Jukebox Heroes: Six MMO soundtracks that need to be in your collection

Lately, a friend was asking me where he should start with collecting MMO soundtracks. “Pretty much anywhere and everywhere” was my initial reaction, although that was not quite as helpful as he needed. So we started talking about grabbing all of the free soundtracks out there as well as snapping up particular albums as a backbone of a good collection.

Frankly, if it’s an online game and it’s released a soundtrack, I will buy it. I don’t care what kind of MMO it was or how popular it might have been; often the quality of the music is divorced from whether or not I would play that particular game. So while my collection is pretty expansive, I understand that a beginner collector can’t just buy all the things right away.

So that created an interesting thought exercise for me. If I was starting out and had the funds and desire to purchase, say, six albums off the bat, which ones would I pick? It was tough, but I came up with the following list to recommend to any MMO OST fan as “must haves” for a good collection.

1. Final Fantasy XIV

An advance warning with this soundtrack: You can go very broke trying to buy the full Final Fantasy XIV score, particularly if you are seeking both the old (1.0) soundtrack and the Realm Reborn stuff. This is because Square Enix doesn’t exactly make it easy to buy digital albums, preferring to sell expensive import CDs and hacked-up albums elsewhere.

That said, picking up one or more of the city soundtracks for FFXIV is a good starting point. There are four of them out right now — Gridania, Ul’dah, Ishgard, and Limsa Lominsa — and all offer around 10 great tracks by Nobuo Uematsu and others for $4.

2. Lineage II

No, I don’t care how fast you might dismiss Lineage II from your interest as a playable game; I care that you acknowledge that this is one astounding (and expansive) soundtrack that is among the best that MMOs have put out. You need at least one of them in your collection, and if you’re starting out then I’d recommend the Interlude album. It’s got pieces by Inon Zur and Bill Brown, among others, and does a good job representing Lineage II’s wide range of musical excellence.

3. Aion

I call Aion, Lineage II, and Final Fantasy XIV my eastern trifecta — all three have simply astounding scores and are among my personal favorites. Like the others, Aion has multiple soundtrack releases and keeps pumping out great new music all of the time. Any of the game’s albums would be great to include (as a bonus, they all give you a lot of tracks for your money), but I say go right back to the start with its original soundtrack release. Lots of good stuff there!

4. Lord of the Rings Online

The earlier LOTRO albums are a little hard to come by these days but are definitely worth the trouble of tracking down. But even if they were available digitally, I would still tell you to get the Riders of Rohan soundtrack. It’s such a terrific score from start to end that builds on the game’s past and embraces the theme of this horse-riding nation. Chance Thomas really outdid himself on this one and I have a feeling that it’s probably the last full album we’ll ever see sold from this game.

5. Guild Wars 2

Really, Guild Wars anything is usually a welcome addition to a game soundtrack collection. The first Guild Wars has soundtracks still available (and are all great), although Jeremy Soule for some reason pulled the released Guild Wars 2 soundtrack from his store, makingit unavailable to purchase anywhere. I am not a fan of this move.

So instead, I say give some props to the recent musical additions to the game and pick up the rather good Heart of Thorns score and let yourself be swept away into this fantasy world. You won’t be disappointed!

6. World of Warcraft

Over the years, Blizzard’s built up an impressive library of music for World of Warcraft. While it’s not consistently excellent (very few soundtracks are), there are a lot of terrific pieces that make purchasing any if not all of the released albums worthwhile. However, I will say that some of the expansions are better than others, and all of the albums leave out a lot of music that was put into the game.

But if I had to pick just one soundtrack to buy, I’d throw down a wild card and suggest the Taverns of Azeroth album. It’s a 19-track collection and rearrangement of many of the tavern themes in the game, offering a high ratio of quality to quantity. You won’t get a lot of action pieces here, but you will be treated to lovely atmospheric tracks that put you right into the middle of a fantasy world. It’s probably one of my favorite albums to listen from start to end.

MMOs are meant to be heard as well as seen, and chances are that music ties your memories to these games more than you might realize. Every two weeks Jukebox Heroes listens through a game soundtrack and picks out the highlights to share and discuss. And if you like this column, then don’t miss the author’s MMO music podcast, Battle Bards!
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66 Comments on "Jukebox Heroes: Six MMO soundtracks that need to be in your collection"

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Halaegus
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Halaegus

ComradeStanimir
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ComradeStanimir

Age of Conan has to be on here. Just an oversight.

dangerbeard
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dangerbeard

Syppi I’ve never yanked! … from youtube! Thanks for the advice. I’ll figure out how to make that happen.

Estranged
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Estranged

BC and Wrath are tied at #1 for me.

