Over the years, World of Warcraft has provided its players with some phenomenal story moments as well as some fantastic music to go along with the narrative. Much like our favorite movies, video game soundtracks amp up a story’s pace and heighten the emotional appeal of both the moments of triumph and the moments of sadness. MMORPG soundtracks are no exception, and as far as MMORPG soundtracks are concerned, WoW’s is definitely one of the best.
Some of WoW’s best musical tracks are heard during major story moments. Other times, they’re part of the overall ambience of raid fights or dungeon runs. A large portion of WoW’s best songs are heard while exploring its vast areas. The right musical accompaniment can turn a simple quest series into a sprawling adventure.
When crafted well, the music in World of Warcraft—throughout all of the expansions—makes the game more immersive, far more enjoyable, and helps make the tamest of leveling sessions just a tad bit more legendary. So, what are the best musical moments from the 11+ years that the game has been around? Here’s my take on World of Warcraft’s top 15 music tracks:
15. Valley of the Four Winds – Mists of Pandaria
If you played WoW much during Mists of Pandaria, you’ll recognize this theme immediately as the “farm theme.” Yes, this was the map where our good ol’ farms were located, along with the dailies for Tillers reputation. Our farms were essentially the preface to garrisons, but in a much smaller, manageable package.
There’s just something super nostalgic about this piece for me, and it could be the fact that I actually really loved the goofy quests and huge veggies in Valley of the Four Winds. It’s calm, relaxing, and just kind of ethereal.
14. Lament of the Highbourne – The Burning Crusade
This is one of the few WoW tracks that has lyrics, and is otherwise known as the Forsaken/Sylvanas theme. You hear it in-game after turning in a Ghostlands quest to Lady Sylvanas in Undercity. It’s hauntingly wonderful. Every time I hear it, it makes me wish Blizzard spent more time writing new Forsaken game content, areas, and music. They’re a fascinating race that don’t get nearly enough attention.
13. Ashenvale – Classic WoW
I started playing WoW in the latter half of Classic. My first character was a Dwarf hunter I dragged out to Night Elf lands around level 15—with a few deaths along the way, of course. My second was a Night Elf rogue. My third was a Night Elf druid (this same druid is my main today!). Needless to say, I spent a lot of time in Night Elf lands back then, so the music hits home pretty hard for me as far as nostalgia is concerned.
Ashenvale’s music, in particular, contained all the best Night Elf tracks, and was mystical, calming, adventurous, and perfectly complemented the nature-loving, hippie race. You’ll notice a trend as you keep reading my selections. I love the nature-y stuff. I make no apologies. Except to my poor Night Elf rogue I deleted years ago. It’s okay. She’s now a Worgen.
12. Thunderbluff – Classic WoW
Among all the Horde races, the Tauren are one of my favorites. They’re nature-loving and hippie-like, but also strong and stoic. Thunderbluff’s music encompasses those traits, plus adds in hints of tribalism and mysticism. Thunderbluff, despite being pretty empty these days and often a pain to navigate, is still one of the coolest main cities in WoW. Long live the moo cows.
11. Dalaran – Legion
Yep, you’ll notice I went with the Legion version (here’s the original version, by the way, which is also gorgeous) of Dalaran’s theme. To be fair, I love both the original Wrath of the Lich King version and the new version, but there’s something about the Legion version that draws me to it. It’s a little sadder, perhaps, and not quite as majestic. It hints that its residents have a lot of work ahead of them, but reminds everyone on that floating rock that the Kirin Tor will prevail. It’s all about hope.
10. Dun Morogh – Classic WoW
Remember I mentioned my first WoW character was a Dwarf? I spent so much time in Dun Morogh, just listening to the music, getting lost, and wondering how to shoot stuff with my bow. Let’s just say I melee’d all the way up to level 10 because I didn’t realize you had to be at a certain range to shoot mobs with a bow equipped. I was that hunter, the one everyone warned you about. It was fun.
While I ran out of slots at the last second on this list, I also wanted to throw in an honorable mention to the Stormwind piece here. Almost every Alliance player will hear this shortly after making a new character, and it’s a beautiful piece and representation of the Alliance races as a whole. I love it, but I also love the toned-down nature of the Dun Morogh piece. So much snow. So many Raptor Strikes.
9. Azuremyst Isle – The Burning Crusade
This is the music heard in the Draenei starting area, and it’s oddly one of my favorite tunes from that entire expansion. It’s mysterious and just a teeny bit alien—kind of like the Draenei race itself, only without the tentacles.
