“Wait a minute,” you say out loud to your computer. “Western MMORPGs aren’t a thing, except in my fondest dreams. How can you write an entire column on music from these imaginary games?”
It is true, there really aren’t many (if any) “wild west” MMOs, but that isn’t to say that we are lacking for western areas and themes in our games. The American west makes for a great backdrop when its fictionalized into games, whether they be fantasy or sci-fi, and composers do love to sneak in a western-sounding track or two into their albums as well.
Today we’re going to be listening to a wide range of MMORPG soundtracks that would be comfortable on the frontier. So pull a log up to the fire, take our your harmonica, and think of a home on the range!
Fallen Earth: “Renewal”
Fallen Earth is probably the closest thing we have to a full-fledged western MMO, and even if it has to mix the apocalypse in with it. It’s no surprise then it incorporates some wicked cowboy tunes into its soundtrack like Renewal.
This is probably my favorite track from the entire game. It goes through many transitions, from desolate-sounding stretches to an expressive acoustic guitar to Native American flutes. You truly do feel like you’re riding through the desert underneath the expansive starfield when you listen to it.
WildStar: “Bandits, Thieves, and Epic Loot”
This is another MMO that capitalizes heavily — but not entirely — on western themes and tropes. Especially on the Exile side, you’re going to hear a lot of country tracks like this, starring Mr. Banjo, Ms. Fiddle, and their friends. This is most certainly an action piece with great energy and an optimistic spirit, and every time I listen to it I pick out a different instrument to appreciate.
Aion: “Crimson Hills”
I know I’ve featured this track before, but I felt it fit in so well with the theme that I had to drag it out again. Plus, it’s a dyn-o-mite tune! This is kind of a fusion between western and jazz, but the extensive use of the harmonica makes it feel like something a modern cowpoke would bust out during a moment of downtime.
Pirate101: “Cool Ranch Tumbleweed Skyway”
If you like your westerns classic and upbeat, you can’t go wrong with this track. From the very first notes, you can tell that this is an homage to spaghetti westerns — with a piratey twist. It’s mostly an action track, although it does slow down in spots for a harmonica breather or two.
Ragnarok Online: “Ancient Cowboy”
Modern cowboy, perhaps? Kind of hard to imagine a lot of electric guitars back in the olden days, but hey, I wasn’t there, so who knows. It’s a kick-butt track no matter what, although sadly it ends well before it should.
Ultima X Odyssey: “Desert Sun”
I have a particular fondness for tribal music, especially that which makes me think of western natives who are singing to and about the land. This track from the never-launched Ultima X Odyssey brings in a soulful flute, weaving a tapestry of isolation, danger, and stark beauty.