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Music Soundscapes in Multiplayer Online Battle Arena Games (MOBA)

I have experience working as a mobile video game teardown analyst.


Music in MOBAs

There are many great MOBA games. MOBA stands for multiplayer online battle arena. These are generally games that pit one group of players against another group of players. They are incredibly complex games where players build their characters up through play and progressions, earning experience points and rewards. Characters develop different statistics, advance in levels, acquire a vast array of weapons, and dress in different, snazzy outfits. They are a lot of fun to play.

Some of the best MOBA games out there are "BrawlStars," "Arena of Valor," and "Mobile Legends Bang Bang," among many others. Game analysts, designers, and others, generally focus on the game's mechanics, character build-outs, and overall design when reviewing the game.

However, what is often overlooked in these games is the music. Music plays a very important role in the tone of each one of these games. That music, like the score of a movie, is incredibly complex. This isn't somebody banging on a toy piano. These games provide incredible soundscapes, often performed by full orchestras. Yet, there is little out there on just what role the music plays in the game. So, here's a look at different MOBA games and what the music brings to the experience of playing the game.


Brawl Stars

MOBA games can be quite dramatic! After all, you're in a five player versus five player battle to the death most often. How could it not be dramatic?

But Brawl Stars, despite its MOBA pedigree, isn't like that. Sure, you're killing other players, but the tone of Brawl Stars is playful and cartoon-y. The screenshot shown above tells you that.

Likewise, the music is light and reminiscent of a cartoon show. There's a lot of musical reminders of childhood things, like the toy piano. And when the brawling starts, there's actually a riff that sounds like it was taken directly from Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. What Brawl Stars is saying through its music is that it's a game, not a life or death struggle. It's meant to be fun. Enjoy. Be light-hearted.

Other interesting musical elements include snippets of western-inspired music and Asian-inspired music, reminiscent of old Kung Fu movies. It's a beautifully designed game and a worthy member of SuperCell's catalog.


Mobile Legends Bang Bang

Mobile Legends Bang Bang is a really good game. Its primary mode is a five versus five battle of different classes of characters. It's the type of game that's evolved from Dungeons and Dragons. Players develop their characters, team up with others, and fight another group of five players.

Like most of the other games in the MOBA genre, the music is critical to setting the tone of the game. Interestingly, Mobile Legends Bang Bang has one of the most diverse soundtracks of all the MOBAs.

Take the lobby music, for instance. It crosses at least three genres of music. However, overall it's probably going to remind players of a kind of cross between The Avengers and Game of Thrones. In fact, a number of games use music that has a superhero vibe to it. MLBB kind of has it all. It starts out like The Avengers, crosses over to Game of Thrones, and then adds elements of various westerns. Ultimately, the message is: get ready for battle.

If you're really interested in understanding how seriously these games take their music and how aware they are of the tone the music sets, check out Magic Chess. It has a completely different soundtrack. It's light—the kind of music you get in a western where the protagonists get to a town for the first time and are looking for a good time.


Arena of Valor

What's pretty funny to just about anyone who has played Arena of Valor and Mobile Legends Bang Bang is that you immediately notice that they're practically the same game. Actually, it's almost impossible to tell them apart.

However, the music is definitely a little different. The soundscapes in Arena of Valor are a bit more simplistic, but they still harken toward that march toward battle. The soundscapes used in the main gameplay are very drum-heavy, reminding one of a march toward war.


League of Legends: Wild Rift

This game also resembles Arena of Valor and Mobile Legends Bang Bang. Actually, "resembles" is too moderate a word. They're all practically the same game. I don't know which one copied which and don't really care. The good news is, they're all fun. The bad news is that we really don't need all three.

However, the music in Wild Rift does have some distinct qualities. As far as the introduction screen goes, the music starts off almost exactly like all the others. It sounds like The Avengers or Game of Thrones. However, it builds and builds, drums beating, and you think it's just going to crescendo with the same type of sounds, but then it diverges into some electric violins sounds and becomes all modern and synth-y. Totally different from its competitors.

Other parts of the game have much different music as well. Following the intro screen, some violin follows, reminiscent of the kind of music you hear when a young girl has sex for the first time in the middle of a field in some movie. Again, they include some synthesizer to give it a more modern sound.

During actual 5v5 gameplay, the music reminds one of hobbits walking through the fields and then becomes more aggressive when fighting starts.

Overall, the soundscapes are quite complex in League of Legends: Wild Rift.


Vain Glory

The music in Vain Glory screams Avatar. You remember in that movie, or any movie like it, really, where you see the land and the people for the first time? Everything is so serene and perfect? Of course, that's before the evil interlopers enter and spoil it.

That's exactly what the music of Vain Glory conveys. Heck, there's flute in the soundscape. Whether it's fly over of Pandora or Ireland—no matter the movie, there's always flute.

And like its competitors, Vain Glory also uses drums, as if to convey that there's conflict coming. Something is coming. Something violent. Warlike. It's serene now, but a battle is coming. That's exactly what the introduction music in Vain Glory is all about.

Overall the music is lighter than in the other MOBA's with a hopeful tone. It's quite complex too. Flute!

Even when you begin playing, the soundscape is a surprising combination of light and heavy music.


Heroes Evolved

Heroes Evolved is similar to the other 5v5 games.

The music focuses almost exclusively not the build-up. Each of these games involves a march toward battle. Heroes evolved uses that music to focus on the march. There are lots of trumpets and drum beats that accelerate during the soundscape. However, the music isn't entirely serious. It has a kind of joyful tone to it. Some marching, war-type music can be very dark, as if death is inevitable. Heroes evolved gives its music a tone that implies combat, but in a way that is not dreary.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Allen Donald