We know the soundtracks for Final Fantasy games tend to be rather extraordinary. The themes woven throughout and artistry are undisputed. This is especially true when it comes to Masayoshi Soken’s work on FFXIV. But there’s an even greater way to know just how well-crafted such compositions can be. That’s when they work both within and outside the game. In the case of the Endwalker: FFXIV Original Soundtrack, that is especially true of its music.
Throughout the FFXIV Endwalker expansion, the soundtrack perfectly suits the situations at hand. “Tower of Zot” is incredible at setting the pace and tone of the dungeon. Ultima Thule’s “Echoes in the Distance,” “Close in the Distance (Instrumental),” and “Close in the Distance” build up upon each other at crucial moments. Songs like “The Ewer Brimmeth” and “The Nautilus Knoweth” capture the feel of an island nation, as well as one that has a scholarly history. The same goes for Radz-at-Han’s “Vibrant Voices” and “Perfumed Eves,” which convey the concepts of a desert oasis.
Though also, two of my favorites are the more contemporary tracks “Home Beyond the Horizon,” “White Snow, Black Steel,” and “Black Steel, Cold Embers” from Garlemald. They’re more contemporary themes. Each one fits within the world of FFXIV and the other tones and themes Souken crafted. At the same time, there’s a greater sense of melancholy to them and a more modern attribute that, for those aware of the area, perfectly suits the region. It’s these tracks that are the first that make me realize how much this latest soundtrack goes beyond the game. Perhaps it is the way in which I feel they reference FFVI. For example, they call to mind “The Mines of Narshe” and “Walk to Narshe” when I hear them.
But they aren’t the only ones. Of course, music with lyrics in the FFXIV Endwalker soundtrack easily work outside the game. Tracks like “Endwalker – Footfalls,” “Flow Together,” “Close in the Distance,” and “eScape (Journeys)” all honestly sound like things you might hear on the radio or while listing to a service like Spotify. “Hic Svnt Leones” is as fitting for the Pandæmonium raid as it is for daily life.
But it is also striking, as I listen to the soundtrack on its own outside of any gaming-related activities, how well many of the instrumentals and other themes stand on their own. For example, I imported the BoxBoy! Stuffed Box that came with a physical copy of the three 3DS games, an amiibo, and soundtrack with tracks from those titles. I love them. Really. But it is very hard to listen to that soundtrack outside of the game, without context. That doesn’t happen here. Like what about the “Carrots of Happiness” song? It works fine outside Smileton. Maybe the only ones that maybe hit a bit differently outside of their respective areas are a few raid themes. For example, I didn’t care as much for “Where Dæmons Abide” when not at the Gates of Pandaemonium. But even it is still generally a musically interesting track.
That Endwalker: FFXIV Original Soundtrack works so well in so many situations is a testament to Soken’s talent. The music is captivating. The songs within suit every encounter, location, and situation throughout Endwalker‘s story. They tie together, to make the themes within more evocative and powerful. But what is really exceptional is how they work outside of the experience. I found them as enjoyable when reading a newspaper or as background music while playing other games in my living room as I did while exploring a place like Mare Lamentorum.
Final Fantasy XIV and its Endwalker expansion are available for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC. The Endwalker: FFXIV Original Soundtrack Blu-ray is available now.