is no doubt that he has crafted these pieces with the influence of Japanese composers, and I hope he continues to seek inspiration from them to brighten this soundtrack even more.

I understand that Hawash wishes to hire an orchestra to perform his pieces, which I hope he can somehow manage. I'm not quite sure that will be possible for the game, due to its current budget, but I hope he continues writing pieces like "Forest LightSide Theme" and "There's a snake mountain out there," so that if he ever does come up with the funds in the future, he'll have a full program's worth.

Davi Tesnovich
Xenoblade Chronicles X
I was pretty worried about this OST for a while. The first game had a great soundtrack, and that ended up being crazy important since most players spent roughly a hundred hours crawling around Bionis and Mechonis. When I got around to looking up who they locked in for the new entry, I saw the name "Hiroyuki Sawano," and it didn't click. Where did I know that name from?

The answer was Attack on Titan, which I absolutely adore, but I couldn't recall any music from it off-hand. I assume I was too arrested by heart-pounding excitement to notice the music, because it turns out to be great music. Really unique and diverse, but... maybe not quite electronic enough for me. For Xenoblade. So I dug a bit deeper.

Kill la Kill is a show I never felt the need to check out, despite hearing loads of glowing reviews. Sawano did that OST too, and holy crap, this is exactly what Dr. Mario ordered. Sawano really plays around with the contrast between traditional, acoustic instruments and modern, digital synths to give you the fealing of Robots Swordancing on a Freaking Mountain. I'd suggest booting up the Weltall's sound system and blasting some of these tunes if you're fixin' to hype up for Xenoblade Chronicles X's release.
Persona 5
I feel like Shoji Meguro's been teasing me. Regardless of your feelings about things he's done like Catherine and SMT: Strange Journey, you have to acknowledge that he hasn't given us a real follow-up on Persona music since 2008.

Okay, I do love that. It's great when composers don't push themselves to recreate the same experiences over and over. It was cool when Motoi Sakuraba started doing more orchestral stuff, and similarly I loved Yasunori Mitsuda's seemingly out-of-character work on Xenosaga. You know what though? Most of the time I just want those guys to do their thing, and seven years is a long time to wait for it.
Terra Battle (Download Starter Songs)
What do Yasunori Mitsuda, Yoko Shimomura, and Kenji Ito all have in common? Kind of a lot, actually... but right now we're talking about Terra Battle!

While Terra Battle grows, it seems Hironobu Sakaguchi is going through his epic list of connections. At the 1.6-1.8 million download milestones, which it's almost certain to meet this year, Terra Battle will be bringing in these three composers to add songs alongside Nobuo Uematsu's work.

Uematsu has already done a great job on this OST, and even more of his music is promised via the download starter, as well as a live concert and an official OST release. There's a lot to be interested in as Mistwalker continues to try their hand at the mobile market.





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