Jukebox Heroes: The 2015 Online VGM Awards


With another year coming to a close, I thought it would be an opportune time to go back and give out flippant awards to some of the MMO and MOBA soundtracks that released in 2015. Not every game gets an official album release, of course, but if there was a new game on the scene, rest assured that I was all over its music.

So read on for six awards that celebrate the highs and, yes, lows of the video game scores this year!

Quirk Embodied: Trove

Trove’s soundtrack contains a unique sound that is both childlike and magical, calling back to earlier video game eras while being its own creature. It’s far more relaxing and ambient than exciting and epic. However, if there was one term that I would apply, it would be “quirky.” There’s an impish spirit at play here that I appreciated. I hope that we get to hear more out of this soundtrack in the future.

All Grown Up: Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns

I’ve been beating on this particular drum for a while now, but it bears repeating: Guild Wars 2’s in-house music team is actually churning out a soundtrack that’s superior to Jeremy Soule’s base score. Hearing the goosebump-raising work that came out with this year’s Heart of Thorns reinforced my opinion that this team is all grown up in the music department and able to throw down on the same playing field as one of the industry’s top composers.

Best Superhero Anything: Infinite Crisis

It was a tragedy to see Infinite Crisis tank this year for several reasons, one of which was the fact that few players would get to hear the incredible score that Matthew Harwood produced. Seriously, I’ve played every superhero MMO out there, and this one MOBA had a better score than any of them. There’s such sheer variety, power, and creativity on display in this OST that I haven’t been able to stop recommending it to friends. At least it got an official release, which is more than I can say for some games!

Fantastical: Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward

Sometimes you want to settle into a nice comfy couch made of fantasy music, and if that’s the case, then Heavensward had you all sorts of covered this year. Final Fantasy XIV’s amazing score grew with the expansion this year, adding a wonderful variety of epic and moving tunes. I also particularly liked the reprise of a classic Final Fantasy track, Matoya’s Cave.

Greatest Disappointment: Elite Dangerous

I don’t think I’ve ever been let down as hard as I was by the Elite Dangerous soundtrack. When I saw that it was releasing a massive 3-CD set, I was overjoyed with visions of a wide body of potential awesomeness. Instead, I got scads of incredibly boring, understated synth that might be serviceable for ambiance but did nothing for me while listening to it other than make me fall into a deep and irreversible coma.

Best Bargain: League of Legends

I was doubly amazed by League of Legends this year. It not only released the first volume of its soundtrack (which was flat-out terrific), but it made it available for free. Which it still is, by the way, even though the studio is also selling it through digital platforms. No matter what you think about the MOBA, League of Legends’ OST is a treat to be experienced — and at a price that can’t be beat.

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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