Community Picks: The 25 Best Game Soundtracks

5. 'Portal'

We suspect that Portalcould've made it on this list off the back of "Still Alive" alone. Jonathan Coulton wrote the perfect song to close out a game where an AI called GLaDOS did its level best to kill a "test subject" as they made their way through Aperture Science's labs with nothing but a portal gun and trusty companion cube. The soundtrack as a whole is good, but GLaDOS' coda just pushes the game's music towards greatness.

4. 'Final Fantasy VII'

Speaking of games that feature one song that would justify making this list, next we come to Final Fantasy VII, the renowned JRPG that debuted on the original PlayStation. "One Winged Angel" has been covered by everything from heavy metal bands to full orchestras, and the rest of Nobuo Uematsu's work on the soundtrack is equally strong. The emotions captured by the game's music helped people fall into a world where a group of misfits with awe-inspiring abilities has to band together to save the planet from the son of a galactic parasite. (We're paraphrasing.)

3. 'BioShock Infinite'

BioShock Infinite brought its series from the depths of the ocean to a city above the clouds. It also saw a different approach to the soundtrack that focused more on simple tracks played by small string ensembles instead of grandiose pieces played by a full orchestra. The approach worked--BioShock Infinite won numerous awards for its soundtrack, from Best Song in a Game at VGX 2013 to Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition at the 17th Annual D.I.C.E. Awards. While the game has its fair share of critics, the soundtrack is less questionable in quality.

2. 'The Witcher 3'

Composing music for open-world games isn't easy. Different locations have to elicit different feelings, and players can jump in and out of combat at a moment's notice. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt's soundtrack, which was played by the Brandenburg State Orchestra, rises up to the occasion. Whether you're hunting down some monsters, exploring the countryside, or watching Geralt of Rivia stumble through social interactions, the game's soundtrack meets the standards of quality set by its story, graphics, scope, and gameplay. That's a high bar, and the soundtrack vaults it.

1. 'The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim'

Everything we said about The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is also true for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Both games see you traversing huge open worlds where you can do pretty much anything you want any time you want. Skyrim also had the benefit of a standout theme, "Dragonborn," that featured a 30-man choir singing in Draconic. Most gamers are used to the size of Skyrim's world by now, and Bethesda's insistence on bringing the game to every platform under the sun almost makes it feel like it can't be escaped, but that main theme is still powerful enough to get our blood pumping.

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.

  • darth_adversor
    Skyrim number one...again. How about Oblivion???
  • FaceBob
    I'd personally put Total Annihilation, Sacrifice and most of the Heroes of Might & Magic soundtracks above all of these. Just my opinion, mind.
  • alisamenna
    Quake II
  • icelava
    + World of Warcraft: say what you like about the changes in game design, but they've never failed to delivery mesmerising and splendid music throughout each version.

    And Nier Automata is truly out of this world.
    I'd also the soundtrack of iconic games like Legend of Zelda: a Link to the Past;
    Top Gear;
    Super Mario World;
  • Onus
    I really enjoy the original Guild Wars sound track. As for getting my blood going, the music in Unreal Tournament: G.O.T.Y. is good too.
  • hotaru251
    Xenoblade Chronicles X also had a much better OST than most of these :/

    example being Wir fliegen

    also TWEWY soundtrack would beat every last one on this list hand down.
  • knowom
    Perfect Selection: Dracula New Classic

    Symphony of the Night OST

    I don't know how you miss either of these in this type of discussion.
  • darth_adversor

  • bramahon
    Monkey Island, Divinity series and few Black-Isle games should have made the list. As for theme musics of TES I see things as this - Morrowind + high tempo = Oblivion + higher tempo + Dragon Shout = Skyrim!! Jeremy Soule masterclass ;)