Game Music

Diablo III Beta Audio Impressions

September 29, 2011 | | 1 Comment Share thison Facebook Diablo III Beta Audio Impressionson Twitter

We’ve been covering the little snippets of music we’ve been hearing from Diablo III at past BlizzCon events since all the way back in 2008. We enjoyed what we were hearing, but it was somewhat of a tease to only hear one or two new pieces per demo build. Only now, however, are people really getting their hands on a meaty portion of the game with the recently-released beta, which explores Act I of the Diablo III.

There are a handful of new tracks featured, and I have to say that I like what I’ve been hearing. With Joseph Lawrence handling the majority of interiors with support from the rest of the audio team at Blizzard Entertainment, the Diablo III soundtrack is shaping up to be exactly what fans have been waiting for.

Hit the jump for our full impressions.

Right from the beginning you’ll be greeted with a bombastic overture. No, not the promotional overture that was used to announce the game, although it’s similar in intensity. Gone are the female vocals that some series fans criticized, instead replaced with some tasteful choral work. It’s a nice blast of nostalgia that hits you right from the start.

From there, players will explore New Tristram, a slow, meandering piece that should immediately sound familiar with its use of a 12-string guitar, again heavy on fan service by stirring that sense of nostalgia in the listener. These are dark times, and the music reflects that while still containing that sense of comfort knowing that you’re out of harms way within the city. One of my favorite moments, however, comes when exploring the various cellars (infested with undead) throughout New Tristram where the 12-string echoes through the foreground while ominous and often dissonant pads offer a hefty backing.

Out on the road, listeners will be treated to a somewhat somber ambiance that matches perfectly with the dreary landscape and the image of villagers’ bodies strewn across the wilderness. Players will come across a dark cavern that isn’t necessary to explore, although treasure and a new piece of music await them if they do enter. This was another favorite piece of mine with its new age sound, electric guitar work in the far distance, and the occasional tribal percussion, staying true to original Diablo and Diablo II composer Matt Uelmen’s musical direction for the franchise. There are also these bubbling sound effects that will raise the hair on the back of your neck as you explore the dark cavern.

The primary dungeon sports an epic string section and the sound of wind along with more bombastic percussion. There’s also a searing synth patch that comes in from time to time that had me thinking of Derek Duke as the grating quality reminded me of his compositions for the Zerg in the StarCraft universe.

On top of the great music, the voice acting is spot-on (although Deckard Cain does sound slightly different), and all the sound effects and sound design elements are in their right place. We spoke with Russell Brower last year about the use of silence in the game (there is quite a bit), and it’s obvious that the audio team has paid a lot of attention to detail with the aural landscape of Diablo III. Now I just want to hear more, and get confirmation that a soundtrack disc will be included with a collector’s edition of the game (you know it’s coming!).

What do you think of the music we’ve described, and are you excited about the music of Diablo III?

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