Jukebox Heroes: The 2017 Online Video Game Music Awards

    
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Oh, I can hear all of you out there, mewing with frustration that Massively OP hasn’t yet announced the truly important awards yet this season. Well whine no more, because the 2017 Online VGM Awards are here (here are 2015 and 2016 for educational purposes)!

Not only are these the only awards that you’ll find on MOP that deal with the greatness that is MMO video game music, but these are also the only awards that are chosen solely by me. It’s a total power trip that Bree allows me once a year, and I do not squander it. Sure, perhaps I go overboard with the heralds and the flinging of glitter in the faces of my coworkers, but I need it. Oh how I need it.

Without further ado, here are the six awards that I will be handing out from my throne of speakers and keytars. Get your amazed faces ready now to save you the effort later.

Best MMO album release: Destiny 2

While the first Destiny soundtrack certainly had its highlights, the sequel definitely bowled me over with a massive assortment of tracks that demonstrated range and passion. From the quiet strains of Sanctuary to the stirring call to action in What We Fight For, Destiny 2’s album is far from an (ahem) one-note compilation. It knows when to be quiet, when to be loud, and how to craft a setting that exists more in your mind than on the screen.

Best MMO launch soundtrack: Revelation Online

Without a lot of full-fledged MMO releases in 2017, the field for the best soundtrack at launch was pretty narrow. Still, the Revelation Online OST has grown on me the more I listen to it, blending together western and eastern styles into a pleasant, attractive package. My current favorite? Emerald Falls.

Best MMO expansion soundtrack: Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind

On the other hand, there was plenty of competition in the expansion soundtrack category, but Morrowind easily clinches the win for me. It heavily leans on the classic Jeremy Soule score while adding a fresh take on it for the MMO. Definitely the best music that ESO has produced up to this point, and terrific questing themes no matter how you listen to it.

Best soundtrack discovery: RuneScape

This category is for a soundtrack that I “discovered” and listened through this year. While I’ve certainly been aware of RuneScape’s massive library of musical offerings, in 2017 I made it my mission to try to listen through all 1,200 or so tracks.

I am still not done.

However, I keep finding funny, catchy, and occasionally incredible tracks that make me boggle about how overlooked this score is. I can’t wait to hear the rest!

MMO theme of the year: Lord of the Rings Online: Mordor

While I am not that enthused about most of Mordor’s soundtrack, Aragorn’s Coronation Theme was a definite standout. It was so good, in fact, that the studio decided to make it the new login theme, which certainly gets me pumped up every time that I log in to play. It’s slow, majestic, and so very upbeat — quintessential LOTRO in its soul.

Carrying the Torch: Club Penguin soundtrack

This is a new category this year that I’m giving to game’s soundtracks that continue to carry the torch for a title that was just sunsetted. Club Penguin had its loyal cadre of fans out there who were disappointed to see Disney sunset the title earlier this year. However, the game is never truly dead as long as the music lives on, and my kids and I enjoy these toe-tapping beats!

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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Danny Smith

I always feel like saying FFXIV is cheating since it pulls from 30 years of some of the best videogame soundtracks ever but aside from ‘Journey’ in D2’s ‘okay but not as good as the first’ soundtrack XIV still takes it for me.

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Simon Kolomar

Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood and ESO: Morrowind are my fav’s of 2017 in term on music.

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wonder_llama

While Destiny 2 was ultimately a big disappointment to me, it did have its moments… The first time I saw The Traveler being caged and corrupted, and “Journey” started playing. That was a powerful moment there. Good stuff!

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A Tonberry's Tears

Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood brought forth another series of musical motifs and the instantly iconic Kugane refrain used for the game’s boss fights. I’ve never been reminded so much of series zenith Final Fantasy X (now is not the time for that debate) as I am with the music of this expansion, but it also has a unique feel all its own. I can’t wait for the soundtrack album to come out. That Kugane Castle theme, though!

Minimalistway
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Minimalistway

There should be “best vinyl album” of the year :-)

I’m going to listen to Runescape soundtracks, and in 2018 i should buy few albums, start building my digital library.

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Armsbend

I’ve been subbed to Amazon music for just under a year now. It, with a few echos and dots around the house is a game changer. I spend less and listen to more music than I have since my college years.

Most of these suggestions are part of their service. I’m looking at Morrowwind Soundtrack right now.

Minimalistway
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Minimalistway

I would love to have some Amazon support here, but no digital services from them where i live, i wrote to them about Kindle many times, telling them how they can support a remote islands in the middle of no where but not my country which is in the middle of everything? all i get from them is polite but useless answers.

So buying files is the next thing, from Bandcamp for example.

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

I have been listening to the Morrowind soundtrack for months now and just love it… good picks Justin!

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Sashaa

Same here, I just can’t stop listening to Morrowind’s soundtrack. And as much as I love LOTRO, even Aragorn’s Coronation Theme cannot save Mordor’s soundtrack for me. Quite the disappointment.

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Melissa McDonald

I’ll always stand by LOTRO for music, not only are the themes great, but you have unrivaled access to physically playing instruments in real time, where your computer keyboard is your piano / instrument keyboard. Also supports midi files where you can preload songs and then play them back like a player piano.

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rafael12104

Oh yes. I love these category of awards. Music on MMORPGs is so important and yet the unsung hero, no pun intended.

And as others mention, there are some incredible OSTs out there. Almost canon in their own right as when you hear them you are reminded of games and specific moments in games.

I like Justin’s picks over all. But, I will make some suggestions because… you can’t stop me. Lol.

Destiny 2 has a great OST. And since it was officially released this year, I think it takes the cake. The best OST I have ever heard is the Blade And Soul OST. It is amazing truly dense covering all the facets of the game.

Best MMO music expansion? Hmm. It might be Morrowind, but I think GW2’s PoF should certainly be considered, and BnS Solak OST should be in the running. Solak just launched on Dec. 6 so it is little known but nevertheless amazing.

Theme? Hmm. A lot harder for me to really boil it down to one musical theme for the year. There are so many games. So, I’ll abstain.

Now this is for MMOs only. I say that because if we open it to games in general, there is only one winner in almost all categories. Nier: Automata. It is one of the best OSTs of all time.

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

I feel like there are a couple of individual POF pieces that are better than anything Morrowind has, but Morrowind’s whole soundtrack is far more listenable on the whole. I wind up listening to Morrowind far more while working because of it.

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Oleg Chebeneev

I usually name Lineage 2 as MMORPG with best sountrack of all time, but today I name something new. And the winner of the best MMO sountrack of 2017 is…
STAR CITIZEN!

Pretty much every piece Ive heard in SC was a masterpiece (cuz Pedro Camacho is genius). From orchestraded epic to space ambient, everything was great and fit in perfectly. And it already has TONs of tracks for early alpha. Stations have not only separate track, but ambient pieces for different places within station. Here is just a taste:

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rafael12104

I haven’t heard much of it as I follow the SC saga from afar, but the music I’ve heard is very good. Very good indeed.

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Armsbend

The one thing I liked about Eve was some of the in game music. This kinda has the same vibe which I like.

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connor_jones

I especially love the track ‘But Still We Go On’ from EVE. I get goosebumps in a good way every time I hear it.

edangerous
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edangerous

Best in game sound – Elite Dangerous