Path of Exile: The Fall of Oriath New Music Design

The latest Path of Exile development update is all about the music in the upcoming The Fall of Oriath expansion. Grinding Gear Games' composer Kamil Orman-Janowski explains his approach to creating new music for the expansion and offers a preview of one of the new tracks on SoundCloud.

Here's an excerpt from the update:

Act Five

When it comes to scenery and atmosphere, Oriath provides a very different backdrop compared to the nightmares in Act Four. The monumental architecture as well as the militaristic and theocratic influence of the Templar's order required new tools when it came to the music. From my point of view as a composer, there are two words which describe Act Five very well; order and chaos.

Starting out with the order, i.e. the Templars, I went with the sound of a large symphony orchestra without Woodwind instruments. However, to set the right mood I added a very large all-male choir with many baritone and bass voices to establish the signature sound, and to make the Templar sound powerful and serious.

In some arrangements, I've selectively used female voices to evoke feelings of mourning in response to the deaths of victims in the uprising. The female voice also provides a mystical quality to areas in Oriath that are considered holy.

The Karui revolt brought a lot of bloodshed, destruction and chaos. To reflect this musically, the instruments are distorted, with synths and twisted sound effects augmenting the orchestral arrangements or at times even replacing them.

This was all laid upon a foundation of percussion. I used militaristic drum snares, large surdos and bassdrums, and accented them with various types of metallic sounds such as anvils.

Main Theme

When I came to New Zealand and started work on Act Five, I was asked to create a new menu theme. It became obvious to me how important it would be for the present and future musical score in Path of Exile. I'm a big fan of catchy melodies and I knew it needed something simple, yet memorable and identifiable with Path of Exile's world. The question was whether I create something new or base it on any of the existing tunes. To help with the decision I created a survey on the forum.

In the end, the Belly of the Beast track was used as the basis for the new title music. I was surprised by how many variations could be made based on just a few notes from it. One of the versions fit really well with the completely new look of the login screen, but still clearly referenced the original Belly of the Beast track.

Act Six - Ten

Six new acts means a lot of new content. One of the goals with creating so many new acts is to make things feel new and fresh, and music plays a large part in this. While Act Five will be released with completely new music, acts 6-10 will need more time for original pieces to be created.

The long term plan is to draw some kind of musical map, with a natural musical progression, through these acts. Many zones in the game would have musical elements from zones next to them, or have elements of the music that the player encountered in the earlier playthrough.

Encampments and bosses are often the starting point for themes and the "palette of sounds", which eventually becomes a reference point for the rest of the act's music, but this must be balanced against keeping the connection to the new main theme.

A good example of this can be found in Act Six, where I wrote a new theme for Lioneye's Watch (Let's call it "Still Alive"). "Still Alive" shares some notes with Act One's Lioneye's Watch track, but at the same time also feels very different, since it is a very different arrangement, and is connected to the main theme. The end of this track even has parts of the main theme in it. The final boss of Act Six also has some melody elements from "Still Alive" to tie the start and end of the act together. The rest of the music for Act Six is still in development, but these two tracks will take the lead and influence the rest of them.