While this game’s music has a slightly darker tinge than
Fable fans may be used to, it’s immediately apparent that regular composer Russell Shaw has returned. But, as audio director Steve Brown explains,
Legends originally deviated from convention in far more radical fashion. “We tried taking it away from the [familiar] franchise sound to breathe new life into it. At a very early stage, we added it to the game, and while the visuals of Albion were very similar, when we changed the musical textures, introduced guitars and bass drums and crazy stuff for a more contemporary [sound], it just didn’t work. It didn’t give you the fun and the frivolity and the elements of pathos that Fable music traditionally has.”
As the action demands, the themes are generally of a higher tempo, though there are natural lulls when the fighting dies down. The challenge of scoring a multiplayer game is evidently different from a traditional
Fable adventure, too: whereas before the music would accentuate the protagonist’s story arc, with so many heroes involved this time, it will now adjust to tell the story of the region you’re exploring and support the narrative thread of the current quest.
Legends also introduces a dynamic element in the form of the Pendulum system. “We’ve always loved it in games where you suddenly get into combat and the music’s rallying, but you don’t know how you got there because it’s just blended organically. But our game is a game of two sides, villain and hero, so you’ve got to tell two stories [with the music].”
As such, as the tide of battle ebbs and flows, you’ll hear noticeable shifts in the theme: there’s ‘good’ music and an ‘evil’ variant, which doubles as feedback for the players, so you always have a strong sense of which side has the upper hand.
Sound effects are similarly crucial to determining the current state of play. Brown sounds faintly embarrassed when he uses the term ‘sonic signifier’, but explains that each character has a distinctive soundset that allows players to better locate one another when they’re out of sight, a feature that will be particularly evident for those with surround sound setups. There’s also a harmonic stab whenever players are downed. “When you hear this big crash and Inga’s sword and shield smack on the floor, you’ll instantly know that she’s near and she’s in trouble.”
Brown is involved in the voice casting process, too, but while he’s prepared to admit that in some cases the team has auditioned almost 100 people for a single hero, he’s coy about whether any big-name stars are involved. “We’ve kind of screwed ourselves by setting it in the past,” he cheerfully adds. “Now we can’t have any of our existing characters back!”
Each hero has a different motivation for helping out. The appropriately named Tipple, for instance, is a tank character who needs money to pay off his hefty bar tab
Steve Brown is the game’s audio director