This is a softball topic of a blog, but that’s because I feel like I’ve been hit in the head with a softball. In other words, my skull is just absolutely throbbing. But more than that, I just wanted to write a positive and happy MMO thing today and few things make me happier than a good MMO tune.
MMO soundtracks are generally throwaway things, but there are occasions where a song in a game will strike me just right. So I decided, since it’s Valentine’s Day, to show a little love to my favorite MMO menu themes.
Paladins – Menu Theme
Not-Overwatch has a not-bad piece of music for its starting theme. It’s kind of unremarkable in terms of its composition, but it still is a striking piece of work, touching on the same sort of feelings that would get you excited for a gladiatorial match.
What’s also neat is how it sort of changes tone after getting you hyped up, recognizing that maybe you’re doing something else (or maybe a queue is taking long) by shifting over to this softer yet still noble pad. It’s both a perfect backdrop to menu surfing while also sounding rather reflective.
Master X Master – Lobby Theme
Master X Master is a game that I am really eager to play once again. It’s got a great combat model and some fun PvE and PvP modes. It’s a game that tries to do a lot of things and mirror a few other games yet stands out on its own, which I feel is best reflected in this song.
The music plays as you’re about to start a match and has this wholly distinct sort of character to it. It’s hard to really pin down what makes this song work for me; it’s driving and preparatory while also being kind of funky at the same time. A lot of the music in this game is very distinct and I suggest giving it a listen.
Blade and Soul – Title Theme
A lot of the music in Blade and Soul is pretty throwaway, or at least it is as far as I’ve experienced, but this opening number is a great tone setter. It has the sort of instrumentation I’d expect from a wuxia film – the pan flute, the war drums, the brass – but it also is still a striking song.
I think a lot of the reason I enjoy this song is because it’s kind of self-aware. It has this sense that it knows it’s an homage and is perfectly fine with that. It also has a really complete orchestration to it, with a clear beginning and end instead of just a cue that can be looped. Not that I mind looped cues, mind you.
Atlas Reactor – Lobby Theme
This song doesn’t really have a reason to exist other than to make you tap a foot or nod your head while you’re waiting in a match queue, and it suits that purpose wonderfully. I’m not usually big on the dubstep-y sort of things, but this song makes use of dubstep tropes without sounding obnoxious.
The world of Atlas Reactor is pretty high-tech but it also imparts a sense of fun, so that’s what I think this theme is best trying to reflect. It really is just a solid, thumping piece of music and proves that sometimes songs that come out of a production program can be nearly as effective as ones that come from a symphony pit.
Splatoon – Booyah Base
The universe of Splatoon is one that is covered in bubblegum and frozen in 90’s style in the very best way, and Booyah Base is a phenomenal illustration of that. This music plays while you’re in the shops of the game choosing clothes and weapons, and I was transfixed by how fun it is when I first heard it.
As a matter of fact, everything about Splatoon’s music further helps the idea that this is a fun, light-hearted party of a game. It’s unapologetically happy, imparting an impression of neon color and hip-hop funk that is infectious. I cannot hear this song and not bob my head. In fact, I’m doing that while writing this and listening.
WildStar – Into the Unknown
How do I pick a single song out of an entire OST filled with pure magic? Memories. While the main theme for WildStar is an aural whirlpool of Star Trek, Doctor Who and Star Wars reference, this song strikes because of its uniqueness. It’s a character creation theme unlike any I’ve personally heard.
Again, this song has this full orchestration to it, standing alone as its own individual song from start to finish. If the main theme of WildStar set the stage, this theme painted the set in powerful color. It’s my main character’s home background music for a good reason. In fact, this would be the end of this post…
City of Heroes – Freedom
…if it weren’t for all of the emotions, memories, and connections I have to this piece. Freedom is the pinnacle of the City of Heroes soundtrack, in my opinion, expressing how far Paragon Studios had come in developing the game.
From Villains to Going Rogue, City of Heroes really became its own amazing MMO and completely cemented my adoration of the genre. It’s a game that made a lasting impact to the point that something like three or four games are trying to fill the void it left. People still act surprised to know that it was missed so much, but not because they missed out so much as the placated were silent. And we were placated because we lived in a world where music like this happened.