jukebox heroes

Jukebox Heroes is Justin Olivetti’s mad project to review all the MMO music in existence, one soundtrack at a time. [Follow this column’s RSS feed]

Jukebox Heroes: Revelation Online’s soundtrack

Eastern MMORPGs have a great shared legacy of incredible soundtracks, ranging from Aion to Lineage II to Final Fantasy XIV. And while there are both standouts and generic-sounding OSTs, it’s very unusual for an eastern game to feature a western composer.

But I suppose if you’re going to do that, you would do yourself well by recruiting from the best. I’m guessing that’s what happened with Revelation Online, which hired World of Warcraft and Overwatch Composer Neal Acree to score this fantasy title. The west-meets-east design here sounds a little bit odd and a little bit off to my ears, especially considering how Acree attempts to create a very Chinese-sounding album for a very Chinese MMO.

Was he successful? More or less, yes. It’s a decent soundtrack, nothing that I’m going to praise to the high heavens, but one that I won’t drag through the mud, either. I think that the best thing I can say about it is that Revelation Online’s score is that it’s very pleasant. And sometimes that’s exactly what you need when you’re sitting down to relax and play a game for hours on end. Let’s take a listen.

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LOTRO Legendarium: Reviewing the Mordor soundtrack

Here’s a weird thing to admit: I was actually concerned when I heard that Lord of the Rings Online brought back Chance Thomas to score this year’s Mordor expansion. It’s not that I dislike him or his music; on the contrary, I recognized that Thomas has created a large amount of terrific music for this MMO’s beloved score. And while SSG has done very well with its scoring in house (Gondor in particular), I would normally be ecstatic to see Thomas come back again.

My concern stemmed from the source material. Mordor is evil, through and through, and I knew that this would call for an oppressively dark soundtrack. I felt that no matter who scored it, it wasn’t going to be an eminently listenable album, and I worried that Thomas’ efforts would be hamstrung by this setting.

After receiving an advance copy of the score (which will go on sale digitally November 1st), I found my concern borne out. Mordor’s OST is very competent and does a great job helping to sell the corrupted, death-strewn nation — but it’s not anywhere near as fun to listen to as, say, Thomas’ adventurous Riders of Rohan or his classic Shadows of Angmar work. That said, there are a couple of standout pieces and some very interesting elements going on with these tunes, so let’s go through it track by track to grok this latest chapter in the LOTRO musical archive.

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Jukebox Heroes: Elder Scrolls Online’s Morrowind soundtrack

Lately I’ve felt the need to get into gear and cover a lot of the more recent MMO soundtracks that have released alongside their launches and expansions in 2017. If I’m going to get through these by the end of the year, I best start now!

And so our next soundtrack for examination is the rather excellent Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind OST by Brad Derrick. I haven’t hidden my disappointment in the base game’s soundtrack, as it didn’t quite live up to the expectations established by previous Elder Scrolls titles. Therefore, I’m happy to say that Morrowind really stepped up to deliver a much more memorable and moving soundtrack with plenty of nostalgic elements.

For more on the making of this score, read Derrick’s interview on the main site: “For The Elder Scrolls Online, the music has to bridge the gap between the familiar and the new, satisfying player expectations while still having a unique identity. This means making sure the music is ‘Elder Scrolls-y’ enough to sound like it’s from the same universe as the other games, but at the same time different enough so that it’s clearly ESO music, belonging to the time and spaces of our game.”

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Jukebox Heroes: Destiny 2’s soundtrack

I feel like making a bold statement today, so here it goes: Destiny 2’s soundtrack is far and away better than its predecessor — and I include any of the DLC’s music as well.

Oh, I didn’t dislike Destiny’s OST overall, but aside from a handful of noteworthy pieces, it wasn’t much more than sound and fury to me. Destiny 2, on the other hand, boasts meticulously crafted tunes that span an emotional spectrum of excitement, contentment, uncertainty, struggle, defeat, and victory across its rather expansive album. It was a delight to listen through the 44 tracks that make up the launch album and a struggle to choose just six of my favorite pieces to share.

The score was handled by a team of composers, including Michael Salvatori, Skye Lewin, Rotem Moav, Pieter Schlosser, and C. Paul Johnson. I truly hope that the game’s popularity spurs players to pick it up and hear some excellent video game music on its own. Let’s listen through a sample of what this OST has to offer!

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Jukebox Heroes: Music from Destiny 2, LOTRO, Absolver, Black Desert, and Champions Online

Apologies for being extensively absent from this column over the last few months! Every day the Massively OP offices are deluged with fan mail demanding, “Bring back Jukebox Heroes! Where is Jukebox Heroes? How can I survive without that epic MMO music to get me through the week?”

To which I can only mutter something about a classified mission to Paraguay, being adopted by a jaguar for six weeks, and subsequently finding myself co-starring with The Rock on his latest escapade. It’s all in the line of duty when you are an MMO reporter.

But I am back, and boy is there a lot of news to talk about this week! Let us catch up on the MMORPG music scene and see what is happening with Destiny 2, Lord of the Rings Online, Absolver, Black Desert, and Champions Online already!

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Jukebox Heroes: Six goofy RuneScape tunes

Over the past year I’ve nearly been bested by the unclimbable mountain that is the RuneScape soundtrack. With well over 1,200 tracks currently existing in the game, it’s sheer folly to try to listen to it all straight through. That, of course, is exactly what I’ve been attempting, yet with new tracks coming out all of the time, I feel that there’s no end in sight.

