A field to me is denoted as a place where you can find enemies but also explore! This year has some of my personal favorites which I’m excited to share. Also I get to shill a lot for the Xenoblade 2 soundtrack here (not that I haven’t already), can’t wait to add games I haven’t played yet like YS8 to this list. Same bold palette means the positions are pretty interchangeable for me.
16) Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia – Where the Wind Rustles
Such a great song to open the game up to, I really like trumpet lead-ins as I’m a trumpet player myself and it just leaves you wanting to explore just like Alm does. The modern touch-ups to Gaiden’s OSTs are really beautiful, and this song is no exception.
15) Persona 5 – The Whims of Fate
My personal favorite palace theme, and my 2nd favorite palace to play-through because of it and one other factor. Definitely the most groovy palace song, as befitting as the area it’s in. The lyrics are really apt too, and for such a long palace I didn’t get sick of the song either like some other palaces did for me.
14) The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky the 3rd – Stairway to Gehenna
This is probably the complete opposite of the song above in terms of groove, as this song is honestly just depressing to listen to. The bells and strings are used perfectly to drain this area of any life and as you’re walking around you truly feel like you are in a place people shouldn’t ever be able to go to. The violin solo at 1:15 is particularly noteworthy.
13) Xenoblade Chronicles – Leftherian Archipelago (Day)
This song is honestly beautiful and so is the area it comes with. I haven’t spent too much time in this area yet as it’s pretty easy to walk through, but I can’t wait to spend more time in it. The flute melody at 0:29 is definitely very nice to listen to, and it just has that magical Xenoblade aura to it.
12) Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia – A Song for Bygone Days
This is the wind-down song for the game and it lets you know it’s coming to a close by bringing in vocals and a more intense piano line than any of the previous Act themes. The transition into the major vocal focus with string backings at 0:48 is really well done, and I feel like this theme matches what both Alm and Celica have to go through at this stage of the game.
11) Xenoblade Chronicles 2 – Gormott (Day)
To a lot of people, this song embodies the Xenoblade spirit as it sounds a lot like it’s predecessor “Gaur Plains”. It is pretty much the perfect roaming theme, and I really love the violin melodies in this song and the drum beat. The strings at 1:03 with the harmonies in the background leading into the next phase of the song is probably my favorite part about it, but you can tell the composers probably spent an insane amount of time getting this song right. There are even vocals that kick in at 3:40, so for a game song having a loop this long is pretty crazy.
10) Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia – The Ark of Dawn
I really like this song, as I was most interested in Celica prior to playing FE15. But more importantly, this song features basically every instrument I love in the harp/strings/woodwinds combo. I don’t hate boat maps either, so this way a really fun section for me to play. I was really impressed by the reimagining of this song, and the composers for FE15 are both really impressive arrangers but composers as well.
9) Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia – Undiscovered Horizons
This song makes me tear up with how majestic it is and how there’s a leitmotif in this song of the Fire Emblem theme. This song basically is the embodiment of Gaiden’s Fire Emblem Theme, as it’s the game that doesn’t feature it. The part at 0:50 is honestly too good and gets me every time. Also trumpet leads.
8) Xenoblade 2 – Uraya (Day)
This song makes me tear up but in another way. I think this song has easily the best opening verse in any of the songs on this list, and the woodwinds that come in literally make this sound like it came out of a Studio Ghibli film. My opinion of this song changes frequently, but whenever I enter the area I always forget about that and remember it’s too good.
7) Xenoblade 2 – Mor Ardain (Day)
This is the real “Gaur Plains” of Xenoblade to me though, that intro into a strong melody just screams the same combination to me. This song switches up instrument focuses a lot which makes me really enjoy the song on a personal level. Can’t get any another more hype than brass instruments, after all! The piano/trumpet solos are actually too good though. When I got to this area, it was actually night, so I changed the time to day and just sat there.
6) Xenoblade 2 – Kingdom of Tantal (Night)
This song is actually so chill to listen to.. Tantal is probably my favorite area in the game if we combine both day and night themes. I’m a sucker for good acoustic guitar sounds as I play fingerstyle myself. Nothing like walking in a snow area with 1:36 going though. The piano at 2:06 leading into a perfect loop of this song is actually mindblowing.
5) Xenoblade 2 – Gormott Lower Level
This song is actually too pretty. The amount of woodwind usage in this soundtrack made me really happy, since I honestly think they are capable of being lead in so many more nice themes in game music, but they tend to be underused in general. I like this one a lot, despite it’s simplicity compared to the songs around it. Sometimes simple compositions feel the most magical and 1:38 is such a magical transition back to the main section to the song.
4) Nier: Automata – Amusement Park (Dynamic, Vocals)
The top 4 of this list is definitely interchangeable for me, music this year has been way too good. Automata’s first song on this list though is the Amusement Park, and this song just builds a sense of wonder and fun. The bass drum kicks at 0:25 really emphasize a strong beat with the harmonics and vocals and it’s something I appreciate so much. The strings and the mallet instrument at 1:48 are really good too.
3) Xenoblade 2 – Tantal (Day)
My favorite standard field theme in Xenoblade 2. Since I already mentioned Tantal is my favorite area for music, and the night theme was above.. it’s no surprise the day theme is higher. This is basically a more intense version of the night theme with strings and vocals for added tension. The Kingdom of Tantal is known to be a place that is very unkind to it’s denizens, and I think the harsh nature of this song conveys that. The bass drop at 1:30 into the main melody of the song is actually so nutty though.
2) Xenoblade 2 – Spirit Crucible Elpys
If there’s anything I was really happy about, it was seeing Manami Kiyota on the composer list for this game. I love Mitsuda, and all the members of ACE+.. but the calming themes that Kiyota made are some of my favorites in gaming in general and this song is no different. The place this song plays in made the entire area worth it, and that’s how much I love it. It’s like she mashed up all her best songs from the past games into this one, and the vocals hit me in all the right spots. It’s really great how none of the songs feel like they’re out of place in the world either, even though so many different composers worked on the game.
1) Nier: Automata – Rays of Light (Dynamic, Vocals)
It was really hard to decide what to put as #1, but this version of the City Ruins theme is actually too good. The piano melody is simple, but it provides the perfect backing for the vocals while also being a strong part of the song. The strings provide a good amount of tension, to depict the struggles the cast is struggling through as this version of the song appears in game. All the dynamics of the song are perfect to me, and it’s really emphasized at 1:28 when the main vocal theme of the song comes online. ty Keiichi Okabe.