Jukebox Heroes: Guild Wars 2 Path of Fire’s soundtrack

I feel comfortable in saying that I hold the Guild Wars franchise’s soundtrack in high regard. There’s excellent music across the board from a variety of composers, and in my opinion, it has only gotten better over time. The Guild Wars 2 Living World season 3 and Heart of Thorns scores knocked it out of the park, and I could not wait to listen through Path of Fire when it released earlier this year.

That is why, to continue using an awkward baseball metaphor, I was let down when this expansion’s score was a mere double instead of a home run. It’s not bad, mind you, but it’s certainly not as great as the previous expansion or what the team has been putting out in the meantime. Perhaps some of this stems from the desert theme, which I’ve always found to inspire somewhat stereotypical “desert music” that sounds samey and not that thrilling. Guild Wars: Nightfall was my least-liked score of the original game for this reason as well.

Again, I want to emphasize that I don’t hate Path of Fire’s score, I just don’t like it as much as what’s been done before. This time around, four composers put together the album: Maclaine Diemer, Wilbert Rogett, Brendon Williams, and Stan LePard. This team did produce several highlights that I prefer to mention rather than talk about what didn’t work, so let’s give those pieces a listen!

1. Sands of Time

Out of all of the tracks on this album, this one sounds the most like “classic” Guild Wars orchestration, whatever that may be. It’s pretty epic and plays off of low and high horns, embracing its fantasy roots rather than shying away from them. It also keeps contrasting between super-quiet and super-loud, making you anticipate the next time that the track decides to jack it up.

2. On the Banks of the Elon

One of the most perfect instruments for MMOs — in my opinion — is the harp. There’s something ethereal and otherworldly about it, a cue that we are transported to a place foreign to our own. This track opens with the strumming of a luxurious harp before getting swept away in an old-time movie score that holds very little back. Loud or soft, this track takes its time and rewards the listener who slows down to meet it at its pace. Truly beautiful.

3. Highland Hares

More of an action track, Highland Hares communicates rapid movement and surefootedness. There isn’t a lot on repeat here but rather a linear journey bounding around the scales without stopping even a heartbeat. I’m quite exhausted by the end just from listening!

4. Path of Fire

Oh hey, it’s the main theme! Probably should cover that, right? This is a good example of what I’m talking about when I reference desert-style music. It sounds more Arabian with its instruments and sorrowful tones. You can picture pretty much every movie where a caravan of camels crosses dunes to an oasis from listening to this. Pretty, but it isn’t treading new territory.

5. Pricklepatch Hollow

Unusual instrumentation that results in tracks that stick out are a favorite of mine, and Pricklepatch Hollow takes a terrific diversion from the rest of this soundtrack with echoey percussion and xylophones. To my ear, it sounds tribal — not unfriendly, but not safe either. Also, great name of both a place and a track!

6. Reins of the Raptor

Cheeky and brimming with pent-up energy, the beginning of this track lets you know that you are in for one heck of a ride. If this is a riding tune, as its name suggests, I can get on board with its gradual ramping up of motion and volume. Too much of that deserty music sound seeps into this track for my liking, but I’m still including it for the pop of the percussion and the bass strings.

How to get this music legitimately: ArenaNet has let us know that it’s working to have these tracks pulled from YouTube, but you can purchase the music through the studio’s official channels. In fact, if you purchase it through Amazon, we even get a cut.

MMOs are meant to be heard as well as seen, and chances are that music ties your memories to these games more than you might realize. Every two weeks Jukebox Heroes listens through a game soundtrack and picks out the highlights to share and discuss. And if you like this column, then don’t miss the author’s MMO music podcast, Battle Bards!
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8 Comments on "Jukebox Heroes: Guild Wars 2 Path of Fire’s soundtrack"

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zoward

I bought this unheard, due to the strength of the HoT soundtrack and the middle eastern vibe (which I’m hugely fond of). While it was a good match for me, I have to agree with those here who say that it’s not as musically strong as the HoT soundtrack.

Alas, I can’t compare it to the original GW2 soundtrack, as I don’t have $350 to spend on it … grrrr …

threeknee
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threeknee

I don’t think I’ve heard the first or the sixth ones in game … This soundtrack is very weak I think, very quiet and shy and kind of too simple. Not liking it.

miol
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miol

I, myself, am a sucker for “desert-style music”!
Just like the desert itself, they’re calm and serene, always having a soothing effect on me!

Maybe because of my stressful life, I can never get enough of it! ;P

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Jeff

I personally love the POF soundtrack. I think Jeremy Soul is overrated most of his work is derivative, and he is an absolute jackass to work with or so I have heard from many industry folks

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blah blazh

my favorite soundtrack from PoF

kalamari_
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kalamari_

that was the only song that made me say “ohhh” when I initially played through PoF. because it reminded me of skyrim/dwarfs and I was at the snowy bridge in the west of the desert highlands at the time when the chorus started singing. perfect moment!

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Jeff

yeah this is an awesome track…..I think that one was done by their intern Maclaine Diemer, I hope they keep him in house.

Minimalistway
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Minimalistway

Pricklepatch Hollow reminded me of Legend of Zelda, i don’t know which game, i just thought it sounds like one Zelda soundtrack, i love it also i love Reins of the Raptor, i’m adding both to a list.

Thank you Justin :-)

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