Jukebox Heroes: The best of Guild Wars 2’s Season 4 soundtrack

    
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On May 14th, Guild Wars 2 fans were delivered a bittersweet message from the game’s main composer, Maclaine Diemer. Diemer, who had been adding music to the title ever since back in Season 1, announced that he was stepping down as the soundtrack lead.

“Today is the release of the final episode of Living World Season 4 content for Guild Wars 2, and with that my final batch of music as full time composer,” he tweeted. “While there will hopefully be more from me in the future, it’s the end of a major chapter in my life. I hope players love it. I’m so grateful to have nine years of continuous work with such an amazing group of people.”

In honor of Diemer’s extensive work on the MMO, which spanned four living world seasons and two expansions, I thought it would be a perfect time to highlight the best of the Season 4 score in today’s column. So what does Guild Wars 2 sound like these days? Let’s take a listen!

“Aurene”

For once, Guild Wars 2 presented a dragon as a good guy rather than a world-destroying villain, and it got a theme appropriate to its status. Aurene is a haunting choral piece that is presented without any instruments so that you can focus on the almost sacred tone of the singers. It’s not the most exciting piece — but it will stick with you nevertheless.

“High Roller”

Probably my favorite video game music tracks are ones that are simply catchy as all get out. “High Roller” is certainly that, with an energetic and mischievous tune that iterates on its melody with ever-increasing intensity. To my ears, it sounds like a caper theme, and I like me some capers!

“The Mystic Forge”

Even fancy toilets deserve their own soundtrack (I guess?), and this one is quite pleasant to behold. The track comes across as a light-hearted fairy tale score that contains a hint of Arabian adventure in its running time. I’m not a big fan of how it gets more dire as it goes on, but at least the lighter stuff is worth the play.

“The Prophecy”

This track sends chills up my spine, perhaps because it sounds like a kissing cousin to John William’s more poignant Star Wars tunes. The tune takes us on a sad — and yet hopeful — journey that feels intimate and personal. This is the kind of music you point to when you want to prove to people that modern VGM isn’t just beeps and boops but actual art.

“Amala’s Theme”

We needed a good action track in here, and after listening through the entire Season 4 soundtrack, this was the one that appealed to me the most. It hits the expected beats of thrills and tension while giving any activity set to it a layer of urgency. This recording breaks off a little early, which is jarring, but I’ll survive.

“The Inquest”

A little eerie and alien — much like the Asura — “The Inquest” makes use of an echoey dulcimer to whip up a theme that would be at home in a Ghostbusters film as it would in a gnomish laboratory. I particularly enjoyed the subtle background percussion beats, which sounded like someone lightly tapping on large PVC pipes. This was the most atmospheric track from the season and one that I return to time and again.

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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