The landscape’s giant mushrooms, odd colors, cool-looking plantlife, and gauzy moths completed that area for me. I must have rolled at least half a dozen Draenei during TBC. One of them is still one of my mains, although he’s masquerading as a Blood Elf paladin for the moment. Less blue, but fruitier. It kind of works.
8. Stormpeaks – Wrath of the Lich King
Stormpeaks was epic. It was fun to quest through, and brilliant to just explore. The Titan-related quests were amazing, and became the prelude to one of WoW’s most beloved raids ever—Ulduar. There’s one moment in this track in particular that gets me every time. Listen in at about 2:45. Gorgeous, right? It’s calming, yet hints of danger and mystique beyond—kind of like many areas of Stormpeaks itself.
This spot is kind of in a tie with the music in Sholazar Basin. Sholazar’s music isn’t as epic as the music in Stormpeaks, but it’s unique, and fits in perfectly with the zone’s untamed jungle atmosphere. Many a hunter spent some serious time in this zone—alongside the miners and herb gatherers, of course.
7. Stormheim – Legion
Full disclosure—I’m writing this list as I’m taking a break from questing in Stormheim. By far, Stormheim is one of my favorite areas in Legion, and the music is gorgeous. Reminiscent of WotLK’s Howling Fjord piece yet unique enough to stand on its own, it’s simply majestic.
If you listen to any music from Legion, crank up the volume for this one. You don’t want to miss it. It helps that the quests in Stormheim are fun, too. I love the grappling hook concept. Howling Fjord now needs one.
6. Wandering Isle – Mists of Pandaria
This is from the Pandaren starting area in MoP. I have a soft spot for the Pandaren race (mostly due to their animations—I think they’re wonderfully designed in general), but also their music. The race itself is very Eastern-inspired, of course, and that fact is 1000% obvious in the race’s music, but beyond that, Pandaren music is playful yet majestic, mysterious yet comfortable. It’s an odd mixture, but it works for the goofy fuzz balls.
5. Grizzly Hills – Legion
You knew this one was coming, didn’t you? Everyone knows this song will be on any “best WoW music” list. The original piece, from Wrath of the Lich King, is simply beloved. It made us all want to plop down our flying mounts and start building a real-life house in Grizzly Hills, hidden beneath the trees and bird-filled canopy.
The Legion version is slower, and perhaps a little more mournful, but I prefer it over the original. Nevertheless, they’re both gorgeous tracks and no list would be complete without them.
4. Anduin – Legion
This is the track that first plays after you finish the Alliance version of Legion’s pre-expansion scenario where a certain important someone dies. The first time I heard it, I immediately stopped what I was doing, turned up my computer’s volume, and just kind of listened in awe. It’s a gorgeous tribute. I adore how naturally the Stormwind theme blends into the piece.
3. Howling Fjord – Wrath of the Lich King
Ah, this song… Enjoying that first Alliance boat ride into Northrend will always be one of my favorite WoW moments, partially due to the scenery that makes up Howling Fjord, but mostly because of this wonderful piece of music. The music throughout the rest of the zone is great, too.
Howling Fjord, overall, was a special zone. Sprawling peaks, hidden crevices, glaciers, a sky ride, a Viking-sorta theme that worked incredibly well for the zone, and a daily quest to help seals fall in love. It was Northrend before Arthas had his way, and it was something that always felt rather pristine due to the fact.
2. Nightsong – Cataclysm
This was a rather short Night Elf piece Cataclysm added to Ashenvale. It’s incredibly gorgeous, uplifting, heroic, and encompasses the Horde vs. Alliance struggles that Cataclysm brought front and center in zones like Ashenvale and Stonetalon Mountains.
Catacylsm, overall, was definitely one of WoW’s worst expansions in my humble opinion, but it did have some great music and locations. This piece is the finest example.
1. Terokkar Forest – The Burning Crusade
Much in the way Howling Fjord’s music made WotLK for me, this song defined my TBC experience. There’s something about it that stirs the soul. Start at around 3:00 for the best part. It’s simply an emotional and haunting piece of music. I spent hours in this zone, fishing, gathering herbs, or killing beasts for raid food. Sometimes I just turned on the music to relax, write, and plan my next great gaming adventure.
Did I miss any of your favorites? Let me know in the comments section below!
Laura Hardgrave is a staff writer.