With half the MMO community in a frenzy about the coming of World of Warcraft Classic this summer, many a gamer’s mind has turned back to ye olde dayz of vanilla WoW and the memories from the first go-around of that era of the game.
Other than playing the beta itself, there are few more sure ways of yanking us back in time than listening to the original soundtrack to this fantasy MMORPG. World of Warcraft’s vanilla score may have been surpassed in talent and quality by later expansion installments, but for my money, there will always be something special and earnest about this score that was never quite replicated in the more modern years.
So why not go back to World of Warcraft’s original score and see if we can’t trigger a fond memory or two with these half-dozen tracks curated from over 90 pieces that came out in the 2004-06 period. Give them a listen and let me know what your favorite tracks are from vanilla in the comments!
“Legends of Azeroth”
While Call to Arms may be World of Warcraft’s signature tune, I have always considered the original login theme to be the definitive track of vanilla. We certainly heard it the most, and those booming opening notes always made us anticipate the fun that was to come. I love how the track gets quiet and then builds this rather exciting movement that is at once martial, thrilling, and even a little foreboding.
The early steps into the human lands contained that mixture of heady anticipation and nervous discovery. We didn’t know what lay over the next ridge or down that dusty road, and music like this kept that feeling going long after we had discovered every inch of the land. I love how intimate and quiet this track is, as if it’s just playing for you and you alone.
Yes, many of the beginning zones had fantastic tracks, but I’ve always been the most partial to Dun Morogh. It’s a track that tiptoes around a fragile melody, giving off an aura of quiet frozen woodland and wilderness begging to be explored. I’ve listened to this track in game and outside so many times and I’ve yet to grow bored of it.
Oh, you’ve probably heard this so many times the notes pour out of your ears and eyes (somehow). And yes, maybe it’s overdone, but it’s still one of the more iconic and relaxing pieces of the original game — one that always made me feel as if I was stepping into a warm, homey sanctuary.
Special mention to the Forsaken tavern in Brill, which featured a unique track that developed a cult following for its jangling weirdness.
There were plenty of what I like to call “elfy tracks” in Vanilla WoW, including Darnassus and Moonglade, but there’s something special about Teldrassil’s theme that resonated with fans so strongly. It can be at times mysterious, spiritual, exciting, and exotic, and that mixture primed a generation of Night Elves to flip their way out of the World Tree and into other lands.
Considering just how much time some players spent in this zone, it should be expected that the Barrens theme was seared into their memories. It’s a desolate track, full of single instruments and slow pacing, perfect for exploring this wide-open landscape. I have a deep respect for atmospheric tracks that draw you into the mood of the zone without pushing you away from it, and this piece definitely does that (plus, woodblock!).