Massively OP’s 2018 MMO Video Game Music Awards

    
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We have been talking a lot about what we’ve been playing this year and what we’re looking forward to in 2019 and beyond, but what about the music that has contributed so much to the soul of the MMORPGs that we love? This year has been a great one for new soundtrack releases as well as discoveries of past year’s albums, and I’ve enjoyed a full 12 months of listening through track after track of some of the best, worst, and most mediocre of MMO tunes.

As is the custom here on MOP, I get this one opportunity to grant awards as I see fit with absolutely no group consensus whatsoever. In today’s 2018 MMO Video Game Music Awards, I’ll be handing out honors to nine games that truly deserve some recognition with their composition. Put on your headphones and discover the winners below!

In going through scores and scores (pun intended) of MMO albums, I’m always open to being pleasantly surprised by soundtracks that were far better than I had expected. Worlds Adrift’s mellow and entrancing melodies are as alien as they are listenable, and I thoroughly enjoyed giving this entire OST a listen from start to end. Might actually have to play the game now!

Even though this is still very much a work-in-progress, Star Citizen’s soundtrack is already six kinds of amazing with the kind of range and production values that many MMOs would love to have. Space MMOs have not always had the best of scores (see Elite: Dangerous, Earth and Beyond), but this bodes really well for the soundscape that RSI is putting together.

While not as flat-out amazing as Morrowind was, Elder Scroll Online’s Summerset still managed to be a rather well-done expansion soundtrack worthy of a full listen. There’s more of a focus on high fantasy this time, and the whole deal feels like a throwback to the glory days of the single-player RPGs.

A game doesn’t have to launch or throw out an expansion to get new music — sometimes even a lowly update may be graced with its own soundtrack. Lord of the Rings Online greatly surprised me with a whole assortment of lovely tunes for the Dale update that managed to give a distinctive identity to this region versus everywhere else in the game. I’ve been singing its praises ever since.

I love me some good holiday tracks, especially since they seem to be a lost art of sorts. Black Desert gave us this moody and fun ditty for this year’s Halloween event, and I think it deserves some applause.

Here is a great exhibit of how much power music holds! Ashes of Creation’s trailers have been elevated beyond their promises and visuals by this magical, mystical score that is already pulling us into this fantasy world and making us yearn to live there.

This is a somewhat sad award that I want to give to a recently canceled MMO that will now live on solely through its soundtrack. WildStar may be a fading memory, but those memories can and will be refreshed every time we listen to this (now) award-winning soundtrack. I’m bummed about how the game went down, but at least I have this score as a fabulous consolation prize.

While I’m slightly allergic to ties, I’m going to have to split this award up between two album releases, as they’re both rather fantastic. First up is Final Fantasy XIV’s The Best, which put the game’s soundtrack to a community vote and compiled the 50 most favorite tracks for a full release. What a great idea!

Then there’s RuneScape’s Orchestral Soundtrack, which also got a full-fledged release. The re-recordings of these classic tunes with a full orchestra produced some flat-out wonderful songs that deserve to be heard.

Want to revisit more MMO music from this year? Check out my Jukebox Heroes articles and Battle Bards podcasts for great listens from 2018!

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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rafael12104

Warframe. I’ve just started noticing the music as I play and I think the OST is worth a look.

But if there was a single track category, this would be my submission.

oldandgrumpy
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Kickstarter Donor
oldandgrumpy

The SC sound track reminded me of Mass Effect just not sure which number it was.

Random MMO fan
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Random MMO fan

Yeap, I had the same feeling. Feels like a mix of ME2 soundtracks.

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Kickstarter Donor
Ken from Chicago

GUILD WARS

This was my first mmo. It spoiled me against WORLD OF WARCRAFT because even on my limited computer, it was sooooo pretty. But in addition to all the eye candy was ear candy and Jeremy Soule was the Candy Man delivering it. At least he was the first person who grabbed my attention for video game music to make me pay attention. He set the bar.

Now, you have STAR TREK ONLINE. Maybe there music is adapted from tv and movies, but I didn’t see anyone say that was forbidden so …

And for Justin, “Trippy the Space Elf”:

It was Battle Bards podcast and Jukebox Heroes that opened my eyes–or my ears–to the STAR CITIZEN soundtrack. Also, Massively OP podcast and previously Massively Speaking podcast, when Justin and Bree became the hosts after Shawn and Rubi left for greener pastures, they revealed how much great music there were in mmos by featuring a new one at the start of each episode.

I was miffed because I had liked the Forward March theme and had even downloaded a copy to listen to by itself on my HTC Touch Windows Mobile phone a decade ago. But I was wrong and glad Sypster stuck to his guns on that score. Music and audio is such an easily overlooked element in video games and mmos in particular. It’s nice to see them being highlighted.

Bree Royce
Staff
Bree Royce

I love seeing what weird thing Justin picks out to run before the cast every week too. It’s a novelty and I like it. :D

Alyn
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Alyn

I simply love well thought musical soundtracks for mmos. I have several I have shared with the readership here and I shall not do that today. It does make for a nice backdrop when adventuring. Thanks Justin!

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IronSalamander8 .

This is a difficult one. A lot of games have some solid music. For Wildstar it would be that Chua theme again:

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Bruno Brito

AAACHOO

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Oleg Chebeneev

Lost Ark shines in many areas and music is one of them. Here is just one of many pieces:

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Ironwu

LotRO for me. Because of the way the music fits so neatly with the various environments and themes. I don’t think there is any other MMO that I have actually left the music on at any volume; all the rest, slider to zero.

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Bruno Brito

I’m personally offended that it was Drusera’s Theme and not the Hymn of the Six.