One of the more interesting creative choices made for Breath of the Wild was the inclusion of an ambient, minimalist soundtrack. Primarily using light piano melodies and flourishes, many of the songs in the game’s score were quite subdued, though they did fit well with Breath‘s overall open-air feel. This musical direction was quite bold, as it was very different from the OST’s of past games in the series, but the reality has since set in that some fans were not all that taken with this overly ambient soundtrack.

There are definitely good songs to find in Breath of the Wild — the Hyrule Castle theme has seen its fair share of praise — but the feeling among some Zelda fans has been that the minimalist approach to music in the new game was contrary to what they would have wanted to hear. Some have called these tunes bland, unmemorable, or even lazily composed. With all the negativity thrown its way, should future Zelda games even try to revisit the aspects of this ambient score?

For fans that actually enjoyed Breath of the Wild‘s soundtrack, the return of ambient, mood-setting tunes would be more than welcome, especially if the Zelda series continues to focus on open-world design. The musical choices helped to highlight the sense of discovery inherent in the latest Zelda‘s gameplay, and achieved a relaxing tone to accompany the act of exploration. On the other hand, fans that criticize the game’s OST would rather see the series move away from such minimalist music. The songs in Breath of the Wild lacked the memorable themes and melodies of past titles; therefore it lacked one of the most important elements of a great Zelda game. If any future adventures are scored the same way, they too would risk missing a crucial part of the Zelda identity.

Where do you stand on ambient soundtracks? Do you want to see the Zelda series utilize them more? Or do you think the series should avoid them moving forward? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

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  • Rob N. Hood

    No.

  • Future installments should have soundtracks that fit the game, just like all the other titles.
    Weather that be minimalistic ambiance or a wall of bombastic sound, I don’t mind as long as it suits the game.

    And saying that “Breath of the Wild lacked memorable themes and melodies” is flat out wrong.

  • Jebradiah Drake

    Of course it had memorable melodies, the ones copied from the real Zelda games.

  • burchdude65

    I really liked some of the new tracks. A few examples (from a larger list) are Kakariko Village, Hateno Village, Tarrey Town, and Hyrule Castle.

  • Rob N. Hood

    Hyrule Castle was great, but it was a medley of older melodies.

    Good tracks are rare in this game, and most of them appear in villages.

  • Jebradiah Drake

    Best new tracks include a small handful such as:

    Various champion themes (depending on your taste)

    Some of the new Village themes (my favorite was Gerudo Town)

    Attack on Vah Ruta

    And I did like the Divine Beast themes that built up over time, but NONE of them had a memorable melody. The best was probably Vah Medoh though.

  • Rob N. Hood

    Hmm…

    Yeah, you’re right, there are a few good tracks, attack on Vah Ruta, Vah Medoh and Hateno are great, but that still doesn’t change the fact that the majority of the game is silent.

  • Jebradiah Drake

    Random question: why that screenshot? I would have done a screen shot of Kass with his little bird daughters singing.

  • Rod Lloyd

    I was just thinking of the fast piano music that plays when Link’s spotted by a Guardian. Big Kass would have worked too.

  • Squirrel on crack cocaine.

    The music fitted the game alright but there was no need for moments of complete silence or for it to be so dull.
    I actually played an orchestral version of Hyrule Field in the background when I played BoTW and it made the game 10x better.
    Honestly, try it.

  • Jebradiah Drake

    Ohhh ok

  • Jebradiah Drake

    Idea for daily debate: Did Hyrule need to have as many ruins as it did in BotW. Ruins near Hyrule Castle make sense to imply that those areas were hit the hardest by Ganon’s return, but did every small settlement in the game have to be in complete decay or destruction? Personally I think the Great Plateau would look a lot nicer if the artificial walls around it were still in top condition instead of torn apart.

  • Vados

    Considering how Aonuma wants to make more ”open-air” Zelda games, I think that’s for the better. BotW has amazing sound design and having music blasting at you from all sides kinda takes you out of the experience imo. It’s always kinda weird how the Hyrule Field themes of OoT and TP for example always have this weird build-up, even though nothing really happens.

  • Dragonmaster 150

    I would love a new Zelda game with ambient soundtracks, however I would prefer more background music. There should still be areas where there is complete musical silence, but there should be some quiet music playing in the background of the open areas.

