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Composing Dragon Age III

Much simpler blog post this time. Who should do the music for Dragon Age III?

Inon Zur

Let's get the most obvious choice out of the way right off the bat: Inon Zur[1]. Beyond composing the two Dragon Age games, he's also helped compose for Crysis, the FPS Fallouts and Power Rangers, and many more.

The Good

Consistency. Inon Zur has already done the first two, so maintaining him as a pick would keep the "sound" of the games in check. He's also a fairly talented individual, as can be evidenced by his massive catalogue of projects he's been involved with. Another obvious but relevant detail is that he has experience working with BioWare, we aren't in danger of a large disagreement that will impede the game's quality.

The Bad

As cruel as it sounds, the soundtrack was not a memorable aspect of the Dragon Age games. It wasn't horrible, but it is certainly not a highlight either, it was simply "there". Same goes for the original Crysis. And before people list off Fallout and Power Rangers as memorable soundtracks, it should be noted he did not right the "radio songs" of Fallout (Set the World on Fire) nor the actual Power Rangers theme, he simply worked on their soundtracks.

Jeremy Soule

This gentleman [2] has worked on a plethora of games, many of them having more memorable soundtracks. Perhaps the important three for Dragon Age fans would be the Elder Scrolls series (Since Morrowind), Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Neverwinter Nights (One and two).

The Good

His style matches up with the Dragon Age games wonderfully, and his tracks tend to be far more memorable (I think we all know the tribal beats that start each Elder Scrolls game, to say nothing of the previously mentioned two. Also, moreso than Inon, he can do alternative styles, some of which might be beneficial to Dragon Age (Gothic, from Total Annihilation and Dawn of War, which would be useful for Val Royeaux; Tribal from Kohan and Dungeon Siege, which would be useful for the Qunari's areas). Another small benefit is that he has worked with BioWare before, much like Inon has.

The Bad

Well, obviously the style is going to be slightly different that Inon's consistent sound, which some may find jarring. On top of that, Soule's catalogue, while even larger than Inon's, is much more spread across different genres, meaning he has less experience in strictly high-fantasy games than Zur does.

Hans Zimmer

Let's be honest - you already know who Hans Zimmer [3] is. He's been involved with every Christopher Nolan film since the first Batman, every Pirates of the Caribbean film, and has done the soundtracks for Crysis 2, Skylanders, Gears of War 3 and Assassin's Creed: Revelations.

The Good

Experience. Hans Zimmer has done EVERYTHING, and tends to do it damn well. While there's few high-fantasy projects he's done (I count four on his listings), he has shown an outstanding adaptibilty, and I don't think there's any denying his talent as a composer. His scores tend to be very distinct in their style too, which makes them memorable.

The Bad

That same distinct style can sometimes work against him. While it fit Crysis 2, Gears of War 3 and Assassin's Creed well, Skylanders almost sounded as if he didn't know how to tame things down. The score was either powerful and unique, or it was a paint-by-numbers little jingle. This presents and issue with a game like Dragon Age which needs "downtime" in the music on occasion to set the mood.

The Mass Effect Team

I'm listing this as a group entry, because all three Mass Effect games have had a team of four individuals: Jack Wall, Richard Jacques, David Kates and Sam Hulick did the first game. Richard Jacques was replaced by Jimmy Hinson in Mass Effect 2. And Mass Effect 3 had Jack Wall replaced by Clint Mansell.

The Good

Well, not that fans care, but financially, the team is effectively "owned" by EA, which drives costs down (You're paying salary, instead of contracts). This also means the team has every reason to stay aboard and polish the sound as much as possible, which improves quality. The games also have amazing soundtracks to them, so quality really isn't an issue...

The Bad

...But stability is. The team keeps changing and replacing members which means there's no guarantees that the next game they do will resonate nearly as much. Furthermore, while the team has phenomenal orchestral and electronic themes, these don't translate to an aptitude at the fantasy style of music.

Darren Korb

And now for the complete wildcard, Darren Korb. I have no link to provide, because if you know who Korb is, you have heard the ONLY soundtrack he's done professionally: Bastion.

The Good

Talent. By god is the music in Bastion something amazing. It is completely unlike any other soundtrack to a game on the planet, and it is not too uncommon to hear people list off the soundtrack to Bastion as one of the favourite parts of the game. It also has a style that almost sounds like it could fit a high-fantasy game, if he had chosen to go that way.

The Bad

I mentioned the part about being a wildcard, right? He's inexperienced and unproven, and the only soundtrack he's done has a heavy electronic and country element mixed in, neither of which would fit Dragon Age in the slightest.

As soon as I figure out how to add a poll, I will do so, but in the mean time, feel free to post who you think should do the music, and why!

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