In a year of standout soundtracks, NieR: Automata still has to let the rest know how it's done. Spanning a wide range of sounds and styles, the soundtrack acts as much as important a force in the game as the characters that inhabit it. Even tracks heavily sampled from the previous game are used to incredible effect, enhancing any scene containing them.
Then there is the superb decision to have an entire chip tune score to accompany the hacking minigame, seamlessly transitioning from the current soundtrack to the lo-fi companion. It serves as an example of the music direction throughout the whole game being top notch, from the rising vocal scores during boss fights to the off kilter yet cheery theme of Pascal's village. NieR: Automata does many things right, but thanks to the main composer Keiichi Okabe and wonderful tracks such as the many variations of "Weight of the World," the music is undeniably its strongest aspect.
While it didn't take the top spot, Persona 5 placing as one of the top RPG soundtracks of the year is not the "Last Surprise" we'll have in store as we "Break it Down" on our awards. If you loved this soundtrack and "Regret" that it wasn't higher, "Have a Short Rest" and realize that "Life Goes On". When you look "Beneath the Mask" you'll see that you need to "Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There" to find that everything will be "Alright". If not, "Life Will Change" and all this "Talk" about "Rivers in the Desert" will get "So Boring" that you'll look at this write up with "Suspicion" and wonder "What's Going On?" If you made it all the way to the end of this, I consider that a "Triumph".
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 certainly has a massive legacy to live up to, considering the previous two games in the series have some of the best RPG music of all time. Thankfully, it is more than up to the task, providing music slightly reminiscent of the style of the original Xenoblade Chronicles thanks in part to Yasunori Mitsuda and ACE+ returning, but mostly forging its own path that wonderfully matches the various locales in the colorful world. Combat is elevated with a number of excellent rock-based tracks, with an especially good boss themes this time around. Though reused on a few occasions, story sequences often have wonderful themes that help elevate some of the most important events in the game's long and twisting tale. It may not have managed to be the best RPG soundtrack of the year, but it easily matches the quality of its predecessors, if not exceeds them.
by Zack Webster, Michael A. Cunningham, Michael Apps