  • Vados

    because tracks like Hateno village, Korok Forest, Tarrey Town, the champion themes and the divine beast themes are totally ripped out of other Zelda games, right?

  • Jebradiah Drake

    Did you read the whole conversation?

    Edit: but no, some of those are very nice melodies but none of them are memorable. If I stopped playing BotW Cold Turkey I would forgot those melodies a lot faster than the Song of Time or Nayru’s Wisdom. Even if they are nice to have in the background.

  • Jebradiah Drake

    Are you telling me when you go back and listen to the Hyrule Field theme you don’t ever get flashbacks of your first time stepping out into the field, exploring around, riding Epona, all those fun little moments immortalized through a memorable track.

  • RYAN22

    Ohhh ok

  • I really love all the tracks in Breath of the Wild, but I feel that because they were so rare and short it felt like there was no soundtrack at all. If a new Zelda title wants to include an ambient soundtrack, I’d hope they just increase the frequency of hearing the tracks.

  • Darkstar

    Thus, further supporting the idea that this game takes place in the “downfall” timeline, where Hyrule is in complete ruins like the first game 😉

  • Darkstar

    This song should have played in central Hyrule (field)

  • Jebradiah Drake

    But did it have to be in complete ruins lol

  • Jebradiah Drake

    Or maybe a slowed down version of it like the slowed down version of the Song of Time that plays in the Temple of Time ruins. Something light that plays when you’re just walking around and nothing is happening.

  • Master Sword

    BotW had gorgeous sound design and a fantastic soundtrack overall, but I have to say I do miss the traditional tightly-composed music that made the older Zelda games so great.

  • Vados

    Well you don’t really seem to like BotW, so it doesn’t surprise me that you think the soundtrack of that game isn’t memorable. The tracks I’ve mentioned have a very clear melody however which makes them rather memorable imo.

  • Vados

    I’ve played OoT way too much to have any sort of nostalgia for the game. And what I remember most from Hyrule Field is this little part right here https://youtu.be/zO8Y7hdD6Qk?t=2m37s where the music suddenly shifts in tone even though nothing happens.
    I tried playing BotW with several overworld themes running in the background and it absolutely destroys the immersion, when you actually play a game where you have to take in the environments and explore them thoroughly.

  • William Roark

    nnnno.
    I think not.
    I mean, kinda depends on how the game goes, so if it’s another large free roaming type of game (which i hope it’s not) i guess it would work again

  • Jebradiah Drake

    I literally go to Hateno all the time but I can’t remember it’s tune until I get back there. Unlike an iconic melody like oh say… Clock Town? Ordon Village? Castle Town (TP). All of which I can remember perfectly. And the sad part is that I’ve probably spent more time on BotW these past few months than any other Zelda game, so I should totally be able to remember any songs that have a good rhythm to them. I guess BotW music is just a little too generic.

  • Jebradiah Drake

    Yea you’d have to switch it off every time an enemy shows up or whenever the night starts. Of course you’re going to be distracted trying to replicate that lol

  • Thomas Foolery

    Absolutely not.

  • Xaragon

    If they do, they need more variations, like a lot more.
    I think Hyrule Field itself should have at least invoked OoT or TP and then the music should change dynamically between provinces. Twilight Princess and Wind Waker also had layers where if you were standing still or walking or riding a horse, or had your sword drawn they would all use different layers of the song.
    Like maybe if you’re fishing around Lake Hylia, the game should draw from a pool of quiet more ambient tracks but then when you mount your horse and draw your sword, the next track will be more upbeat with brass instruments and it will vary based on your location.
    I just thought BOTW was lacking in having much music for most of the experience. I never really got tired of Twilight Princess’s field theme. The few tracks BOTW had were great, but it sounded boring 90% of the time.

  • Rob N. Hood

    The game contains multiple references to the Child Timeline, including Zelda’s speech, Midna’s helmet, Majora’s Mask and the Arbiter’s Grounds ruins in Gerudo desert.

    I would love to have a 3D game take place in the Downfall Timeline, but this doesn’t look like it.

  • Vados

    That’s strange. I mean other Zelda games surely have memorable soundtracks, but I don’t think that the OST of BotW is an exception. I often find myself humming a lot of themes from that game. Not all of the soundtrack is memorable, but I think that’s the case for every Zelda game. Skyward Sword is my favorite in terms of the music, yet I can’t remember tracks like Eldin Volcano and the songs that unlock the silent realms.

