Aliens: Fireteam Elite (Austin Wintory)

Developed by Cold Iron Studios, and released in 2021, the video game "Aliens: Fireteam Elite" is a sequel to the original "Alien" film trilogy. An action-heavy third-person shooter, the game follows a group of Colonial Marines responding (as they always do in this series) to a distress on a distant planet, only to have to themselves survive a xenomorph infestation. The game released to decent critical praise, better than the previous "Colonial Marines" game. Joining the adventure was composer Austin Wintory, here bringing a muscular orchestral action sound that pays homage to previous franchise composers such as Goldsmith, Horner and Goldenthal, while maintaining his own style that favors densely layered rhythms and unique instrumental combinations to keep players on the edge of their seat.

As I've stated previously, I'm not a gamer, so can't speak very intimately about the game, nor how the music functions. But I am a fan of Austin Wintory, even though I often find his scores more fascinating on an intellectual level, and sometimes a little difficult to connect with on an emotional level. Hollywood Records finally released a soundtrack album over a year after the game's initial release. I was not a big fan of the cover (which uses the desaturated "Ultimate Edition" art), but the Alien universe is one that I absolutely adore, so I leapt at the chance to play some with some xenomorph artwork. 

Cover 1 takes the artwork from the "Into the Hive" edition, which was in solid blue, but I drew inspiration from a multi-colored variant I found. So I ended up painting my own version of it, overlapping various layers of color--green, yellow, orange, over the underlying blue, and then manually blending and sculpting the transitions between all the colors to my liking. This took quite a while, and even though technically was fairly simple, it was a fun exploration and something that I don't usually get to do with my cover art.

The second cover uses the PC game artwork, and didn't require much editing, other than tweaking colors just a tad, and then applying text (which once I found a decent font, I mostly used across the project).

Finally, Cover 3 uses the official game cover. I just find this image so haunting. The only main change that I did to the piece was to actually take the alien queen's crest from the "ultimate edition" cover and color that red and add it into this piece. This allowed for a wider composition, and differentiated it a bit from the layout of Cover 1. 

Hope you enjoy. What were your thoughts on the game, and how do you think Wintory's music fits into the franchise overall?


  1. Great work once again. Really like cover 3; I think the red saturation works really well considering the subject matter, and makes it stand out amongst the other Alien universe covers since the original movies don't use red a lot in their marketing material. Good to have you back!

    1. Thanks! Always enjoy getting your feedback. Yeah, the red one is pretty cool and unique.

  2. Hey Joel! I'm a massive fan of the Alien franchise, but I skipped Fireteam Elite entirely, since it seems to be just another bullet sponge shooter with Aliens. That's not what I love about the series, even though Aliens is my favourite film in the series. But this game seems to be missing all the suspense and survival horror aspects that were so grest in e.g. Alien Isolation. So I also can't say anything about Austin Wintory's score for that matter, as I haven't heard it yet. But he is an interesting choice, definitely. I gotta give it a listen someday.
    Luckily there are more Alien games (and films and a TV show) in the pipes, so I'll stay hungry for more :) good work on your covers! I also prefer the third one for the same reasons Glass stated above. And maybe because the red reminds me of the old Aliens comics I enjoyed in the past. One remark about #2: the ELITE is kinda hard to read, maybe there's a way to improve its legibility? I'd suggest tilting the whole image just a little bit clockwise.
    Keep up the great work!

    1. Thanks, for the kind words, heidl! Funny how one will put so much effort into a cover, but then often those get overlooked anyways, oh well, such is life. Good suggestion about #2, it's funny, sometimes you stare at a piece of work for so long, trying to perfect little details--but then forget that there's maybe a glaring issue that would jump out first-thing to someone else. I usually try to preserve the artwork in its original format, as much as possible, but in this case, you may indeed be right, or maybe at least increasing the drop-shadow so it doesn't get lost.