2020 has been quite the year. I’ve been doing this “Music of E3” thing for six, maybe seven years now, and nothing has prepared me for a year like this one. With E3 going all virtual in 2020, it felt like there were more showcases and trailers than ever before! Not only that, but it was hard to figure out where to draw a line on “E3.” The Electronic Entertainment Expo seamlessly bled into Gamescom which then became PAX Online and Tokyo Game Show and in a couple of months, we have The Game Awards! It’s truly a nonstop year of gaming, and with it comes a lot of great music!
So here we are again, as the Jonas Brothers once said, going over the best music of… let’s say the first months of summer. This list covers the big virtual showcases of the major consoles, as well as some straggler trailers that were released shortly after. There were even more than 10 songs I loved throughout all these videos, but finding them was much harder than I’d imagined. Certain games like Of Bird and Cage and Figment: Creed Valley offered new songs written for their respective games (that I couldn’t find online), and others like Balan Wonderland and Deleveled included some awesome background music that wasn’t even credited as real music (also unfindable). So we were left with what you see before you: some of the best songs of this bizarro E3 2020. I hope they hook you in as they did to me.
“Watch Me Go” by WEDNXSDAY – The Future of Gaming Intro (PS5)
It’s no surprise that I love a good montage. I also really love PlayStation, so when this dubstep-fueled montage opened the PS5 reveal showcase, I was ready for everything coming my way. This kicked off the “Summer of Gaming,” and it cemented itself on this list due to electricity and adrenaline alone. It took control of my psyche and pumped me full of so much adrenaline, I’ve yet to come down from it all. Just gonna ride this high into 2021. But I digress. “Watch Me Go” perfectly sets the scene for all of the action-packed PlayStation exclusives, including games like The Last of Us, God of War, Ghost of Tsushima, and Uncharted 4. If watching this didn’t make you proud to be a gamer, then I don’t know what will. It’s loud, abrasive, and synced up with some of the best action scenes in recent gaming history. I loved every second of it.
“Make Way For The King” by Ohana Bam – Godfall Gameplay Reveal Trailer
I might get some flack for this one, but I really enjoyed the Godfall gameplay trailer. It seems this summer has been inundated with Godfall news and previews, but then again, of course, it has. Godfall is one of the few launch titles on PS5, and they want that thing to sell! That being said, there seems to be a lot of mixed feelings regarding the game. I’ve seen many people turned off by the “looter-slasher” aspect of it, instead of wishing for a Soulslike experience, and alongside those hopes came a disappointment in this gameplay trailer. Personally, I didn’t have a problem with the music they chose. I love the fast rapping coupled with bombastic horns to supplement the frantic combat onscreen. I really don’t like Soulslike games, so anything to help differentiate Godfall from that genre helps, especially when it’s a tune I can get behind. Ohana Bam can DJ my Godfall sessions anytime.
“Untitled” by The Living Tombstone – In Sound Mind Announcement Trailer
Now here’s a game I should not be excited for. In Sound Mind is everything I hate about survival horror, complete with trippy mind-bending effects and horrifying monsters. However, my sister and I played the demo and really enjoyed it (I guess it’s easier with friends?), so now we can’t wait for the final release. On top of this, the song that accompanied the trailer was an absolute banger. It began with an eerie piano hook that provided some terrifying ambiance to the voice-over narration. Then once the lyrics kicked in – albeit only two lines – there was just something about the guy’s voice and his connotation that gave me chills. I can’t wait to hear more music from this game, as it’s been confirmed The Living Tombstone is providing an entirely original soundtrack. Once the full song is released, I know I’ll be addicted. As for In Sound Mind, I just might lose myself in that world as well upon release.
“You Keep Coming Alive” by Sean Rowe – Twin Mirror Official Trailer
Now’s the part where I pour my heart out over Dontnod’s brilliance! So not only did this developer bring us the amazing Tell Me Why earlier this year, but they’re bringing another narrative experience to brighten up 2020 in the form of Twin Mirror. Having loved Life is Strange for its focus on music choice and the way they can tell a story with the assistance of the proper song, it’s no surprise that as soon as the new Twin Mirror trailer began, my ears perked up at the inclusion of an unorthodox tune. What immediately sounded like Hozier drew me into the plot unfolding onscreen, and when I later learned it was actually Sean Rowe, I wasn’t even disappointed. They made a great choice to set up this backwoods mystery, and I’m even more intrigued now thanks to a draggy country song that transported me to Basswood, West Virginia in the blink of an eye.
“As Satellites Go By” by Lamb – The Last Campfire Official Trailer
I’m actually working on The Last Campfire right now to include it in next month’s recAPP – shameless plug – but what initially drew me into it was the brilliant trailers and their respective song choices. The latest trailer from No Man’s Sky creator Hello Games offers an emotionally devastating look at the game’s environment and its characters. As our protagonist ventures out on a journey alone, he confronts more death and sadness than one person can handle. What better way, then, to accompany such a tragic tale than with a song like “As Satellites Go By?” This tune offers a slow, folksy feel to an already bleak world, and it helps make a puzzle game look as enticing as any other narrative-focused title. The Last Campfire is certainly one to watch – as I have for many months now – and I must commend Hello Games for always supplying players with experiences that make us think.
