Starfield’s Music Reflects Its Gameplay Loop


Starfield’s composer has explained how Starfield’s music reflects what you do in the game, with a flowing signature theme that's inspired by heading out into the stars and then returning home.

Talking as part of the latest Into The Starfield developer diary, composer Inon Zur said “ The way I looked at Starfield is what I call ‘The Sanctified Triplet’. Which is, everything is streaming, right? Everything is changing and everything is returning back.”

Zur used the signature theme of Stafield, heard in the trailer and the dev diary, as an example. “So basically it presents itself, it develops, it goes back. Some sort of circular journey. There's always this drive to go back home. And that’s what feels so complete for us, right? We want to complete the mission. We want to complete our journey. We will find something, we will discover something, we’ll take it with us, and we will go back home with it.”

Within that composition, Zur wanted to create soundscapes that reflected the nature of space. “For example, [we] took the woodwinds and we created a whole woodwind layer that almost represents particles in space, because they don’t play melodies at all,” he explained. “They play sort of like a high frequency sequence. So they almost don’t sound like woodwind, they sound something between organic and synthetic.”

As with the Elder Scrolls and Fallout games, the signature theme of Starfield bleeds into the rest of the game. “I relax a lot once we feel good about the main theme because the rest is going to, it’ll be work in iteration, but it’s going to write itself,” said Mark Lampert, Starfield’s Audio Director.

“I’m kind of salivating thinking about ‘What can I do with that on a sound design side?’” he said. “Not just to weave the main theme into different key points within the game, leveling up, discovering new places, but could we use that as straight up sound design? To take those woodwind tremolos and just slow them way down, let’s reverse them. I’ll take any of that music and turn it into ambience somewhere.”

Lampert noted that the score often perfectly fits a gameplay moment, despite it not always being scripted to a player’s movements. “The music has a funny way of playing the right chord change at the right time, and a lot of that just happens at random,” he said. “You look over the valley at just the right moment and that just happens to be when this one chord change happens, and there are times like that, that feel scripted and they’re not. And I like that each player has that experience for themselves, personally.”

For more, check out Starfield’s first revealed companion, the dialogue mechanic it’s borrowed from Oblivion, and learn about how you can join multiple factions including the bad guys.

Matt Purslow is IGN's UK News and Features Editor.