If I’m to be forever working my way through an MMO soundtrack, RuneScape is a great place to be. As I’ve been discovering, there is such a sheer variety of interesting and catchy tunes on display covering a wide swath of biomes, races, events, and situations. What I perhaps like best is how RuneScape’s score isn’t in the slightest self-conscious with being silly and bizarre. In fact, it seems to revel in it!

So today let’s take an odd musical interlude to listen to six goofy and weird RuneScape tracks before we all get serious again about our video games.

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Maclaine Diemer opens up about composing Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns

Today we are sitting down with ArenaNet Lead Composer Maclaine Diemer, who players might best know from his work on Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns and Living World Season 3. Diemer picked up the baton from Jeremy Soule, the original composer for the base game, and has been pumping out terrific music for the MMORPG ever since.

Massively OP: At this point in your career at ArenaNet, how many pieces of music have you composed for Guild Wars 2?

Maclaine Diemer: I think about this from time to time, but I honestly don’t know. I’d say it’s in the “several dozen” range, between all the holiday festivals, Living World content, Heart of Thorns, and other miscellaneous stuff like cinematics and marketing videos. It’s exhausting just thinking about it!

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Jukebox Heroes: Your top six favorite MMO music themes

After over a month of voting and counting down, we’ve arrived at the final six picks for your favorite MMORPG theme songs of all time. It’s been absolutely illuminating seeing the formation of this list and the placement of certain tracks, and I’m glad that everyone who wanted to got to participate.

Before I reveal the top six themes, here are a few honorable mentions:

  • Glitch by Vexia: “”As proof this is the ‘main theme’ since the game is closed, my soundtrack CDs have some variations of the Groddle Forest music that are titled ‘Glitch Theme (Demo),’ ‘Glitch Theme (Rook’s Woods),’ etc.”
  • EVE Online: Empyrean Age by Alex: “EVE has, like, DOZENS of theme songs. They make a new one for each expansion. It should win on variety alone. Or be in a different category. If I had to choose one, it would probably be the Empyrean Age login theme.”
  • Phantasy Star Online by Totakeke: “Boom, nothing can beat PSO’s theme. Period.”
  • City of Villains by Colonel Zechs: “Who wouldn’t like this song?”
  • SkySaga by Socontrariwise: “Just so cheerful!”

Are you ready? I know I am! Here we go!

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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!

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Jukebox Heroes: Your favorite MMO themes, #18-13

Last week we were off to a great start as we listened to the first batch of player-voted favorite MMO themes. As I said then, the results of the voting, in which I asked players to nominate up to 10 of their favorite main themes from online games, were both predictable and surprising. Nostalgia and familiarity obviously play a strong role in many of these votes, but no one was asking for objectivity here!

Today we’re going to continue our countdown to the top spot by looking at numbers 18 through 13 of your favorite MMO themes. I think there’s a good mix here, perhaps with tunes that I would have placed a little higher, but overall it’s gratifying to see each one of these make the list.

Enough jibber-jabber, let’s get to it!

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Jukebox Heroes: Your favorite MMO themes, #24-19

What are the best and most popular MMO theme songs of all time? A couple of weeks ago I posed this question to the Massively OP community and encouraged fans to submit their own list of music themes in response. We saw a healthy amount of email votes and comment nominations since then, and I was able to compile a nice list of the top 24 MMORPG themes from it.

There were several surprises, at least to me, in the final results. I thought some games would’ve gotten more nods, while others seemed to come out of nowhere to demand a spot on the list. Each of the themes on this list was put out there by at least two fans, which is why we’re going to start with number 24. I’m thinking we might have an honorable mentions column as a post-script, but we’ll see how it goes.

Today we will begin our countdown to number one, looking at your favorite MMO themes with my own take on each. Let’s get started!

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Jukebox Heroes: Vote for your favorite MMORPG theme songs of all time!

On a couple of past occasions, I’ve amused myself by posting countdown lists of my favorite MMORPG theme songs in this column. I was coming back around to the notion of doing that again when I decided that I should flip things over and have the readers create the countdown instead of me. After all, everyone seems to have an opinion as to which are the best MMO themes out there any time we’ve ever posted a Daily Grind about it, so why not hash it out?

So here’s the plan: Over the next two weeks, I will be accepting your votes for favorite MMORPG themes. I’ll then compile them and create a countdown list based on the most popular ones mentioned, which will be posted in upcoming Jukebox Heroes. If you ever thought that a particular theme didn’t get enough credit or simply want to share the theme tracks that get you revved up or make you nostalgic, here’s your chance!

Let’s go over some ground rules after the jump and then get to voting!

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Jukebox Heroes: The best of SWTOR expansion soundtracks

I have a confession to make: I was fairly underwhelmed by the original soundtrack release for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.

Sure, it did the job, hit some of those familiar Star Wars notes, and slathered the myriad of game worlds in music, but I found it either too weird (the cantina tunes, mostly) or too long and bombastic to enjoy. Wasn’t the worst I’d ever heard, but certainly not near what I would expect from a game bearing the Star Wars moniker.

Yet while I wasn’t looking, BioWare has produced some incredible musical chops for the past two expansions. My mouth was often agape when I was listening to Knights of the Fallen Empire and Knights of the Eternal Throne, because I kept thinking, “What is this! What is this! This is the soundtrack this game deserved all along!” It was quite the pleasant surprise, let me just say, and today I’m going to share some of my favorite pieces from these recent expansions with you.

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