Composer Will Bates probably isn’t a household name, but his music has most likely been in your house at one time or another. With 71 credits over the last 12 years, Bates has done music for multiple television programs and films, most notably for SyFy’s The Magicians and, most recently, for Peacock’s The Lost Symbol. As I listened to his score for Vaas: Insanity, the first major expansion for the Ubisoft game Far Cry 6, it started to become more and more apparent that the music had a homogenized feel. There is a “safeness” to the music that fails to challenge the listener, instead making them feel as if they’re watching (or in this case, playing) just another piece of modern media. The music is completely familiar and that may have been the intention of Ubisoft and Bates, as Far Cry 6 is clearly a major AAA, big budget piece of mainstream media, so they likely don’t want to alienate their target audience by inserting music that would cause them to be turned off.
Still, while the score does have a very familiar feel, it isn’t necessarily bad. Bates does a fantastic job of making you feel uneasy as you listen to the album, and he seems to crib liberally from some of the masters of these kinds of soundscapes, such as Tangerine Dream, Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, and Angelo Badalamenti. The difference here, though, is that the music in Vaas: Insanity comes across as too generic. To put it another way, the soundtrack reminded me of that “weird” kid in high school we all knew; they wore black, painted their fingernails, had a ponytail and would quote The Crow. They seemed dangerous and edgy, but then you start to realize that they get all their t-shirts from Hot Topic and their favorite band from Junior High was Smash Mouth. This is my biggest issue with the music of Vaas: Insanity, it’s Playskool’s “my first post-industrial soundtrack”.
Still, at the end of the day, who are soundtracks really for? The diehard fan, and I can’t say that I’m that big a fan of Far Cry 6 (with a 4.6 user score on Metacritic I’m clearly not the only one). There are, I’m sure, people out there that are absolutely in love with this game, and probably even more excited that Vaas is back. This soundtrack is for those fans, the people that have sunk 60+ hours into Far Cry 6 and its expansion, as they’re able to connect emotionally to the music in a much greater way than I can. Bates is a very talented musician and he clearly knows how to evoke a mood. As the soundtrack played on I certainly felt this sense of dread and uneasiness, and Vaas: Insanity wouldn’t be out of place at your next Halloween Party, in small doses, you can’t skip out on Monster Mash, of course.
Title: Far Cry 6 – Vaas: Insanity (Original Game Soundtrack)
Composer: Will Bates
Release: November 2021
Standout Tracks: Green Tea Deodorant, On a Sunny Beach, Birthright
Available digitally on Spotify, YouTube Music, Apple Music, iTunes, deezer, Amazon Music, qobuz, Napster, and Tidal.