Though my gaming plate is pretty full, I recently decided to add in a heap of Fallout 3. I’m specifically after its DLC, and namely the one titled “Into the Pitt.” Why that one in particular? Because some time this year, Fallout 76’s newest expansion, The Pitt, is supposed to be released. It’s supposed to fulfill Bethesda’s longtime promise to add expeditions out of Appalachia to the game. Along with everyone else who’s been chomping at the bit for more Fallout 76 content, I’m looking forward to it. Until then, I got it in my head that maybe I should visit that which The Pitt is based on, hence me jumping back into Fallout 3.
Getting to the point where I felt comfortable tackling Fallout 3’s DLC meant treading again through a good portion of the first half of the game’s story. (I previously played the game on our Xbox 360, which suffered a sad death a couple years ago. So, I started fresh with the game on the Xbox One.) As such, I’ve found myself head over heels once again for its incredible soundtrack. Having spent far too long within the twangy, acoustic sounds of Fallout 76, I had completely forgotten how mysterious and powerful the ambient themes were for burnt and battered Washington, D. C. Every song fits and hits home, but one stands out more to my ears now than I first remembered. That song is “Pieces of the Past.”
This is a song that plays quietly in the background while exploring the Capital Wasteland, and it stands out against the game’s other exploration themes because of…well…it’s bells. If you listen, you’ll hear the regular “chiming” of diffused, fuzzy bells in the background. Upon re-hearing the song for the first time, I couldn’t help but shake the feeling that I had heard them before. It drove me lightly batty throughout every session I spent with the game, because I simply couldn’t place why they sounded so familiar. As I continued playing, “Pieces of the Past” started taking me out of the game due to distraction. It simply kept sounding so alien compared to the game’s other music.
And that’s when it hit me. Metroid! Metroid Prime! “Phenandra Drifts!” (And yes, the realization did feel like I had been hit over the head with several exclamation points!)
In the spirit of Metroid games old and new, Metroid Prime’s ambient soundtrack is nothing short of stellar. As the title says, this particular theme plays when you are in the frozen world of the Phenendra Drifts. While I can’t say that particular level in the game was a favorite, this song is probably my most favorite from the game’s whole soundtrack. And sure enough, listening to it, I heard those familiar fuzzy bells as clear as day. I was so glad to finally be able to put notes to imagery, as it were.
Now, I wouldn’t say that now it’s unfortunate that hearing “Pieces of the Past” in Fallout 3 makes my mind slip over to Metroid Prime, but it does strike me that the two very different songs from two very different games could be made interchangeable. Not outright, that is – some changes would need to be made. “Phenendra Drifts” is too ethereal for Fallout 3’s obliterated, craggy landscapes. “Pieces of the Past” is too eerie for Metroid Prime’s world of icy terrain and curvy snowdrifts. But considering the two songs together, sharing but a single, similar sound, is an exercise in we are more alike than we are different. Hmm, how very human.
Lede image take by author during Xbox One gameplay of Fallout 3: Game of the Year edition (© Bethesda Game Studios).