“Ah, music, a magic beyond all we do here” – More Favourite Gaming Soundtracks
A little over half a year ago I wrote a blog entry about some of my favourite video game soundtracks and why I love those particular pieces. I had to cut myself off to not turn it into an endless post with 50+ recommendations, but now, a few months later I thought it might be time for part two. So here are some more of my favourites when it comes to the music that makes gaming a wonderful experience.
Fear not this Night – Guild Wars 2
The musical main theme for the Silvari and the song that plays at the end of the first bog main story. This song stuck with me from it’s release on (I think that was even before the game’s release?) and never left me. It has all the markings of a great fantasy song, a melody that stick with you and a great singer. Listening to this makes me sad sometimes, that it is apparently quite hard for many people to get through the outer layers of the game and get swept away by the emotions in the story line. Guild Wars 2 has an excellent story that gets quite personal, a fully voiced cast and the choice between no less than 10(!) fully voiced player character voices that do great work. It is probably the only MMO besides SWTOR that has such a personal story. And like SWTOR they changed around a lot since the original launch including making the base game free to play (with the best f2p model currently out there) and changing the initial pace of the game – so if you’ve tried it at launch and didn’t get into it, it might be worth revisiting.
A new beginning – Final Fantasy XIV – A Realm Reborn
When Final Fantasy XIV first launched in 2010 it had… issues. While the music and the story were never in doubt the gameplay and a few features got quite the backlash. So much, that publisher Square Enix pulled the plug on the game 2 years later and reworking it completely. “A Realm Reborn” was released in 2013 and got a new engine, a rework of the interface and mechanics and… a new story. Set 5 years after the story of the original release that ended in, well, a catastrophe. When you have to burn your old game to the ground you might as well go out with a bang seemed to be the motto. The ending and subsequently new beginning after a time jump was set to music and put the old game to rest, making room for the new one. Today FF XIV – A Realm Reborn is lauded as one of the best MMOs currently out there and while it is less personal as GW2 or SWTOR the overall storytelling and especially the depth of the world narrative is astoundingly good. The theme for their first expansion was a class on it’s own as well.
Priscilla’s Song – The Witcher
This is an odd one for me because I’ve never played the Witcher. At least not this part. I tried the first one for a while but the lack of a playable female character and the quite appalling sexism that seemed to be literally everywhere made me put the game aside quickly. Don’t bother trying to hype me into it again – I have zero interest in this trilogy but: I do appreciate good music when I hear it. And the whole Witcher series has quite a bit of good music. This song is probably my favourite from the OSTs and from all the language versions the Russion one convinced me most vocally.
Horse Lords of the Norcrofts – Lord of the rings online
It might be fairly obvious that I play a lot of MMOs. (Really? No… shut up!) But LOTRO was my first. (Ok, no, Ultima Online was my first but since I only played that to keep a friend company I don’t count that). My gateway to more modern MMOs wasn’t WoW, that went completely past me – but LOTRO came out at a perfect time for me. I had just become a mom and suddenly was at home a lot and the Lord of the Rings has always been one of my favourite Worlds to play in in whatever capacity. This year LOTRO turned 10 years old and though I haven’t played it for the entire time I seem to come back to it again and again. The entire score for the game is great and consists of many hours of great music but the Riders of Rohan Add On in 2012 raised the bar a bit more even. The composer managed to write music that fits middle earth perfectly, without ever feeling like he borrowed from the movie universe at all. It has pieces that exist almost purely as rhythm and opposed to that epic themes for well known locations.
Sleepless Lullaby – The Secret World
Another MMO. While the Secret World originally didn’t impress me with many memorable themes it did always stick out in the atmosphere department. The sound design goes from fairly scary, creepy to outright disgusting or haunting, always supported by a very fitting score. Every once in a while something sticks out, like this song from the “A Dream To Kill” story line. Imagine you are in a Nursery and there is this lullaby that keeps creeping you out at some point – and the radio to turn it off is right there but you can’t ever turn it off if you want to stay alive…
Special Mention: The Music of Overwatch as done in Heroes of the Storm
HOTS is a brawler that combines all of Blizzards franchises and has started adding Overwatch characters almost directly at launch. Every Overwatch character so far has gotten their own little theme and they have put in a lot of thought to make them both fitting and uniquely memorable. Tracer got a reworked version of the main OW theme, a fitting choice for the official commercial character of the game. Genji got a remix of the rather popular music theme from the OW Dragons shortfilm that gives us some of his backstory. Lucio got a nice piece of music based on his already in the game crossfade music sounds. D.Va meanwhile got a mix of Arirang (a popular Korean folksong) plus some modern clubmix that incorporates some original soundbites from Space Invaders. And Zarya got a pretty epic piece with a bg choir that has some elements from the Volskaya map in it. Finally, if you win the Overwatch themed map you are treated to HOTS’s version of the OW victory theme.