When you love gaming headsets as much as we do, you care a lot about what games are using them for. Thankfully, 2023 treated our ears right, slotting in a mixtape of audio awesomeness for us to enjoy. Put on your headset or insert those earbuds, because it’s time to celebrate the best sounding games of 2023. Just make sure you have a HyperX headset to enjoy the to their fullest!
After shredding demons in Metal: Hellsinger last year, we’d been itching for another rhythm-driven rumble that’d test us against a tempo. Fortunately we didn’t have to wait long. In January, Hi-Fi Rush burst unexpectedly onto stage with a flash of comic color and the strum of an electric guitar. A playground of sound, this 3D action-platformer asks you to time attacks and dodges to the level’s beat. Each success adds guitar strums, drum taps, and crowd cheers to the backing music.
The goal is to build up your combo enough to let protagonist Chai unleash special moves that shred both guitar and enemies. Boss battles play out to licensed songs from bands like Nine Inch Nails and The Black Keys, making it nigh on impossible to keep your head from bobbing and your feet tapping as you chip away at their health bars. Hi-Fi Rush was the ideal opening act to a year of gaming music.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
A common complaint about Breath of the Wild was the lack of memorable themes for areas or bosses. The ambient music was excellent, but players craved more. We’d happily tick that request off sequel Tears of the Kingdom’s checklist, if only we weren’t too busy basking in its boss and temple themes. Each is fantastic in its own right, but the way they weave in Breath of the Wild’s champion’s themes and elements from the series’ musical past elevates them even further.
The Colgera boss theme is a standout highlight. Dramatic flutes and the ebbing and flowing of strings perfectly reflect the airborne nature of the battle. As the player reaches the final stage, segments from Windwaker’s Dragon Roost Island theme – also featured in the Rito village – break in with added grandeur to up the stakes. Any time we spotted the boss lurking in the depths, it was hard to resist taking it on again just to enjoy the music.
Lies of P
The soundtrack to impressive debut soulslike Lies of P caught us entirely off guard. And it did so in unexpected places. Forget the myriad boss battles and linger instead on the game’s main menu. Gentle piano heralds a forlorn series of strings and wind instruments, each element soft enough to pair with the ambient rain and quiet ticking of a mechanical heart. It’s a brief track but, once noticed, difficult to skip past.
The game’s records, too, are a delightful addition. Found throughout the world, they can be played in the hub area of Hotel Krat. There is a small narrative incentive to the mechanic, but more often than not we found ourselves playing them just to close our eyes listen. Puppet or human, everyone should appreciate these songs.
Final Fantasy 16
Final Fantasy 16 saw Masayoshi Soken, composer of the beloved and ongoing MMORPG Final Fantasy 14, take the reigns for the series latest single-player soundtrack. He delivered in grand fashion, with a sweeping orchestral score which frequently lays emphasis on choral elements.
Eikon battles are a central pillar in the game’s systems and narrative. FF16’s score does a fantastic job of delivering bombast needed to match and complement their visual spectacle. Quieter sequences do get their time in the score as well. But primarily, it’s in combat that FF16’s music stands out, whether that’s instilling a sense scale and strife to a grand fight or lifting us up to face a fierce enemy one last time.
If we found ourselves stuck in a time loop, endlessly piloting a spaceship through a gauntlet of deadly dogfights, we’d need something like Cobalt Core’s soundtrack to keep us going. Mixing electronic beats with piano and bass guitar, the deck builder's score is so infused with optimism that it’s hard to keep a smile from your face even as your ship’s hull takes a pounding.
It’s a soundtrack perfectly pitched to the pastel pixel art and light-hearted writing of the game. Combat tracks pick up the tempo but deftly dodge any sense of tension or stress. Even when your tiny ship buts its nose against gigantic bosses, the music largely retains a sense of wonder and inspiration instead of dread. If your day is in desperate need of a boost, a short run through one of Cobalt Core’s sectors with speakers on full blast is certain to do the trick.
Make the most out of this year's brilliant gaming music by picking up a HyperX gaming headset.