Estranged
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Estranged
Syppi
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Syppi

dangerbeard You can always yank it from YouTube, there’s over 100 tracks. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-XnwUD2d6k&list=PLD585E063A8259C16

zoward
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zoward

Syppi zoward Anarwen  Right on!

kgptzac
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kgptzac

Here’s a niche one: Tartaros Online.  Somehow that game’s soundtrack has stuck with me for years even though I only briefly played that game.

kgptzac
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kgptzac

DPandaren On a side note, PSO 2’s sound track is also quite nice.  The only issue I guess is that PSO2 isn’t really an MMO ;p

dangerbeard
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dangerbeard

I’d love to get my hands on the Vanguard: Saga of Heroes soundtrack. I haven’t found it. I even bought an old “unopened” collectors edition off eBay, but it totally had been opened and soundtrack removed. Anyone have any ideas?

BryanCo
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BryanCo

Modrain BryanCo  Now that’s quite nice.  The one in the article sounded like a bunch of flatulent robot hamsters were hanging around in the background.

voydd
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voydd

It must have gone bad with Jeremy Soule and Arenanet. It’s a shame this composer is a legend. Fortunately for me I got gw2 soundtrack when it was still available:)

DPandaren
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DPandaren

Taverns is really really good. Probably one of my favorites from WoW and one of my favorite patches when they stuffed those inn themes into the game right on the sly. Might be because my favorite kind of patch from them is the kind that isn’t datamined to crap. It was a cute little update that really made the game felt a bit nicer. 

But come on , PSO. It’s so good. 

Syppi
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Syppi

JonBuck Yeah we need an official release already!

Syppi
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Syppi

Omedon Pandaria is a really good expansion soundtrack. I think I’d list the expansion OSTs in this order: Wrath, Pandaria, Cataclysm, Burning Crusade, Draenor. The OFFICIAL soundtracks, that is — Draenor’s best stuff wasn’t released on the album, which is a shame.

Syppi
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Syppi

Wilhelm Arcturus Syppi Frankzy I really like the new EVE theme they posted this past week.

Syppi
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Syppi

zoward Anarwen It’s very acquired. There’s a bit on TSW’s soundtrack that I really like, but much of it is quite ambient and not that… catchy? At least it doesn’t catch my ear. There’s also a lot of additional in-game radio music that never made a release anywhere official.

Syppi
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Syppi

ZenDadaist Yeah that “leaving stuff out” thing irks me to no end. Fortunately many players cover that by putting that music on YouTube.

Syppi
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Syppi

Porculasalvania I’m sure LOTS of people would say pick up the Age of Conan soundtrack as well. Has a good reputation.

zoward
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zoward

Nevid  By the way, there’s a nice remix of the FF XI sound track here:

http://landofvanadiel.com/lov/

zoward
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zoward

Syppi Nevid I’d have to say: they both have their charms.  My only complaint is they’re hard to get ahold of  (legally) at a reasonable price.

zoward
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zoward

JonBuck Yep – Wildstar has awesome music.  Still waiting for them to release a formal soundtrack :-(

zoward
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zoward

Anarwen I bought The Secret World soundtrack and listen to it fairly often, but as a soundtrack it’s an acquired taste.  It’s very ambient, and people who haven’t played the game might not like it.  Personally, when I find myself listening to it in the car I usually think, “damn, I wish I was playing The Secret World right now!”.

SirMysk Needs (More) Coffee, Probably
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SirMysk Needs (More) Coffee, Probably

Modrain BryanCo Ohhh I had forgotten about this one.

thatchefdude
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thatchefdude

palejens While I like some of ESO OST, I disagree about the main theme, I think it’s pretty bad…

Porculasalvania
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Porculasalvania

For me it’s a toss-up between Age of Conan and Final Fantasy XI

Back in the days I loved this soundtrack, which was within a stone tower at the root of giant tree that defined the city inhabited by the Tarutaru (think ewok wizards and the progenitors of the Lalafelle):

From Age of Conan this was my favorite soundtrack, which was part of the Rise of the Godslayer expansion:

bobuliss30
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bobuliss30

Personally, I can’t get into a soundtrack for a game that I didn’t absolutely love.  It’s all about the nostalgia for me.  When I hear a track like https://soundcloud.com/ccpgames/eve-online-below-the-asteroids or https://soundcloud.com/ccpgames/eve-online-miner-stories?in=ccpgames/sets/eve-online-in-game-tracks I think about undocking in my first frigate, having absolutely no idea what I was doing and loving every minute of it.

Of the soundtracks listed, I may have to look into the WoW offerings.  So many memories there.

Warking
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Warking

Tree of Savior has an amazing soundtrack

ZenDadaist
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ZenDadaist

The trouble with OSTs is that they often leave out stuff and it’s usually just my luck that the stuff they loeave out is the stuff I find the most appealing. Plus new music introduced with new content, particularly if it isn’t tied to a specific expac which might have its own soundtrack. Rift is an example of this. Most of the Rift music is boring once you’ve heard it and got the atmosphere, but there’s a couple of tracks which catch my ear. Nightmare Tide has a few nifty ditties as well including one of the new dungeon themes.

palejens
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palejens

Also ESO has some great music.
The main theme is just epic

palejens
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palejens

For me, nothing ever comes close to Lament of the Highborn.
First time I heard it, I was blown away.
The setting in game had a big role to play in this as well though.

zoward
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zoward

I was mildy surprised to see that what I thought of as my fairly large MMO music collection didn’t include half of these!  I had some extra credit left over from a Christmas gift so  picked up Aion  (which I knew was awesome) and Heart of Thorns (which I’m taking mostly on faith based on the links in the story and comments, since I don’t play GW2) using the links in the story so MOP gets the referral credit.

