If graphics are the Kim Kardashian of the gaming world, then sound design is her make-up artist. It does an arguably more important job, but gets absolutely no credit whatsoever for its part in the end result.
Rockstar cheats a little bit by using some of their swimming pools full of money in order to buy a bunch of awesome songs that pass for a soundtrack, but GTA V bucked the trend slightly by being the first in the series to also make use of original, self-produced music. It’s a great score, too, and helps build tension in missions or drizzle you in atmosphere whenever the time is right.
There’s a metric ton of bystander dialogue on top of that, which helps with all the “immersion” stuff you hear so much about. It might, theoretically, be possible to walk around all of Los Santos and not hear the same conversation twice, but more often than not you’ll just hear people screaming, and the sound of frantic footsteps and screeching car tires because you’ve gone and fired a rocket-propelled grenade at that hotdog vendor again, you psychopath. Also, the sound of the dog is realistic.
Far Cry 4‘s bystander chit-chat isn’t quite as varied or snappy. Mainly, you’ll be treated to phrases such as “Fuck. A tiger” (where the full stop makes an important distinction) and “There he is,” which may or may not be authentically Nepalese.
That said, the music is actually completely superb. It’s a strange yet somehow effortless mix of minimalist electro and the ethereal harmonies of far-Eastern instruments. If I stumbled across the soundtrack on the iTunes store, with no prior knowledge, I’d almost certainly buy it. I guess that sounds like high praise, but in order to balance the opinion I feel like I should disclose that I have a beard and live in east London. I also drink mead out of jam jars in cafes that allow dogs.