Jukebox Heroes: The best of WildStar’s soundtrack

I can’t tell you how good it does my soul to see that WildStar has finally released an official soundtracktwo, in fact, with the hope of more to come. Fans of the score (and we are an army of rabid music evangelists) have been chanting at Carbine to make this a real thing since day one of the MMO’s launch. I won’t say that the music is the best part about WildStar, but it definitely is one of the key elements that makes it incredibly special.

Jeff Kurtenacker’s score deserves all of the praise that’s been heaped on it for delivering a rich, exciting, and incredibly memorable audio experience. There are recognizable themes all over the place, catchy riffs, electric Western twangs, crazy ditties, and even a somber hymn tucked away in there.

Picking out my six favorite tracks is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do this week, but I’m game for the challenge, especially when it means that I get to gab about this score more on this site. Here’s what I ended up choosing.

“Protostar Theme”

Outside of the 1950s and perhaps the Simpsons, I don’t think you’d ever hear music quite like this. It’s a zany take on old-fashioned commercialism and commercials, replete with a bizarre assortment of instruments that definitely skew in the direction of alien influences. It almost barrels breathlessly to a conclusion and I think it would make a great background track to almost any daily activity.

“Smooth”

Speaking of tracks that, um, you don’t hear very often in MMORPGs, here’s this one. It’s basically the WildStar theme fed through a heavy filter of 1980s synthesizers, and it’s one of my favorite things in the entire world. Maybe I’m just a sucker for the ’80s, but I can live with that.

“A Story of Hope and Healing”

Each race in this game (including many of the NPC races) has its own recognizable theme, and I’ve come to deeply appreciate the Aurin one. A Story of Hope and Healing is a bittersweet, magical track that starts subdued and then erupts into this glorious exclamation of… well, hope, I guess. I would have loved to heard this performed for the recording.

“Our Perception of Beauty”

A slow burner and a fan favorite, Our Perception of Beauty takes us into the story of Drusera. It’s so very sad and so very lovely all at the same time, in that way that you can sense something magical slipping away. The flute, violin, and vocals will haunt you for days afterward.

“Hymn for the Six”

It may not be a track that gets a lot of play on my MP3 player, but I couldn’t ignore it for the sake of this list. It’s a powerful cathedral hymn in which the choir takes the starring role, with the organ and percussion performing backup. The interplay between the male and female vocals gives me goosebumps every time.

“A Golden Field”

As an Exile player who deeply loves housing, I’ve spent more hours listening to this particular track than I care to admit. And you know what? It’s still deeply relaxing and enjoyable. It’s not quite ambient at all, but more like someone sitting on a porch strumming away while you get in a good day’s work.

I could probably do another three or four articles going through the rest of my favorites, but I think I’d rather hear about yours! Post your picks (and YouTube links) in the comments.

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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