In many ways, an MMO is only as good as its music. Many of the best and most memorable moments in an MMO invariably have a song associated with them; a piece of music which brings the memories flooding back the moment it reaches one’s ears. Today, I’d like to pay homage to some of those songs – and some of those moments. Here, for your listening pleasure (and in no particular order, I assure you) is a list of some of the best songs ever heard in an MMO.
Got a favorite of yours that didn’t make the list? Let me know! I’m always willing to hear more music, after all.
Say whatever else you will about Age of Conan, you still must agree that it had an incredible soundtrack. This lovely number right here is the song that won the Hollywood Music In Media Awards for composer Knut Haugen. This piece perfectly conveys the feeling of Ardashir, the strangeness, beauty, and danger of the land in which the characters have arrived.
Although I never really got into Star Trek Online myself, my better half is in love with the game (she was, after all, raised on the series). For my part, I’ve no trouble doing my own thing while she plays. A big part of that is admittedly a result of the downright fantastic soundtrack. The main theme of the game pretty much completely captures the essence of both the game and the series as a whole. Even those of you who’ve never seen the show – and those of you who don’t much care for it – have to admit that this track’s rather stirring, no?
To be honest, there’s so many fantastic pieces in WoW’s extensive soundtrack, I had trouble choosing just one for this list. Eventually, though, I had to settle on the hauntingly beautiful Nightsong – the piece which plays in the Night Elf zone of Ashenvale. Blizzard remixed a great many classic World of Warcraft songs for Cataclysm. The team hit the mark dead center with this one. I’d choose Alliance over Horde any day just to listen.
Let me paint you a picture, folks. You are attempting to heal a land lost centuries ago to a terrible dragon god, a land of death, decay, and fear. It’s been a long journey to arrive here, and you and your band have all lost a number of dear friends along the way. Now, you stand on the precipice of the apocalypse. Should you fail, the undead forces of Orr will surge forth from the island and consume all life. You are the last one standing, the only line of defense between the undead and Trahearne – your friend and marshal of your forces; the man desperately trying to cleanse Orr’s corruption.
Just as all seems lost, the siege breaks, and this song begins to play. Yeah, Jeremy Soule’s kind of one of my favorite composers ever, by the way.
Although there are many rather excellent pieces in The Old Republic, the background music of Alderaan has earned its place on this list, if only because of the sheer variety displayed by the song. Once you’ve listened to it (and maybe explored the world a little bit), do me a favor and pop in Star Wars: A New Hope. See how you feel about The Empire Destroying Alderaan now.
Although Korean MMO Sword of The New World was a rather tepid, boring affair with tedious quests. borderline-hilarious translation issues and an overabundance of grinding, the soundtrack was pretty fantastic. Some might even go so far as to say the title’s soundtrack was its only redeeming feature. Whatever. Having never played the game (and with no intent of playing), I don’t really have any context for this piece, except that it’s rather nice to listen to.
Freeport still remains the favorite zone of many EverQuest players. There’s a very simple explanation for that, of course: it’s all about the music. Listening to the song that plays at the docks gives one a notion of freedom, of some grand, endless journey. Given the scale of EverQuest, that feeling’s really not too far off.
I had the same problem with LOTRO that I did with World of Warcraft: The soundtrack was so fantastic, I could hardly decide which piece to pick for this list. Eventually, though, I settled on what effectively serves as the theme song of those tricksy, cheerful hobbits. It’s kind of fitting that I chose this song, really – after all, Hobbits are the core from which the entire world of Middle Earth was formed.
Time for an extra-strength dose of nostalgia. Though far more simplistic than any of the other pieces on this list (hey, they were working with midis and systems which today’s smartphones far out-power), it’s easily just as beautiful. Plus, it’s basically the main theme of the MMO that gave birth to pretty much every other MMO in existence. Even if you’ve never picked up Ultima Online, have a listen – you’re hearing a piece of history.
I’ve never actually played Ragnarok Online II. I actually came across this piece whilst searching out music to play in one of my D&D campaigns, if you can believe it. The moment I started listening, however, I was hooked. It’s one of the catchiest bloody melodies I’ve heard in a long while. I challenge you to try hearing this song without at least feeling a slight urge to tap your feet along.
Now, I’ve blathered on long enough. I’m going to turn the spotlight over to you fine folks. What songs do you think deserve a spot on this list? What’s your all-time favorite composition? Let me know!