Jukebox Heroes: Your favorite MMO themes, #12-7

It’s starting to get serious now.

As we well know, people are highly opinionated about everything, but when it comes to music, there seems to be a (pardon the pun) higher pitch to the passion of those arguments. I’ve been doing an MMO music podcast for over three years now, and believe me when I say that there have been countless times when myself and my cohosts were aghast when someone hated a tune we liked and vice-versa, even though we shouldn’t have been surprised.

So as we head into the top 10 of the best MMO theme songs, as voted on by the Massively OP community, expect a lot of opinions and controversies. You may not like the picks, the order, or the comments, but hopefully one or two of these will make you happy (and there’s always room to be pleasantly surprised by a track you never heard before!). Suck it up and jump with me!

12. Elder Scrolls Online

To my knowledge, this is the only track from ESO that series composer Jeremy Soule came back to do. It’s a variation on the same theme that he’s been doing since Morrowind, and while it’s decent, to my ears it sounds a little too phoned in, especially compared to the other three versions. It sounds a little more timid and foreboding without much of a glimmer of hope. The choir is a stream of soft emotion here that sounds more like a cathedral choir than the harsh Nordic barkings of Skyrim.

11. Grenado Espada

Consider me more than a little gobsmacked to see that players knew enough of this game — and its music — to nominate it for a place on this countdown. But here it sits, just outside of the top 10, and I continue to find the universe surprising.

While the soundtrack as a whole might be very eclectic, the main theme is a restrained, soulful piano piece that channels pure melancholy while sounding a bit like something from the classical era. I enjoyed the lighter and more playful intermission, but the rest sounded a lot like an intro to Silent Hill or a sad lifetime drama on cable. Very interesting pick, this.

10. TERA

The high fantasy world of Arborea gets a rich and upbeat theme in this original track. It’s a little odd in a way that’s hard to articulate, but I found myself warming up to it about midway through. It’s a very distinct melody with a slow and steady percussion track and heartfelt strings, and it might be interesting to compare against all of the later login themes that this game has sported.

9. World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria

World of Warcraft’s third and final entry on this list scoots a theme into the top 10. Again, if I was to predict, I would have guessed vanilla or Wrath for a fan favorite main theme, but it’s all good. Hard to go wrong with one of WoW’s titles. Like all of the other expansions, this track mixes portions of the original theme with its own focus, which is a very classic-sounding Chinese soundtrack. It’s definitely warmer and less bombastic than some of the other themes, which is perhaps why players took a shine to it.

8. WildStar

Over time, this main theme has steadily crawled up my all-time favorite list — if not in the top spot, than to at least in the top three. I love the slow burn at first, then the explosion into a rollicking track that begs to be played at top volume. While the bulk of this track is done with an orchestra, there are some weird and alien synth sounds tossed in to give it a nice sci-fi bent. Every day in my house should begin with this playing on the radio.

“Unique and rousing, I miss the sound and atmosphere,” reader Socontrariwise wrote, “but not the game.”

7. Final Fantasy XI

FFXI’s soundtrack has not aged the best (c’mon, admit it), especially when compared against the juggernaut of FFXIV’s OST, but there are plenty of gems here to enjoy. The main theme, Vana’diel March, feels more like it belongs back in the older days rather than the modern era. However, I kind of dig its steady, toe-tapping march and how it weaves in the prelude notes here and there to fit between the beat.

Next time on Jukebox Heroes: the six most popular MMO themes!

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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9 Comments on "Jukebox Heroes: Your favorite MMO themes, #12-7"

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Kickstarter Donor
Vexia

I’m interested to see what the top picks are for sure, but I’d also like to see a feature on the weird and/or obscure themes that people voted for. I know I came up with a few myself, but it’s always interesting to see what kind of main themes smaller games come up with. Sometimes they’re generic, but surprisingly good ones crop up too.

Reader
life_isnt_just_dank_memes

That Grenado piece was fantastic. I’ve never heard of that game before.

adadfor3
Reader
adadfor3

SWG – “To Start A Journey”

Reader
Fabian Leibundgut

*standing up, holding hat to the heart, head slightly tilted to the ground*

Reader
Oleg Chebeneev

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Giannis Papadopoulos

Ffxiv- dragonsong
Wotlk- death of lich king cinematic soundtrack
Wow- teldrasil and howling fjord zone music

These are my best

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Bhima Jenkins

I gotta give Maclaine Deitmer credit, his theme for GW2’s expansion is fantastic. Its a good theme made even better by having what is possibly the best arrangement of any epic-style fantasy music. The instrument choices, and sound mixing are perfect.

Reader
jay

FFXIV is amazing as well, the music so well matches the areas it’s just perfect, while giving it a lot of nostalgia for old FF games of the past.

TSW’s score is so absolutely perfect for the theming, environment, and feel of the game. It’s superbly creepy at just the right moments, and uplifting just at the perfect queues.

In the end though, for me the best score of any MMO has to go to Age of Conan. Back in the day, AoC brought forth serious feelings every time I logged into the game, it really felt the world come alive. Even today that sound track still brings back memories. Even if I hated how shallow the game was in the end.

For pure nostalgia though, the theme to Everquest still gives me chills every time I hear it. I know the score is crap, and it’s all circa 1990 midi and all. Even with all of that, every time I hear that intro i get chills. All of the old memories of my first MMO come rushing back, and I’m transported in time back to 1999.

This does make me wonder though. In 20-30 years, when everything is virtual reality, when we literally interface with the computers via our brains, will RPG type games still have music? Or will they be more true to life, and the only place you would hear music in them would be in a tavern?

Yangers
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Kickstarter Donor
Yangers

Age of Conan is a pretty good theme song.

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