Massively OP’s 2019 MMO Video Game Music Awards

    
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Massively OP’s 2019 MMO Video Game Music Awards

Many of us here on the Massively OP staff have our own personal pet projects and interests that might not be as widespread as others, but we still pursue (and write about) them because of shared passion with others of a like mind. With me, it’s MMO video game music. It’s a niche of a niche interest, but I find such a delight in the musical landscapes that exist in our virtual worlds.

As is tradition for Jukebox Heroes, I have the privilege of finishing out the year with my own special little award ceremony. Unlike the other MOP awards we give out, these are a one-man deal with no nominations, no voting, and no contemplation. Instead, I’ve settled on seven awards to bestow from my own musical discoveries and journeys this year.

Check out the following winners of this year’s MMO Video Game Music Awards — and let me know what awards you would dole out in the comments!

This category was surprisingly competitive this year, but the winner was never in doubt. Shadowbringers was a strong return to form for Masayoshi Soken, who whipped up some of his best music yet. So many incredible tracks peppered this expansion — prompting a Battle Bards episode to celebrate it, I might add — but was anything as iconic as “la-HEE?”

You can get as cranky as you like about Battle for Azeroth, but don’t you dare disrespect the music that this expansion has pumped out. Blizzard’s composers have been faithful at producing lovely and thrilling tunes for each one of the patches, enough so that one fan used her precious question at BlizzCon to ask the team if there will ever be an official release of patch music. The answer? Yes!

For those EverQuest fans who grew up on the old MIDI soundtrack, the game’s musical evolution is both a cause for delight and nostalgia. Daybreak quietly released the original soundtrack for EQ this year with the improved, modern versions of many classic tunes, and I found the whole album to be a tremendous delight.

There really weren’t a lot of MMORPG releases this year, and some of the ones that did arrive didn’t leave much of a musical footprint behind. Discounting expansions for this category, that really only left me with a small handful. Fortunately, Astellia provided a very solid pick from those few choices, with a sweeping theme that takes us on a grand journey even before we pick our characters.

Apart from a few “superstar” celebrities, most video game music composers toil away in relative obscurity — and no more so than the MMO composers. This year I wanted to give a special award to a talented and hardworking composer who is still giving his all for two aging MMORPGs — in this case, Standing Stone Games’ Bill Champagne, who whipped up patch music for Lord of the Rings Online and expansion music for DDO: Masterminds of Sharn and LOTRO: Minas Morgul. And it’s pretty darn good stuff, too!

Back in February, I asked our Massively OP community to vote on the greatest MMO soundtrack of all time. The results were both surprising and predictable, with readers lauding their favorites. Far and away — perhaps by vote brigading — WildStar swept the hearts of gamers around these parts. I won’t argue; it’s one of the all-time best MMORPG soundtracks ever created.

Every year I like to save one award slot for what I consider to be my favorite MMO soundtrack discovery of the year. Usually it’s a game I’ve never listened through before, but when I did a gut-check and looked over past columns, I had to admit that the one soundtrack that got me the most excited was LOTRO’s rather fantastic Vales of Anduin score. This could have been done short and lazy, but instead we got a ton of really terrific tunes that show us that Middle-earth still has beauty to share that we haven’t experienced yet.

Want more music? Check out past years’ winners!

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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Kawaii Five-O

Clearly, Shadowbringers wins in the music department. It really shows with Soken closing out 2019 with this masterpiece. (Minor Starlight spoiler, I suppose!)

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Oleg Chebeneev

dafuq i just watched

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Oleg Chebeneev

Lost Ark and Star Citizen are the best MMOs of 2019 in music category

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Loopy

I could set my clock to your predictability.

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Chosenxeno .

If anything had won this other than Shadowbringers I would have… err.. done something. You know what? Get back to me… It would have been bad what ever it was!!

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Toy Clown

I agree with others about FFXIV’s music soundtrack for Shadow Bringers. Only two other MMOs had music that I felt moved by and that was SWG’s music, which was the music from the first trilogy, and GW2’s music, of where there are several beautiful scores.

As a side note, I didn’t realize that about EQ’s original score having been re-released. That’s nostalgic!

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Ryan Allgood

Shadowbringers OST is literally the only soundtrack I’ve ever bought in my entire life.

It’s just so good.

One thing that I really love about Soken is that he’s not afraid to experiment with genres and instruments.

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PanagiotisLial1

I think I got far different music tastes compared to Justin. At least 2 of the above made me mute my speakers in panic to save my ears. Some were decent but nothing impressed me. Music prefs tend to be mostly personal choices for each one of us.

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Danny Smith

Shadowbringers. No question. Nothing comes close.

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Sorenthaz

Agreed. Soken really has outdone himself with this expansion’s music. And he can take old tracks and transform them into new absolute headbangers like the one you obviously linked (which blends Shattered/Out of the Labyrinth with eScape and apparently uses the underlying bass from Rise?).

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TomTurtle

LA HEE. I don’t even play FFXIV, and I’ve been memed at with that one. It’s a good track.

And yeah, the Kul Tiran allied race music is so good. It stood out to me when I played the allied race unlock questline. I agree BfA had some wonderful music in general.

That EQ track brought so much nostalgia for old school high fantasy PC games. Love it!

LOTRO’s “At Woods Edge” reminded me a bit of FF10 because of the instruments it uses. I love more calm music like that.

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Bruno Brito

Wildstar OST is just pure perfection.

If only the game followed suit.

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Bryan Correll

Unlike the other MOP awards we give out, these are a one-man deal with no nominations, no voting, and no contemplation.

Down with the dictatorship!

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cursedseishi

Yes, down with the emperor’s groove! We shall need an anthem for the revolution though…

Let us ask the Emperor for a new Groove!