Jukebox Heroes: WildStar features the MMO soundtrack of the year

Justin Olivetti
J. Olivetti|12.24.14

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Jukebox Heroes: WildStar features the MMO soundtrack of the year
Originally I wanted to write a final Jukebox Heroes column for this year that would have ranked all of the soundtrack releases in 2014, but that ran into a couple of snags. Not only am I still in the process of listening and finding all of them, but one game's score was going to thrash the rest of them so badly that it didn't feel fair to stack them up together. That MMO was, of course, WildStar.

I started to suspect that Composer Jeff Kurtenacker's score for WildStar was going to be something else when the studio started releasing parts of it over a year ago, but even then I wasn't prepared for the sheer quality and quantity that the full soundtrack presented. Critics and fans of the game alike have been very vocal in praising this game's music since the beta and through launch, and I'm still grooving on it months later. My only complaint is that it still -- still -- has yet to see an official release, free or paid.

So even though our yearly awards didn't include a soundtrack category, I'm going to take the initiative and crown WildStar as the soundtrack of the year. Let's listen to six of the OST's highlights and discuss our favorites in the comments section.

1. Main Theme

I've heard this theme so many times by now, and it still gives me chillbumps. It's this peppy militaristic tune that contains so much of the rest of the soundtrack, from the sci-fi electronica to the mournful horns to the Western guitars. It does get a little noisy and busy in spots, but the track changes up so much that those don't last too long. It's simply a triumphant piece that has enough energy for 10 MMO themes.

2. Protostar Theme

WildStar's soundtrack isn't afraid to get playful and experimental, as evidenced in this track. Protostar's theme is a cross between The Sims music, 1950s commercial themes, and old-fashioned alien spaceship noises. It's so bizarrely peppy that you might have a hard time imagining it in an MMO unless you've played this game and understand the cheerful mercantile nature of Protostar. I've been using this as my housing music, and I love it.

3. Smooth

If you ever felt as though your MMOs didn't have enough of a 1980s Van Halen sound to them, then this track will make your day. It's WildStar done with '80s-style synth, and it's so over-the-top awesome that I can't stop cheering when it's playing. That's a problem, since I'm missing the track by doing so.

If I were to pick a personal soundtrack to play while I went about my day, this would be a top contender.

4. Drusera's Theme

Of course, not every track in this game is cartoonish adventure; some of them are as sweeping and epic as you might ask for. Drusera's Theme is one of these pieces, a moving, deep, cinematic aural story that shows off WildStar's serious side.

Kurtenacker said of Drusera's Theme, "When we recorded that cue, I was lucky it was right before a break. I was pretty wrecked emotionally after that. Lots of my own feelings towards my daughter in the writing of that cue, and to hear it come to life, it was surreal and beautiful. I was so moved I had the orchestra sign that score after the session. It's a treasure of mine."

5. Hymn of the Six

The church of the Dominion has an incredibly memorable -- and heavy -- theme track. It's mostly a dueling male and female choir that chants the faith's deities and some other Latiny gibberish. Like some of the other tracks on this list, it's... so unlike what you'd hear in most MMOs that it makes you turn your head in surprise when you first hear it. I will say that while it's a terrific piece, having it play on loop while I was adventuring in a low-level zone was more than a little distracting.

6. Two Pistols and an Open Frontier

I wanted to get a good action piece included with this list, so after much internal debate, I went with this track. You can hear how it's holding back at the start from launching into its full glory, but at the 48-second mark it just goes for it. The drums and strange cup-like percussion get a special mention for me, as they add an intensity to an already great theme.

Ugh, I wish I could link the other 18 or so of my favorite WildStar pieces, but I'll let this stand as a good sampler of the game's score at large. Here's hoping that we get an album release in 2015!

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!
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