Recently, Square Enix invited Final Fantasy XIV fans to vote on their favorite music tracks from what has become a very expansive and acclaimed score. The 50 top-voted pieces were compiled into a new album called The Best which has been on-and-off the market ever since mid-November.
Apart from being a little put back at the $50 price tag and the difficult acquisition of the album (c’mon, sell digitally already!), I think this is a wonderful idea. FFXIV dearly love the music of this game and for good reason — it’s loaded with terrific tunes. However, we all have our favorites, and some of mine didn’t make it at all onto that album while others that I don’t care for (such as over-long boss fight pieces with heavy choir) shot up to the top.
So I thought I’d deliver my current “best” picks for FFXIV’s score according to what I enjoy listening to while I’m driving in the car or on a chocobo. I’ll even throw in a bonus seventh track, as long as you promise not to lambaste me for omitting main themes (let’s just agree those are great, OK?).
“Stone and Steel”
I’m a sucker for a good stirring theme as much as anyone else, and this track never fails to get my blood pumping. With strong drums and inspirational horns, Stone and Steel is powerful without being fancy. If you’re going to walk into battle in slow-motion, this is the track for you.
“A New Hope”
A lot of FFXIV tracks are inspired by or outright ripped from previous Final Fantasy games, and this piece sounds so much like what I might have heard from VII, VIII, IX, or X. I didn’t really play past X, but I don’t think I’m missing too much there. Anyway, it’s a rather loud town theme, but after a while it breaks to be quieter and swirly. I just love the optimistic tone and Star Warsy horns that run throughout. Hey, maybe that’s why it’s called “A New Hope?”
“Wailers and Waterwheels”
Easily my most favorite town theme, Wailers and Waterwheels soaks right into me and leaves me feeling content and purposeful. This track is a complete earworm that I can’t stop whistling or humming hours after I hear it, and I still have an emotional reaction whenever it comes on the speakers.
While this is an incredibly minimalistic track in terms of a harmony, Snowcloak is more about laying down a wintry atmosphere that’s bright and beautiful. I love the background noises (sort of sound like birds?) and the fact that this quiet, tranquil tune is used as a dungeon theme.
A reprise of a classic Final Fantasy theme, Matoya’s Cave is sublime in its execution. Every instrument here conveys a lot of feeling, and I find myself amazed that the transition between vastly different instruments that doesn’t break the theme at all.
Everyone loves Terra’s Theme from FFVI, and I am no different in this regard. It’s such a quintessential Final Fantasy tune, and I was overjoyed that it returned to be the theme song to your magitek mount. For best effect, walk across an endless snowfield while playing.
“Brothers in Arms”
So much quiet, let’s end with another action track! I must have heard this Guildhest theme a hundred times, but even so it really held up as a fun action track that made every fight feel far more epic than it had any right to be.