Jukebox Heroes: The best of FFXIV Shadowbringers’ soundtrack

    
25

I don’t see a lot of chatter about it, but from talking with some of my Final Fantasy XIV-playing friends, Stormblood was at best “OK.” It was an adequate expansion full of adequacy, and that adequaciousness spread over the soundtrack as well. I didn’t hate Stormblood’s score, I just had much higher expectations coming off of the amazing Realm Reborn and Heavensward offerings.

So now that we’re in the game’s third expansion, the crucial question for me is: Does Shadowbringers return FFXIV to its heights of musical glory, or does it do the job and nothing more a la Stormblood? My opinion is that it’s somewhere in between. There are a few absolutely fantastic tracks, many very good ones, and plenty of forgettable pieces. But overall, I see Shadowbringers as another positive notch on Composer Masayoshi Soken’s belt.

I’ve picked seven tracks to share with you today — give them a listen and let me know what you think in the comments!

“Main Theme”

After a bombastic opening, the familiar Final Fantasy harp strings are heard, nostalgia is rekindled, and all is right with the world. There’s a certain pattern to Final Fantasy themes, and this one falls in line with a lot that came before it, which makes it hard to critique. You either love this sort of theme or you don’t. Most times that FFXIV starts dipping into intense vocals, I tune out, but I love that this track starts working in the electric guitar to give it a rock-and-roll vibe. It’s a bit rusty and gnarly at the edges (again, those vocals), but at the core it’s a pretty fun ride.

“Lakeland Night”

So here’s a weird thing about FFXIV’s score: It never feels quite integrated into the game as it should be. Oh, don’t get me wrong, it’s often fantastic, but it’s like you’re playing the game AND listening to the music for it rather than both together. The score makes no qualms about being bold in a way that’s hard to ignore it, and that creates a slight dissonance that can serve to lift one out of the game rather than deepen the immersion. Anyway, my opinion.

In this track, which is a lovely piano bit that typifies the peaceful night tunes that FFXIV offers, it’s like this poor chocobo is running around while a frantic piano player is chasing it from behind, banging away on the keys all the while.

“Boss Theme”

Give me a boss theme like this over some choir angry-chanting any day! The pulse-pounding beat is soon joined by a distorted voice that sounds just like the one that Anthem included in its OST. I quite dig it, to be honest, and this whole track has to be amazing background music for drawn-out fights against monstrous foes.

“Rak’tika Greatwood”

If you haven’t heard this track by now, then you’ve probably heard people raving about it. The Rak’tika Greatwood theme is most assuredly the breakout track of Shadowbringers and another great entry into the canon of memorable zone themes in FFXIV. It’s uplifting, catchy, and moody in the best of ways to the point where it becomes a total earworm that you don’t want to ever dislodge. Someone in the comments noted that this has a touch of Enya to it, which I can see. Doesn’t bother me at all!

“The Twinning”

A little bit techno and a lot rock, The Twinning creates one of those breathless, nonstop themes that won’t relent until you win or die trying. Is it overpowering for use in the game proper? Perhaps, but you have to admit that this would be perfect if you wanted to make a FFXIV montage video featuring all of your best moves.

“Dancer’s Theme”

When I first heard this track, a wave of dizziness washed over me. It took me about six seconds to figure out that this is another one of those Final Fantasy throwback remixes — in this case, the terrific “Vamo’ Alla Flamenco” from Final Fantasy IX. Man, I loved that game (and that game’s soundtrack), and I’m super happy to see it brought back for the kinetic Dancer’s theme.

“Kholusia Everlasting Light”

I felt like we needed to end on a quieter, more introspective track, and this one certainly fit the bill. It’s a pretty enough track on the surface, but right underneath lurks something else. Something not as comfortable and friendly. Something even a little unsettling and terrifying. That’s a hard trick to pull off in a track, and I found that this one rewarded a lot of relistens.

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!
newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
Reader
Loyal Patron
mjayg

I don’t see this on Apple Music though other soundtracks from XIV are there. Does anyone know if there is a release date for the Shadowbringers soundtrack? Thanks!

Reader
IronSalamander8 .

Not there yet! A little over halfway through Stormblood.

FF14 in general has some good music. I sometimes jump on my chocobo just to hear that rather majestic and inspiring music!

I’m on the steppes right now, dealing with the Au Ra and the music definitely sounds appropriate for its analog of Earth. I love some of the more classical and metal tracks in the game, but the Asian style music fits the area I’m in right now well.

Reader
Chosenxeno .

The Committee has no choice but to deem this list invalid since it makes no mention of the glory that is Titania’s theme.

JonBuck
Reader
JonBuck

LA HEE

Reader
JBNL

I’m surprised no mentions of Amh Araeng’s daytime/everlight music. Shame about the long pause between loops but damn it’s so soothing.

JonBuck
Reader
JonBuck

First zone I visited after the Crystarium. I had to just stop and listen. Has the same sort of calming effect the Kojin town’s does.

Reader
styopa

Seconded.
When I first heard it, I had to check to make sure I hadn’t (as often with MMOs) turned off the music and left my Conjure One Pandora list running.

Reader
Sorenthaz

Best part about the Twinning is it’s a mix of Crystal Tower, Omega, and apparently has some elements of Alexander music mixed in as well (+ the final boss just straight-up takes a boss song from Alexander). Fitting mix because of the lore around that location.

Reader
blah blazh

I’ve never been a fan of FF music but I do like that Dancer’s Theme.

Reader
Loopy

I found that the overall theme of the OST for this expansion is uneasiness. Like, the songs fit the FFXIV mold, but there is something off about them. Like they’re saying “this entire world is not.. right”. And i honestly think this was on purpose. Very interesting approach to music.

My personal favourite next to Rak’Tika:

Reader
Sorata

Titania theme is maybe the best music I encountert in a game ever.
I am not even play this game, but how on all earths could you not mention this one:

Reader
Vice Vandal

Yep, another glaring omission.

Reader
Vice Vandal

How is the Titan Eden theme not in there : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YurCzvTmxFQ ?

Easily one of the most creative themes of the expansion.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Patreon Donor
Loyal Patron
BalsBigBrother

Saw and heard this on a stream and have been listening to it a lot since then, its so good

Reader
Loopy

Wow, ok that took me by surprise. I’m not a fan of songs that kinda take me out of the overall theme of the game, but this one is so Prodigy-like i actually dug it a lot :)

Reader
Sorenthaz

This expansion in general seems to be full of crazy remixes/fusions of past songs.

Reader
Sorenthaz

Probably because the Eden raid isn’t even a week old yet and/or Justin was going off of 5.0 music.

The Leviathan one was also pretty good.

Reader
Chosenxeno .

Between his look and the music I almost abandon my party out of fear. What a badass lol