Every second, Fortnite gains two new players. The industry-reshaping success of this battle royale title has given birth to a whole new genre of online gaming. As more and more similar games enter the fight for the playerbase, it’s becoming increasingly harder to surprise anyone. Yet, everybody tries – some of the studios that have taken up the gauntlet include Valve, DICE, Treyarch and Electronic Arts. Apex Legends, EA’s new and shiny toy, stands as one of the more successful answers to Epic Games’ earthquake, bringing more than 50 million players together. Could the music have aided in that?
Combining approachable pathos and tension with fun.
Possibly so, because Stephen Barton’s soundtrack is tailored for success. With a perfect execution of Zimmer-esque orchestra/electronic mix and so much energy within the notes, the British artist is sure to steal the hearts of many. Combining approachable pathos and tension with fun, Apex Legends’ score brings together the most desired traits in modern media scoring and shines when it’s placed in the game. There, it allows itself a perfect amount of space within the player’s attention. While not too aggressive and not too distant either, little is to be found in terms of any gameplay-related flaws.
The matter gets more complicated when the music is stripped of the gameplay. Eventually, the Hollywood nature of the soundtrack starts to glimmer through, and it becomes increasingly hard not to notice the many compromises made in order for the score to be easy to digest. Being so approachable, Apex Legends’ soundtrack sacrifices freshness, and without the gameplay to save it, could quickly repel listeners tired of well-worn blockbuster pathos. Its greatest virtue and saving grace here seems to be the main melody, extremely catchy and engaging, but with such frequent presence on the album, one starts to wonder about its longevity.
When we break down the music, there isn’t really anything besides the dominant theme to keep us from playing other records. In the beginning, the melody serves as a wild card that hooks us to the whole soundtrack, but with every listen, it seems more and more apparent that we didn’t experience love at first sight, that it was just a crush. What does not help either is the runtime (the Spotify release being only 18 minutes long) and a safe approach in arrangement – so safe, in fact, that it’s hard to distinguish one piece from the other, and the group of tracks resembles a hastily-produced remix album. It’s a shame, because the „original mix” has so much potential.
The score will definitely find shelter in many playlists.
…Potential that fell victim to clichéd string ostinatos and synthesizer rhythms. It’s hard to blame the composer for the direction EA took, though – this is nothing more than necessary evil – and Apex Legends’ soundtrack does what it’s supposed to, after all. It caters to the game’s needs excellently. Any blockbuster-related complaints are thrown out of the window once we get to jump into the zone and start pillaging nearby containers for loot. By then, the music is gone. But the thrill remains, and that is all that matters, right?
It’s hard for me not to speak about Apex Legends’ soundtrack without thinking about its „guilty pleasure” nature. With a very safe approach and great craftsmanship, the score will definitely find shelter in many playlists. Although it’s more like fast food than a proper meal, there is some charm to be found in the album. Too bad it’s all synthetic.