I recently had the opportunity to play Borderlands 3 during a preview session. That dub-step boss was a musical treat; can you talk about how that all came together and what you were setting out to do with it? The way it uses music is so fascinating.
Great! I love that you noticed that. I wrote 10 minutes of end boss music to make all that come together like that. I had this idea of making the end boss music for Eden-6 something that really stands out with an atmosphere that lifts you up. I am a huge fan of boss battles and I’m fascinated with how games use boss music; Japanese games perform these types of gameplay moments especially well. Gearbox was onboard with this approach but when we put it in the game we all realized that we needed something different to set it up before we could give people this crazy melodic lift in spirits.
To make that transition work I wrote a track for the boss battle that’s really heavy and bombastic before introducing such a shift in uplifting mood. So if you ace this epic boss battle right away you’ll move on faster and the game will take you to the next world. But if you take longer in battle the game rewards you with a new level of atmosphere which gives you a feel of rising hope, that you can overcome this challenge. On the album, that track is called “Tranquility Achieved”.
“Borderlands 3 features a really deep interactive music system with many layers and modular pieces that are randomly put together in-game, so the music sounds a bit different every time you play the game.” — Jesper Kyd
I’ve read that you’re challenging yourself to experiment with new sounds for Borderlands 3. What does this mean?
Well, I am always looking at new ways to break the mold of what is expected and then take things further or go in a totally different unexpected direction that really rewards the gamers as well as fitting the game perfectly. There are so many interesting things that can only be done in the games medium and following the path of scoring games more traditionally is a lost opportunity, since I feel we have an opportunity to create something unique or surprising.
For example, once you finally make it to the end part of Eden-6, the music track “Treasures Of The Vault” starts with a set of upbeat motivational combat cues, to get the fun factor going out in full force. It’s like a reward for the game player while at the same time reminding you that you are finally here, that this is what you have been looking for, now fight and go claim your reward. These types of ideas are important to me as a gamer and I always think like a gamer when scoring video games. I really have to give credit to Gearbox and Raison Varner for allowing my creativity to run wild during the making of this score.
What else should people know about the soundtrack for Borderlands 3?
Borderlands 3 features a really deep interactive music system with many layers and modular pieces that are randomly put together in-game, so the music sounds a bit different every time you play the game. In addition to a more unique playing experience, this results in some really interesting soundtrack versions of the music. For example, there are exploration tracks on the soundtrack such as “Enter Floodmoor Basin” which are over nine minutes in duration as well as action music tracks such as “Treasures Of The Vault” which is an eight-minute piece. And these pieces of music never repeat any parts or themes but keep moving forward and developing. So it’s progressive in structure. The soundtrack, which also features music by co-composers Michael McCann, Finishing Move and Raison Varner, is almost six hours long and there’s a vinyl release on the way as well!