I’ve been a sneaky columnist, my friends. Oh yes I have. In my last Jukebox Heroes I posted my top six favorite MMO soundtracks, partially because I wanted to share, but also partially because I wanted to see the responses. I judged — correctly — that music fans would come out of the woodwork to champion their own favorite scores.
Quietly, I began collecting your comments and even favorite tracks, extending this secretive poll to include a Daily Grind I proposed on this subject. Compiling all of the information between the two, I came up with a list of not my, but your favorite MMO soundtracks without opening it up to vote manipulation.
So do you want to know what the collective Massively Overpowered audience thinks are the best MMO soundtracks to date? Read on as I list the the top 20 (in order) that you nominated!
1. Age of Conan
It was neck-and-neck with World of Warcraft for most of the tallying, but in the end Age of Conan’s beloved score secured the top spot on this list. “It will make you cry and despair,” qualsiasi wrote. “Best game soundtrack by a mile, it has a quality that belongs to cinema level.”
“I played about 300 hours of the game, and was always mesmerized by the beauty of the music,” testified ShagrathVtc. Another reader said that “Epilogue: The Eternal Empire” was the best track of the bunch.
2. World of Warcraft
With its enduring popularity and enormous body of work, it’s no surprise that World of Warcraft and its score is this high up on the list. Zsokorad shared this story about the soundtrack: “The very first time I rode a flight path into Orgrimmar, the music gave me chills as I saw this massive Orc city sprawling out before me. Nothing has quite matched that since, music-wise.”
“Only one game has produced a track that I’ve demanded, quite seriously, to have played at my funeral, and that is World of Warcraft (the track was ‘Invincible,’ by the way),” wrote Omedon.
3. Guild Wars 2
Again, no big surprises here — and no grudges from me to see Guild Wars 2 at the number three spot. Jeremy Soule’s score plus excellent in-house tracks equals a growing music library that’s definitely worth a listen.
“GW2 has a very mellow vibe to most its pieces that are very relaxing to listen to (yes, even the Charr city theme and the recently released Living Story pieces too),” says Siphaed.
“For its diverse range of tracks and its incredible sense of timing, it’s absolutely WildStar., Wolfyseyes wrote. “Jeff Kurtenacker has combined a bundle of different styles to make a magical ear salad.”
Line With More Hugs adds these thoughts: “But really, for the base game, both in quality and variety (macabre ambient choirs, western music, ’80s synths all in one? Yeah, nobody comes close to that), WildStar. Hope they’ll extend on it.”
“When it comes to MMO music, I’ll defend FFXIV any day!” Vexia commented. “I think Masayoshi Soken and his crew do some amazing work. Final Fantasy games have always had stellar music, a precedent set by Nobuo Uematsu and continued by both himself and other greats over the years.”
“You may find yourself liking one track of one MMO a lot, but when you’re exposed to the sheer quantity and quality of the FFXIV aural experience — the cumulative esprit de corps of its soundtracks rises above any other MMO I’ve experienced,” adds Porculasalvania.
6. EVE Online
“I have to say, there is just something about EVE’s soundtrack that I love,” said Rheem Octuris. “I don’t play the game myself, but the music sticks with me”
Stormwaltz gives this fantastic observation: “In an age where everyone assumes ‘fantasy game soundtrack = huge orchestra,’ Chance Thomas took the approach of making it sound like something the inhabitants could actually play for themselves. Sure, Elf zones have their sweeping, ethereal orchestrations, and zones added later tended toward bland synth washes, but Bree and the Shire are filled with humble and charming folk songs played on acoustic instruments.”
8. Guild Wars
“Guild Wars is the only MMO I didn’t turn the music off in, so I guess that says something,” said Rozyn.
“I would be remiss to not mention SWTOR,” Cyroselle submitted. “It’s kinda a no-brainer for a Star Wars fan like me, as it has that great John Williams sound, even when not done by the man himself.”
Neo_Wolf concurred: “Star Wars music always evokes so many happy childhood memories for me.”
10. The Secret World
“I have always maintained that The Secret World has one of the best original soundtracks of any MMO, and I know that they won at least one award for it,” Edany said.
The Bottom 10
To keep this list from getting insane, I had to cut it the big part off at just 10 entries, but rest assured that there were dozens and dozens of other nominations out there. Here are numbers 11 through 20, if you’re curious!
11. Lineage 2 (“The best, most atmospheric and emotional soundtrack in MMO genre,” said Oleg.)
12. EverQuest II (“Love the diversity,” said BryanCole.)
13. Final Fantasy XI (“Final Fantasy XI is the answer,” Shienne boasted.)
14. Aion (“One of the most stellar soundtracks I have ever listened to,” wrote Miniszlan.)
15. Elder Scrolls Online (“Calm and lovely sound,” testified MMOnerd.)
16. Anarchy Online (“Amazingly atmospheric,” Kataq said.)
17. City of Heroes (“An ode to electronic music,” soundbites ManastuUtakata.)
18. EverQuest (“The main theme still gives me goosebumps to this day,” wrote Hravik.)
19. Earth & Beyond (“The music in this game was epic,” said CastagereShaikura.)
20. TERA (“TERA has a pretty world, fun combat, and wonderful music,” opined Vexia.)