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.