Could it be said that a game is only as good as its theme song? In all the various theme songs that we’ve covered on this site, it may be that, if nothing else, greeting players with memorable music upon starting a game is a very good thing. Not only does a good theme song set the stage for a game, it can also impress upon players the magnitude (or triviality) of what’s coming. And sometimes, like here with the theme of Fallout 4, it makes one feel, if I may, at home.
Video from YouTube User Nox.
I’ve written here before about how some game opening instill that “welcome home” feeling, and when I restarted Fallout 4 recently, hearing its theme conjured up those exact feelings. Those feelings of comfort and ease, along with something of a quiet splendor. Thinking immediately of main theme of another Bethesda juggernaut, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the theme of Fallout 4 is far less grand, far less sweeping, and far less punchy.
And yet, it is no less beautifully composed. And what’s key is that its repeating minor chords are familiar, having been taken directly from the theme to Fallout 3 and used in a different manner in the theme to Fallout: New Vegas. Those chords are what makes one think “I’m playing a Fallout game.” That sort of musical branding is common in games, but it only works when the game underneath it works, too. Fallout 4 isn’t perfect, but it sure works darn well.
If you’re not familiar with Fallout 4, then the theme at least implies that you’re in for a treat. Starting simply with a few light orchestral notes that almost immediately fall into the minor chord, this form mimics the game’s simple beginnings. You and your family living a peaceful life. From there, the music builds lightly and the tones are imbued with a sense of foreboding. A terrible event forces you to take action…and then things get even worse. The song ends as quickly and as quietly as it started, with that simple beginning. Except this time the notes are filled with hope. Despite what has happened, you, now a lone wanderer, are ready find your family in a place that’s desperate for new beginnings.
Of every track on Fallout 4’s soundtrack, its theme is the one that resonates most. Every time now when I start up the game, I feel welcome, ready, and willing to take on whatever new challenges await me in the Wasteland.
Lede image, © Bethesda Softworks, LLC (2015), was captured by the author on the PS4 during gameplay.