Today it looks like the majority of the Final Fantasy’s series music was added to Spotify¹. Because of this, I was reminded that each expansion in Final Fantasy XIV since 2.0 has had an “official” Susan Calloway theme branded as the mascot music each time a new expansion launches. Those themes are “Answers”, “Dragonsong”, and Revolutions”.
Sans Answers, I’ve always felt the others were fine, but kind of a misnomer as being called the “main themes” of each expansion. I’m exempting Answers due to the unique context in which it was presented. You see, this was the song that accompanied Dalamund’s² fall. During the half-year prior to 2.0’s launch, there was a very faint and distorted version of Answers playing in the game’s overworld. It then went on to play in full when the 1.0 servers went offline and played in the first video posted above. After the game came back, it was reused and implemented into various instance’s of the game’s story. The most famous is probably The Binding Coil of Bahamut’s Turn 13 transition to the final phase of the fight.
At the time it was the most challenging fight in the game and as I’ve stated previously, I’m a sucker for layering when it comes to music³. Turn 13 does this, starting off with a soft vocalization of Answers before shifting into the scene shown above as the fight progresses to its climax. Also of note is Turn 12’s theme, which might be my personal favorite song in the entirety of 2.0. At it’s core, this is also just a heavily reworked version of Answers.
This is why I won’t fight Answers as the main theme of A Realm Reborn, even though it’s not what I consider the main theme itself, as its usage more than earned it that title.
So the actual main themes of Final Fantasy XIV? Those would be:
“Torn from the Heavens”
“Storm of Blood”
These all feature as leitmotifs that constantly appear throughout each of their respective expansions. Sometimes they’re so buried in the game’s background music you can just barely make them out, but the mileage taken from each of these songs is massive⁴. I personally think the richest implementation so far has been throughout Heavensward, but Storm of Blood is slightly more catchy than either two. They uniquely supplement each expansion’s overarching theme with a consistent audio wrapping and help distinguish an identity for each one.
With the recent release of the Shadowbringer’s Job Actions video, it looks like the main theme of the upcoming expansion has more or less been confirmed as well⁵. I’ll have to wait to play through the entirety of the Shadowbringers to give a final opinion of that one, but I’ve liked what I’ve heard so far.
For a game as critically lauded as FFXIV has been (especially its soundtrack), I just found it important to properly identify what its actual main musical themes are, even if Square-Enix won’t.
1 - Seriously, go check out Masayoshi Soken’s work on Final Fantasy XIV. As of Heavensward, I’ve more or less been in his camp over even Uematsu as far as Final Fantasy’s best music is concerned:
Before Meteor (1.0): https://open.spotify.com/album/0zRS6m02QDhbGNox3HUiRi
A Realm Reborn (2.0): https://open.spotify.com/album/74VSZdAZgEsJo5v35mc0UY
Before the Fall (end of 2.0): https://open.spotify.com/album/5EGEVFpArWiJCfFyqIKw7s
Heavensward (3.0): https://open.spotify.com/album/5651Ijbs6IcZXk125r09qf
The Far Edge of Fate (end of 3.0): https://open.spotify.com/album/1Qni6tSFL6ZlXZjUiHzy2m
Stormblood (4.0): https://open.spotify.com/album/53Gp9LyRLSjFW40JeTzUga
2. This is the moon that fell on the game’s world marking the end of the infamous 1.0 state of the game and ushering in A Realm Reborn’s 2.0 launch. This theme was played for about half a year in the game’s overworld as the moon drew closer to the game’s planet and gave everything an incredibly haunting and somber vibe.
3. Hell, if you look at the bigger picture of how Answers has been used throughout the closing of 1.0 all the way up until Heavensward, it’s one big progressive layering scheme.
4. Another favorite track of mine from 2.0 is “Penitus”. If you’re just casually listening to the song you may not even notice Torn from the Heavens constantly weaving in and out.
5. You can notice it if you compare the Dragoon’s segment with the final minute of the Shadowbringer’s full trailer. Also, shoutout to the latter’s trailer mixing of Final Fantasy III’s “Eternal Wind” into the Shadowbringers theme.