Vast, Often Quiet World
If there is one thing all open-world games have in common it’s that they always have a killer soundtrack. Skyrim‘s sweeping score heightens the sense of adventure, reinforcing your purpose as the Dragonborn. In a game like GTA V, the music often defines the area you’re in. If you hear booming electronica or a slow-jam, it’s always easy to know where you’re at based on what music you’re hearing. I think we can all agree that music is crucial to a complete, immersive gaming experience, so we’re not going to debate that here. Instead, I want to talk about my favorite invention in open-world games: the MP3 player.
If there is one other commonality in games with vast worlds to explore, it’s that often times there is a lot of aimless wandering. Most times, during said wandering, the developers decide you need to hear all the nature sounds they recorded. While the ambient noise is detailed and nice to listen to, after a hour or so in one area, it becomes a bore. The lack of music in some games can help set up atmosphere, but sometimes it’s nice to be able to have something to listen to while you’re exploring.
There are three games in particular that have, thankfully, given us a way to listen to music whenever we want. Before you mention it; Yes, you can play music through your console during gameplay, but it’s not the same. When incorporated into the game you can still hear the other sounds of the game. If accessed through the console, the music is often louder than the game and drowns out the sounds. At any rate, here are the top three MP3 players or portable radios in games.
#3 The Fallout Series’ Pip-Boy
The sound team at Bethesda are masters of the open-world soundtrack. Fallout is no exception. Its ambient noise and orchestral soundtrack perfectly capture the bleakness of the Wasteland. However, there is also another part of the OST that is equally immersive – the Wasteland radio stations.
One of the old technologies that survived the nuclear apocalypse was radio. On the stations of the Wasteland, tunes of a forgotten era play, livening the mood and making the Wasteland a little brighter. If it wasn’t for the Survivor’s Pip-Boy, you’d only be able to hear these songs when near a radio. With the Pip-Boy, you can fire up the radio wherever you are and listen to “Butcher Pete” while you’re ransacking a raider’s den. The Pip-Boy’s ability to pick up radio signals can help stop you from going mad in the barren, green/gray world of Fallout.
#2 Final Fantasy XV’s Portable MP3 Player
If any game needed and MP3 player more it’s Final Fantasy XV. Square Enix created a beautiful world. One that combined fantasy with the modern in a detailed and believable way. It’s no surprise how impressive the world of Eos is. Square Enix isn’t exaclty known for skimping out in the graphics department. They typically don’t mess around when it comes the music of FF, and XV is no exception.
Final Fantasy XV‘s soundtrack is unique to the mainline series in that it not only has its own, original music, but it also contains practically every song from every other Final Fantasy game. Early on you’re are restricted to hearing some of the greatest songs in gaming history to only when you are in the Regalia. At a certain point in the game you will eventually be given the opportunity to buy an MP3 player. Do it.
As mentioned above, Eos is beautiful. It’s also huge and empty. Unless you’re riding on a Chocobo, little to no music plays in the background. With the MP3 player, that slow climb up The Rock of Ravatogh isn’t so tedious. I also used it every time I entered Lestallum, the music for that town just started grating on me after the thousandth time. As a bonus, the MP3 player cuts off when you enter a battle, and turns back on when you finish the fight. The MP3 player in Final Fantasy XV even lets you set up a shuffle mode and skip or repeat tracks.
#1 Watch Dogs 2 Marcus’ Phone
I have yet to play Watch Dogs 2 through to its entirety, but I played it enough to be impressed by how robust Marcus Holloway’s smart phone is. You can download an array of apps that make his phone seem just like the one we all carry around today. There are clever plays on popular social media apps, a front and rear camera, and more that help immerse you in the version of San Francisco built by Ubisoft.
Early on you are directed toward purchasing a couple of music apps for your phone. “Song Sneak” and the “Musik Media App” are both intregal to turning your phone into a portable music player. Much like Shazam, “Song Sneak” will listen to a part of a song and ID it for you, download it as well if you so choose. The “Musik Media App” is what Marcus uses to listen to the radio or any discovered music in the game.
There is another layer to Marcus’ phone when it comes to listening to music on the go, and that’s how he goes about listening to it. Marcus visibly inserts earbuds into his ears, when he goes up to talk to someone he’ll pull them out. If you listen closely when the buds are hanging around his neck, you can still lightly hear the tunes emitting from them. It’s a nice touch that mirrors how many of us listen to music and use our phones.
Now a Requirement
Ever since I played GTA III, I’ve wanted a way to listen to the songs whenever I chose. Sure, I could go to a menu and cycle through the different radio stations, but that took me out of the game. I think it should be mandatory that all future open-world games, especially if they take place in modern times, should have a portable music player of sorts. Because as fun as it is going on a rampage in any GTA, it’d be so much better if I could do it while listening to Black Flag.
Do you geeks think MP3 players should be in more games? How do you like to listen to the music while in game? Know any better portable music players in games? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.