Jukebox Heroes: Expansion themes

Justin Olivetti
J. Olivetti|07.17.13

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Jukebox Heroes: Expansion themes
Jukebox Heroes Expansion themes
Main themes seem to be a strong favorite among video game music fans (and even the casual set), but I've talked about them a few times already. So instead of puttering around with main MMO themes, why not give expansions some of the credit?

Not every expansion gets its own theme tune, of course, but plenty do. We've covered a few of them in this column so far, including Riders of Rohan and EVE Online: Apocrypha. What we haven't done is spend an entire week looking at these upstart themes and see how they compare to the originals.

So strap on your headphones and prepare for symphonic excellence. Here are six great MMO expansion themes that deserve a few minutes of your time!

1. Star Trek Online: Legacy of Romulus

The original Star Trek Online theme is one of my most favorite -- and most-played -- tracks in my collection. So how does STO's first expansion compare when it comes to a main theme? There's no way it can be as good, right?

No, it can't, but it can be pretty awesome in its own right. The main musical cue for Legacy of Romulus is this proud, majestic melody that plays out with strong horns and marching drums. It almost sounds like a call to war by a primitive tribe. It's a little too slow to be "catchy," but it is quite memorable. The expansion OST suite goes on to include elements that are pretty similar to ones from the main game, tying it together quite nicely.

2. Final Fantasy XI: Chains of Promethia

Surprisingly (or perhaps not so much), expansions weren't really treated to new themes prior to 2004. Chains of Promethia said, "Nuts to that!" and came out with a full-fledged OST, topped with a tune called Unity, its main theme.

Like much of FFXI's soundtrack, Unity is absurdly cheerful while mixing in a hint of martial atmosphere. It's pretty, but wears out its welcome quickly. After about the first 20 seconds or so, you have my full permission to move on.

3. Guild Wars: Eye of the North

Is this my favorite Guild Wars theme? It's so hard to say because usually the answer to that is, "Whatever was the last Guild Wars theme I heard." It is absolutely tremendous, as Jeremy Soule pulls out all of the stops to create this epic opening to the one and only expansion the game ever saw. There are familiar elements from earlier tracks as well as a host of new beats and melodies. It's beautiful through and through, but what else were you expecting when it comes to this series?

Also, how awesome is that ending? BOOM.

4. Age of Conan: Rise of the Godslayer

One of these days when I get around to talking about Age of Conan's expansion, I'm going to say something along the lines of how much more I appreciated that OST than the original. Hey, it's all subjective, and this stuff just gelled more with me. The prologue theme to Rise of the Godslayer is this haunting track that incorporates an Asian sound that pierces through the melancholy. It's simply pretty instead of being this big tub-thumping war cry, which is not what I expected from a Conan game. Not that I'm complaining, mind you.

5. Allods Online: Lords of Destiny

Allods Online has always boasted exceptional music (and yes, I'm going to get to it soon!), and its latest expansion carries the musical torch wonderfully. Check out this main theme to Lords of Destiny: It's a high-octane rework of the original theme that sounds as though it's been cross-bred with the latest Batman movie scores. I like how it slows down in the middle only to launch back into the fray after we're able to catch a breath.

6. EverQuest II: Destiny of Velious

This may be a completely blasphemous thing to say, but doesn't this theme totally sound like something from World of Warcraft? Maybe it's that "sweeping fantasy music" thing that permeates the entire genre, but it's a little more serious than I usually associate with EverQuest II. It also sounds a bit John Williamsish, if that is a term I can use. It's a fine track, although not exactly toe-tapping in the conventional sense.

There are plenty of other expansion themes out there, of course! Which ones are your favorites? Share them in the comments!

MMOs aren't just about looks; they also have great soundtracks that often go unnoticed. Heroes don't stand for that! Every Tuesday, Jukebox Heroes will check out a game's soundtrack and feature the best tunes to share and discuss. Your DJ for the hour is Justin Olivetti, and the request line is open!
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