Jukebox Heroes: Top 40 MMO themes, #20-11

We're growing ever closer to my top picks for MMO theme songs, but we're not quite at the end yet. This week we are on to the third part of our Top 40 MMO main themes countdown. To repeat my self-imposed rules for this list: I limited myself to just one theme from a particular title, even if there were multiple themes in a game. Entries had to be a main theme or the closest equivalent of that; they had to be from MMOs, not from MOBAs; and I had to divorce my weighting of the track itself from the popularity of and my experience with that game. So there were no points added or subtracted based on my love of the game. I'm counting down the best music, period.

If you missed earlier parts of this series, check out themes #40-31 and #30-21. Otherwise, hit that continue button and get listening already!

20. PlanetSide 2

There are two parts of this excellent theme. The first is a high-octane military fanfare that eventually transitions into the second, which is a snazzy electric guitar riff. The military part, at least, reminds me a lot of Starship Troopers' theme. Considering the similarities between the franchises, I'm wondering how intentional this was.

19. Darkfall

To my knowledge, this is the older theme, not the new one that came with Unholy Wars. Newer isn't always better; I think this version kicks butt. It starts out weird and slow, but soon it powers up into this adrenaline-pumping tune. I just wish I could find a version with better sound quality, so sorry about that!

18. Blade & Soul

There's a majestic dignity to this track that makes it feel so different than what I usually find in a main theme. It's very mixed emotionally, tilting both to the positive and negative depending on how you hear it, although it's definitely more upbeat following 2:40. I guess I respond to the cinematic tone of it more than anything else, which is why I'm including it here.

17. Final Fantasy XI

This theme definitely has a "home game" advantage, as its opening notes are like nostalgic catnip for many Final Fantasy players. However, I genuinely like this track past that, particularly the transition into a little pomp and march followed by a somber choral piece that gives it genuine weight. Sorry, Final Fantasy XIV fans -- I'm going with this earlier game as my favorite among the two.

16. Guild Wars

Ugh, how to pick just one of the Guild Wars themes? I was really torn on the four main themes but ultimately had to go with Eye of the North for its epic construction. It's exciting, moving, and rarely boring as it barrels through multiple transitions. By the time it hits that final note, I have goosebumps.

15. Dragon's Prophet

Wow, this is like the soundtrack to a trailer of a movie of my life! Well, my life is probably not that interesting overall, but I would imagine that this theme would make anything look incredible (even an MMO? Impossible!). It builds at the right time, retreats for a softer moment, and then comes back as strong as the tide. Maybe it has a hint of generic fantasy to it, but it's very well-done generic fantasy in that case. It's just a shame more people haven't heard it, in my opinion.

14. Age of Conan

How about a live performance of "The Dreaming -- Ere the World Crumbles" to spice up your day? It's another atypical theme, but that's probably why this game's soundtrack caught so many ears and garnered so much acclaim. Helene Bøksle's voice is simply amazing and puts to shame most female vocals that I've heard in MMO soundtracks.

13. Star Wars Galaxies

I feel that I'm going to have to defend putting this track at #13 instead of higher. First of all, I obviously consider it a great theme; it's one of my favorite Star Wars pieces and definitely deserves a high spot on this list. But just because it's John Williams doesn't mean it gets number one. Many of these other tracks are more listenable for me in various ways, and so here I put it. Slice me open and use my carcass to stay warm for the night if you must. Actually, don't. That would hurt.

12. Defiance

Both the TV and the MMO share the same theme, and boy howdy is it a great one. It starts slow and simmering... and then explodes with passion and intensity. The blend of synth and strings works so well, too. Plus, it's got guys beating on paint buckets with sticks! What more could you want?

11. Allods Online

There are actually several terrific themes from this game from which to choose, but I'm going to go with the relatively newer theme from Game of Gods for the #11 spot. It really impressed me as it took the old theme from the game and jacked it up. I love how it still has time for those memorable quiet harp moments, however.

So we're just about ready to go into the top 10 MMO themes of all time. Are you worried that I won't mention your favorite? What do you think about these picks? Sound off in the comments!

MMOs aren't just about looks; they also have great soundtracks that often go unnoticed. Heroes don't stand for that! Massively's Jukebox Heroes examines game soundtracks and features the best tunes to share and discuss. Your DJ for the hour is Justin Olivetti, and the request line is open!
This article was originally published on Massively.