“Kai Tangata” by Alien Weaponry – Werewolf: The Apocalypse Earthblood Official Trailer
Once, we underwent a renaissance of retro games, complete with chiptunes and pixelated graphics in the 21st century. Now, it seems, we’re undergoing a sort of homage to the Xbox 360 era in terms of graphics, and whether that’s intentional or not… I’m not complaining. One such title that looks like it stepped out of E3 2009 is Werewolf: The Apocalypse Earthblood, a video game based on the 90’s tabletop RPG series. I came out of “E3 2020” with this game high atop my list, as its focus on destructive combat and its blaring soundtrack got my attention almost instantaneously. I’ve loved every second of gameplay I’ve seen from Earthblood, and with the onscreen carnage set to the tasty tunes of Alien Weaponry, I couldn’t ask for anything more. It’s graphic and exciting and I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on this game. Here’s hoping the majority of the game is full of raucous metal.
“Wildfire” by Chrissy Costanza – VENN Official Launch Trailer
This one’s thanks to Allan Muir, our resident VENN fanatic. I remember when this whole E3 began, and he was so excited about this “G4 2.0,” a 24/7 gaming network providing news, gameplay, and exclusive content across multiple platforms. It was pretty cool once it finally launched, and it continues to do well (there’s even a new show premiering next week!) But before it all started, one trailer got me more amped for VENN than even the excitement of Allan could. VENN’s launch trailer was set to an original song by Chrissy Costanza, one of the channel’s resident hosts, and it’s one of the best songs I’ve heard all year. I can’t quite explain why I love it so much – perhaps it’s just the electro-pop beat that carries throughout the trailer – but the fact that “Wildfire” isn’t on Spotify yet really gets me down every day. If this rager was more prominent on the channel, I would be watching a lot more VENN than I have been.
“Brain in a Jar” by Jack Black – Psychonauts 2 Official Gameplay Trailer
You thought I’d talk about the music of E3 2020 and not mention the most music-centric trailer of them all? Especially one that features the one and only Jack Black? You’ve got to be kidding. Psychonauts 2 is the highly anticipated sequel to the Double Fine platformer that helped pioneer emotional narratives. At least, that’s what I’m told. To be honest, I’ve never even touched Psychonauts myself. That being said, I have no clue what the “Brain in a Jar” trailer was about, and it kind of freaked me out a bit. But the music? Well, I have to admit, nothing compares to Jack Black doing a bluesy lament about the world of Psychonauts. It actually got me interested in the game, which I was certainly not expecting going into this E3. With Jack Black on board, I’m sure it’ll be a fantastic ride, and hopefully, the gameplay will be better than the mess that was Brutal Legend.
“Sinners” by Barns Courtney – As Dusk Falls Official Trailer
As Dusk Falls is undoubtedly one of my most anticipated games of E3 2020. I came away from that lackluster Xbox showcase thinking only of this title, and how captivating the trailer was. From its art style to its focus on people of various races and lifestyles, I cannot wait to dive into this world and uncover the secrets it has to tell. Accompanying this gritty tale was the sweet sound of Barns Courtney, a name I happen to recall for some unknown reason. His deep vocals and country twang offer a familiar sound to the landscape onscreen, one of the dusty desert roads and redemption – preferably of the deceased, vermilion kind. What I’m saying is this trailer’s music really engrosses me in the character’s struggle, without me having any connection to them whatsoever. I already feel for these people, and that makes the thought of finally getting my hands on this game that much more exhilarating.
“Connected (Yours Forever) by Hydelic – Tetris Effect: Connected Announce Trailer
Let’s face it, this trailer was cringe as hell. All these old people playing Tetris on Facetime, holding controllers awkwardly with their game faces on. Guys, it’s just Tetris. I’ll admit, though, it is kind of cute to see them all smile as they play one of the world’s most brutally calming games. Everybody loves Tetris, and everybody knows how to play Tetris, so that makes the idea of Tetris Effect: Connected even more exciting. The ability to play the game with your friends provides a unique experience that’s sure to satisfy any Tetris fan… and their buddies. But we’re here to talk music, and Connected‘s reveal trailer delivered with a tune that starts soft and builds into quite a bangin’ EDM drop. It was instantly one of those songs you hear and go “I want to listen to that again and again!” Here’s hoping Tetris Effect: Connected offers that same feeling.
“X Gon Give It To Ya” by Elephant Music – CrossfireX Official Campaign Trailer
Nah, I’m just kidding. Do you think I’m gonna condone this? Gentrifying DMX and turning one of the most outrageously catchy and iconic rap songs into… well, I think our very own Javon said it best: “how dare they white up X Gon Give It To Ya.”
I rest my case.
Thanks for tuning in to yet another year of E3’s greatest songs! I know it’s been a wild ride, 2020, but hey, it’s almost over, and to make things better you now have some new songs to listen to! Isn’t that fun? Hopefully, I’ll see you right back here next year, with a new batch of sick beats, straight from the halls of the Los Angeles Convention Center – and not from my television speakers. Here’s to a great 2021! Stay safe. See ya.