Today, we’ve got a treat for you. This could be a simple Q&A interview with Tim Wynn, Composer of the XCOM 2: War of The Chosen soundtrack. But we also put together the entire score for your listening pleasure and uploaded it to YouTube. So, go ahead and click the embedded link, kick back and listen while we discuss what into crafting the game’s music.
When you’re doing the score for a game like XCOM, what are some of your inspirations for pulling it all together?
For XCOM, the inspiration mainly came from the story. I like to start by creating the themes, and then look for ways to incorporate them into the game. For War of the Chosen, the story has numerous defined themes. I started with the Chosen theme and then wrote individual themes for the Warlock, Hunter and Assassin.
How is it working on the score for something like XCOM compared to other projects you’ve worked upon?
Each project is unique and every project needs their own sound and voice. With games, I really like to find the emotion in the story. In XCOM 2 that mainly comes from Shen and her following in her father's footsteps.
Let’s explore that for a second. What were you thinking about Shen and how did you want to bring that out? Any other moments that also inspired you?
I was focused on Lily’s feeling about carrying on her father’s life work. There is a certain amount of melancholy in that. I was also thinking about the bond between a father and his daughter. Being a father myself, I understand how powerful that can be. Some of the other things that inspired me were the new characters. Each of the Chosen have their own unique personalities and I tried to bring that out in the music. The lost were also fun to cover. Who doesn’t like zombies?
What piece are you most proud of composing from this score – and why?
It’s always hard to pick one piece of music but if I have to choose it would be the track called “War of the Chosen”. I like that it has both the Chosen and XCOM themes in it. A close second would be “Metal and Steel”. Fans of XCOM know how important the squad loadout screen is and I really like how the XCOM theme blends with some of the motifs from the Chosen.
How do you go about composing music – can you tell us about some of your process?
When I start writing for a game, I like to immerse myself in the story. I like to see all of the concept art and read as much of the story as possible. Once I have watched, read and sometimes play through the game, I will start to write. My best ideas usually come away from the keyboard. Inspiration can come all times of the day and in all settings. I like to sing the melodies and ideas into my phone and translate from there.
Can you go further into the creation process? You hum a melody into your phone…and what happens next?
I wish it was that easy! From there I take my recordings to the piano and start to sketch out a composition. Then usually comes more singing into my phone, and time and the piano. All of that gets poured into my computer where it comes to life.
We are looking to include the soundtrack / score with this story, so as we’re listening – what are some of the things people should be listening for?
The first thing to listen to may be the main theme “War of the Chosen”. I was looking to create a hybrid orchestral/analog synth sound for the game. It opens with what I call the Chosen motif in the analog synths. It was the first idea I had when writing but I felt that it wasn’t enough of a theme but I love how it works inside of the Chosen theme. Another thing of note is at 2:20 when the XCOM theme comes in dark, somber tone.
“Shen’s Hope” comes from the DLC Shen’s Last Gift. I like the otherworldly voice in Shen’s theme and how the emotion plays in the story.
As I mentioned before, I am really happy how “Metal and Steel” turned out for War of the Chosen. I was looking for a way to use the XCOM theme in 6/8 meter and I like the results. This piece of music is really meant to pump you up for the next mission, and I think it succeeds. Listen for the Chosen motif at :52 and when the XCOM B theme comes back at 1:09.
Track 7 “Vox Prima” is another cue to listen for. It’s the first time you hear the theme for the Skirmishers in the game. The theme works great for the Skirmishers and Mox is voiced by actor Michael Dorn – which makes it come together that much better.
Any things you’re hoping people take away from hearing the game’s score.
For me, I really wanted this score to be all about themes. I wanted the player to know when the one of the Chosen were stalking them. Also, XCOM 2: War of the Chosen is not your typical DLC. The story is so rich and well thought out it feels more like a whole new XCOM game. I tried to reflect the complexity of it in my score.
We’re going to continue chatting with the team about all aspects of the game and the work that went into creating XCOM 2: War of The Chosen. And we plan to answer your questions – and more – right here.
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