  • David Mitchell

    The music in BOTW is beautiful and it adds to the scene and mood of the game e.g. the overworld theme evokes a feeling of new possibilities and exploration and the themes for various towns/villages reflect the nature of the inhabitants. The music should change/adapt depending on the type of Zelda game but otherwise having an ambient theme is a winner

  • William Roark

    nnnno.
    I think not.
    I mean, kinda depends on how the game goes, so if it’s another large free roaming type of game (which i hope it’s not) i guess it would work again

  • Christian Beach

    I think if future Zelda games are going to have more ambient soundtracks, they should be well balanced with more orchestral scores.

  • asmith

    I rather enjoyed the ambient sounds while exploring. All of the towns, villages, and stables had music while visiting which I found memorable. There was also a day/night version of practically every town.

    It was enjoyable to be exploring (on foot, of course) listening to the different animals, but when you came upon a town or stable the music would fade in. It gave a feeling of coming in from the wilderness and back into civilization.

    *edit*

    So yes, I wouldn’t mind a continuation of ambient music while exploring in future Zelda games.

  • Edge Lord_123_Edge Lord

    no. oh heck no. that darn ost was lazy, and sounded awful

  • Joseph Busch

    Over all I enjoyed the music in botw but I think if they take that path again with the music they need a few more epic sounding scores like the one from hyrule castle because I enjoy those.

  • Kabbij

    Yes and no (lol). I really enjoyed the relaxing, fairly docile riding-around-Hyrule music from BotW when I was just traveling and taking in the scenery. I liked how the music was ambient, and didn’t intrude.

    However, thinking about it properly I missed themes like OoT’s Zora’s Domain, Gerudo Valley, Kokiri Forest etc. I know the stables, the castle, and the few villages did more music, but the locations were a bit few and far between. For example, I can’t even think if the music changed when you enter Gerudo Desert in BotW (not the town).

    I think having more settlements/locations with bigger scores along with the chilled mooch-about music of the field would be a good balance. Especially if it changes with enemies, and quieter at night like TP. I liked TP’s night tune. Also, I think more main dungeons like older games that have big orchestral theme tunes would help too.

  • Vados

    I think with BotW they generally threw the concept of the timeline out of the window and instead made use of the ”Legend” part of this franchise’s name. There are just way too many contradictions for either branch in BotW.

  • Jebradiah Drake

    Skyward Sword is where the trend began, focusing more on a consistently nice tune rather than a memorable melody.

  • Rob N. Hood

    Yeah, pretty much.

    “Because we wanted to redefine the whole process, I didn’t want to be chained up by the idea that we had to think about the past titles. But then again, I know there are a lot of fans who are interested, and who are knowledgeable in the Zelda franchise and the history. So by adding little elements here and there, we wanted to give the fans the opportunity to say, ‘Oh, I saw this. Maybe this is how it expands the story,’ or give little hints here and there.” – Eiji Aonuma

    That’s the dumbest thing they could have done regarding said fans.

  • Jebradiah Drake

    TP night theme was great, I think all games should have cool night themes like that.

  • Midnight

    NO are you crazy? some of the music in breath of the wild sounds like it was composed by a damn amatuer!

  • Coolio

    Not really? I liked a lot of the soundtrack, but at the same time, I want to hear an overworld theme again, not just the occasional overworld jingle of piano keys.

  • Isaix

    Definitly not,while there were some good tracks in Breath of the Wild like Hyrule Castle or Sidon’s Theme,I’m not a big fan of the ambiant soundtrack,the minimalists tracks bored me

  • Sentinel

    Let me put it this way. Xenoblade pretty much as set the standard for when it comes to music in open-world games in my opinion.

    I want something like that, something grand that appropriately fits the mood and gives me some kind of emotion. The “dead music” as I like to call it of BotW’s overworld is not to my liking in the slightest, and even its town themes felt more subdued.

    I have yet to find a town theme as lovely as Outset Island…or Windfall Island…or Dragon Roost Island. Dang, Wind Waker has a lot of good themes.

  • Sentinel

    Evoke a feeling of new possibilities? It doesn’t evoke anything! The overworld theme doesn’t have a twinge of emotion to it.