Massively Overthinking: The best MMO music of 2022

    
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Years ago, MOP’s Justin listened to hundreds – no, probably more like thousands – of MMO music tracks to narrow this topic down to a handful of winners. This was frankly too much work for one man, so last year we opted to make it a team effort right here in Massively Overthinking. I’ve asked our writers to identify their favorite musical score, track, or composer in 2022, ideally something or someone notable in 2022 specifically, with some bonus YouTube videos to drive the point home. What was the best MMO music of 2022?

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): Nothing really got my toes tapping from proper MMO music this year, though as an honorable mention, Splatoon 3’s Anarchy Rainbow during Splatfest is a real toe-tapper, though the Splat series has a lot of those. Also, Pokemon Go’s Ultra Beast Raid music for the first 30 seconds or so is really ominous and puts you in the mood to fight poké-aliens.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): If I have to pick one piece, it’d be from Guild Wars 2’s Grammy-nominated End of Dragons soundtrack: What Began Will Return. I get big Last of the Mohicans vibes from it; it sounds cinematic, and it is. Play it at my funeral please. But honestly it’s a tiny piece and you could pick randomly from the soundtrack and you’d be justified in calling it MMO track of the year. It’s really that fantastic.

Carlo Lacsina (@UltraMudkipEX, YouTube, Twitch): This one’s easy! Literally the only MMO track I listened to this year had to be the Final Fantasy XIV Endwalker song Footfalls. It’s a very inspiring song, and it really hits differently if you’ve been playing through FFXIV the last 10 years.

But even if it’s so great, I can’t ever seem to forget the Guild Wars Nightfall theme (yes I know it’s not from 2022). Still listen to this on the regular. That climbing major scale with a horn delivers that epic ending feel. There’s a sense of finality in Nightfall as the story of the Flameseeker prophecies come to an end. Sure, Eye of the North is the last Guild Wars 1 game, but it’s there to set up Guild Wars 2 more than end the story. So it’s appropriate to have that sense of finality in Nightfall’s soundtrack.

Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): Til Depth Do Us Part from Splatoon 3. Splatoon’s music is almost always top shelf, but this song that plays during the major Splatfest events that the game runs is some of the best that the series has ever cranked out. The melody bridge to melody portion is one of the greatest tonal progressions I’ve heard in video gaming music.

Runners-up (yes I know she asked for one song but I have to give the nod to more) would be the Jungle reorchestration done for Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak and the mid-boss theme On Blade’s Edge from Final Fantasy XIV’s Endwalker.

Colin Henry (@ChaosConstant): Hands down, it has to be Guild Wars 2’s End of Dragons soundtrack. I’m a big fan of anything that mixes familiar and non-traditional instrumentation, such as standard orchestra with synths or sound samples or instruments most people have never heard of, and this soundtrack has that in spades. From the moment you log in you know this is going to be a great musical journey. There are fun, chill tracks like Tengu Village, tense soundscapes like Alone in this Metropolis, and great fight music like Unwelcome Visitors. More than anything, I was blown away by the epic Soo-Won meta boss music, The Cycle Ends, and the credits track, A World Without You, is equally masterful.

Not actually on the EoD soundtrack per se, but another reason why the music in this expansion was great: Be sure to pay attention to the music as you fight the final boss of the story or the Harvest Temple strike mission. (Spoilers: As you fight the Dragonvoid manifestation of each Elder Dragon, the music changes to that Elder Dragon’s fight theme. It’s easy to miss, but it’s such a delightful touch, and gives the fight a really dynamic feel.
Well done Maclaine Diemer and team!)

The music in Guild Wars 2 has always been good, but this soundtrack has shown some real growth and creativity. Be sure to check out the interview we did with Diemer earlier this year!

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): I mean, this year was replete with absolute bangers over on Final Fantasy XIV, but at this point that’s not even unusual, is it? But you can’t forget tracks like the outstanding Scream (which isn’t even the final boss theme for this portion of Abyssos), In The Balance (which is the final boss theme for Aglaia), and the ethereal and calming Pilgrimage that plays all during that raid. And that’s not even all of the music from this year. Seriously, Soken is on another level.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): While I haven’t had the time to properly evaluate the mountain of new music that came this year, there have certainly been standouts. Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons’ expansion was masterfully composed by Maclaine Diemer and company, Lord of the Rings Online: Before the Shadow may be composer Bill Champagne’s best work yet, and Embers Adrift actually impressed me with James Stratton-Crawley’s score. I also really dig World of Warcraft: Dragonflight’s main theme.

Sam Kash (@thesamkash): I’m going to be worthless on this one but that won’t stop me from contributing! I don’t really pay attention to game music. Usually I’ll play some music over my speakers while I play games. But when End of Dragons launched I looked up the soundtrack to see if it would be worth a direct purchase. So that’s my answer!

Tyler Edwards (blog): If you spend any amount of time in New World’s community, you’ll hear a near-constant refrain of, “Whatever they pay the composer for this game, it isn’t enough.” And it’s true. This game has the best video game soundtrack I’ve heard in a long time. The Summer Medleyfaire event particularly stands out as having some really excellent tunes:

Every week, join the Massively OP staff for Massively Overthinking column, a multi-writer roundtable in which we discuss the MMO industry topics du jour – and then invite you to join the fray in the comments. Overthinking it is literally the whole point. Your turn!
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