One of the reasons why I personally cherish video game and MMO music as much as I do is their longevity; games come and go but their soundtracks persist and never go out of fashion. Over the years I have seen many an MMO fade but I keep listening to old tracks and reminiscing about the times I spent in those virtual worlds. One of the greatest, and certainly biggest, soundtracks of the past few years came with Wildstar, a title that is, as we all know, sadly struggling. Yet despite the game’s uncertain future, its soundtrack is here to stay and to be celebrated. At the very least, Nexus will always be a place that we can return to in audible form.
The complete Wildstar soundtrack counts over 200 tracks composed by Jeff Kurtenacker, also known for his work on Pirates of the Burning Sea. Jeff graciously answered our questions in a Battle Bards composer interview way back in June 2013 when Wildstar was still in development. Hired as a sound designer at Carbine originally, he ended up taking on the lead composer position for the game – a most fortunate turn of events both for him and of course Wildstar’s playerbase who hold the music in very high regard. Indeed, not many MMO soundtracks have quite as large a following.
Wildstar features one of those rare soundtracks that come with their own unique flavor and signature sound. No matter how many other MMOs you’ve played and listened to, you can usually tell it’s a Wildstar track due to the strong recognition value. Often compared to the legendary Firefly TV show for its game design, the soundtrack also echoes this theme in terms of fusing different musical genres such as electronic sci-fi, western and more traditional fantasy. Some of Wildstar’s biggest fan favorites are therefore tracks that combine the best of all these worlds, including its cheerful and loony tunes, of which there are many. And who would expect anything less from a universe populated by races such as the crazy Lopp and Chua?
Five Picks for an Introduction to the Music of Wildstar
With an MMO soundtrack of this size, it can be tricky introducing someone to the musical genius of Wildstar with only a handful of picks. Due to the diversity of settings in the game, listeners may discover any theme and flavor of music as long as they are happy to go on a journey that feels both familiar and alien at times. Wildstar brings a twist to both the sci-fi and fantasy MMO genre, boldly leaving conservative boundaries behind while featuring excellent and memorable tracks that can be as serious and heartbreaking as they are lighthearted and goofy. But judge for yourself!
1. The Weave
Probably my favorite track of them all, The Weave encompasses many of Wildstar’s greatest themes in one piece: the grandeur of the game’s greatest vistas, the sparkle and magic of alien planets as well as the mischief going on behind the scenes. A very ethereal track overall, The Weave is a beautiful start to a greater Wildstar soundtrack journey.
2. Bandits, Thieves and Epic Loot
One of the many tunes in Wildstar that coincides with its western and desert themes, Bandits, Thieves and Epic Loot is just one heck of a fun ride to embark on, featuring traditional instruments such as banjos and cellos up in space. As a big fan of the Malgrave Trail dungeon in Wildstar, I highly recommend listening to the Malgrave track and Thermock Hold too if you enjoy this type of MMO music!
3. Vigilant Church Theme
Certainly one of the more divisive tracks, I will never forget the Vigilant Church theme playing in the Dominion’s starter hub as I was leveling my fledgling Cassian. With its eerie and haunting choirs, it is one of those memorable Wildstar moments that give players that first, clear idea of what the “evil faction” is about. The Dominion means serious business and many of their themes only get darker from here.
4. Cutely Grotesque and Certifiably Insane
Enter the Chua! Quite possibly the most popular race to join the Dominion’s forces, the Chua answer to no one other than science, a passion most vigorously and cruelly pursued by the worst of their kind, yet tragically mishandled by many an amateur scientist. Whether you opted to play this faction or not, it is hard not to cheer for the manic furry race in Wildstar or tap along to their enthusiastic tune!
5. Our Perception of Beauty / Drusera’s Theme
Being the character most vital to Wildstar’s endgame and overall narrative, Drusera’s beautiful lullaby has haunted many a player questing in Blighthaven. Drusera’s story is one of a kind among MMORPGs and it is impossible not to be moved by the different tunes on the soundtrack that feature her sad humming. Having been gone from Wildstar for some time now, my one regret is that I will never see for myself what happened to her. I hope she ends up happy and safe in the golden fields of her dreams.
Would I buy? – Yes!
Who is it for? – Everyone with an open mind for genre fusion!
I hope you enjoyed this introduction to the music of Wildstar. Unfortunately to this day, we have yet to see an official soundtrack release from NCsoft. Given the current state of the game, it saddens me a great deal that this may never come to pass. Time and again, developers or publishers fail to recognize the value of the music within their games and the strong interest within their fanbase to acquire an album. This will always be a matter of both vexation and puzzlement to me.
As it stands, the best ways for you to listen to the wonderful universe of Wildstar are through Jeff Kurtenacker’s soundcloud page as well as various YouTube playlists. I wholeheartedly recommend that you go and explore the sounds of Nexus for yourself, for there is much more to be found than any one review could give it credit for!Related: A Bard's Tale, Carbine Studios, Column, F2P, MMORPG, Music, Wildstar