Modrain
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Modrain

BryanCo Not representative at all. No single track from Aion could be representative of the whole OST, it’s just way too diverse. It also has tracks like this one, for example (that can be heard without lyrics in some areas, and with the lyrics when talking to an NPC) :

TogashiKokujin
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TogashiKokujin

Frankzy Many many thanks for reminding me of the glory that is the EVE soundtrack. It’s been an age since I played, but I loved the songs so much that I even remembered the titles of some.

Lineage 2 has great music as well, but EVE is the best, hands down.

Halaegus
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Halaegus

BryanCo
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BryanCo

I’ve never played Aion, but if the video above is representative I’m pretty sure turning the music off would have been one of the first things I did.

Rumm
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Rumm

Omedon Pandaria was such a unique shift from everything else that we saw in the game, from aesthetics to an amazing soundtrack that put it over the top. Blizzard set out to capture a certain feel with that expansion, and I think they nailed it on the head (content not withstanding).

Madda
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Madda

If you’re the type of person that doesn’t want to spend money and support others for their work, you can always just Youtube to MP3.

Because college.

Rumm
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Rumm

zyrusticae Shadow in the Sunset is incredible, thanks for the links. Big fan of 20 myself:

Bereman99
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Bereman99

One minor detail, if I may, on the main FFXIV soundtracks.

They aren’t traditional CDs and instead come on Blu-ray Music Discs. Any modern device that can play Blu-ray should work, but you can’t use them in a traditional CD player.

Now personally, I’ve found them to be worth it, since you get more than just music on a disc (which is 4-6 hours worth and in high quality). You also get MP3 downloads of the songs (plus usually a couple secret tracks), art and video that plays if you listen to it on something connected to a screen, and extra bits of content like video of concert performances (think it’s about an hour’s worth on the ARR sound track), and for those who play the game the most recent two still give minions – Before Meteor and A Realm Reborn have both passed the expiration date for the code, and in fact aren’t sold on the Square Enix store anymore, so getting a used copy from a reputable seller for less is viable option at this point, unless you want it brand new.
They are essentially meant to be collector’s pieces of a sort, the kind meant for ardent fans.

That said, you can get a lot of the good songs as part of smaller options, or even single songs if you happen to use iTunes.

That being said for the that being said…you can find essentially the entire thing on Mekkah Dee’s YT channel as well.

Phubarrh
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Phubarrh

Restark Give me “Logan’s Journey”!

zyrusticae
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zyrusticae

Forgot to mention that they’re easily available on iTunes or (preferably) Google Play Music:

https://play.google.com/store/search?q=Blade%20%26%20Soul&c=music

The Story obviously includes a collection of tracks that play during key story beats, while The World collection includes the rest of the tracks included with the base game and all level 45 content (including the pirate dungeons, though not Mushin Tower floors 7 and up). Silverfrost Mountain, meanwhile, is all post-patch content for levels 45-50. There is, of course, a bunch of newer tracks that have yet to be released, but will likely be included in another soundtrack release down the line. 

You get a TON of music for the price, too. Standard album pricing for 50+ tracks? Ridiculous. NCSoft is really good about these soundtrack releases, huh?

Siphaed
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Siphaed

Love the GW2:HoT. Really enjoy the Jaka Itzel song I think most of all:

cursedseishi
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cursedseishi

Likely doesn’t help that FF11 was locked beneath the performance limitations of the PS2, even with the requisite hard drive. Even still, anything Uematsu-Composed has a great chance of being… Well, great, at the very least. Even PS1 era music can hold up pretty decently.
I would, though, likely end up choosing 14 over 11 simply because of that… While also acknowledging it had a strong sound track as well.

Wilhelm Arcturus
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Wilhelm Arcturus

Syppi Frankzy Nope, you can’t buy it because it is free to download.  CCP put it all up over on Sound Cloud, the OST and all the follow on music.

Syppi
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Syppi

Old Man Yells at Game He could’ve made it available to purchase digitally as he did with Guild Wars 1. There were options, but instead, we get robbed a soundtrack. I have a considerable grudge against him because of this.

Syppi
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Syppi

Frankzy I was focusing on soundtrack albums you can buy. I don’t think EVE is out there as a purchasable OST.

Syppi
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Syppi

Nevid If you say so. I’ve listened through both and greatly prefer XIV. XI to my ears sounds a lot older and there are fewer noteworthy tracks than XIV.

zyrusticae
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zyrusticae

Your “Eastern Trifecta” is going to have to become a quadfecta soon enough:

The soundtrack’s just chock-full of great stuff. One of the few I like to listen to repeatedly outside of the game.

Anarwen
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Anarwen

If they    don’t have The Secret World they’re idiots. It’s the only one that I ever bought just to hear when I wasn’t actually playing.

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