Music that accompanies games nowadays have evolved tremendously from the simply bloops and beeps of yesteryear. Fully orchestrated soundtracks are now the norm, not the exception. The world of MMOs are no different, with some of the best soundtracks in modern gaming today coming from its annals.
From the rousing chords of World of Warcraft’s theme, to the subtle leitmotifs found throughout Final Fantasy XIV, reminding you of the franchise’s history, gaming soundtracks have a way of transporting us to our favorite worlds without us having to be online. Some soundtracks, such as EVE Online’s beautiful electronic-techno styled music perfectly suites the game’s setting as well. They work hand in hand with the gameplay to tell a story – one you can reminisce on even after the fact. The Elder Scrolls Online also does a fantastic job of taking music from prior entries in the single-player game and revamping them to the MMO. “Dawn Gleams on Cyrodiil” is one of the most played songs on that soundtrack for me thanks to the Oblivion leitmotifs that make up the core of the song.
For me, is should be no surprise to anyone, but Chance Thomas’ work on The Lord of the Rings Online’s soundtrack will always be at the top of my personal all-time favorite list in any game genre. Thomas had the daunting task to evoke the feel and spirit of Middle-earth, especially after Howard Shore’s epic and iconic movie soundtrack dominated the soundscapes of Middle-earth. Thomas’ use of theme-building as a building block of his music really helped to set the tone and establish a sense of “place” in his music.
The dour and sorrowful theme of Durin’s folk looms large when in places like Moria or Thorin’s Hall. Conversely, the cheerful, uplifting and light instrumentations of the Shirefolk really set the mood of a carefree people, unaware – and mostly uncaring of the world beyond their borders. The whimsical pennywhistle of Tom Bombadil’s echoes this as well – providing a jovial theme, though you’re surrounded by the foreboding Old Forest.
The Lord of the Rings Online’s soundtrack is obviously my favorite. However, I’m interested to hear about yours and why. Let us know in the comments below.