OK, final soundtrack time before the headstart. Tomorrow night I’ll be out wining and dining with a few friends to celebrate a couple of birthdays, and when I wake up on Saturday morning the live servers will be open and I’ll be able to leap into action with my new characters.
The final race to provide a soundtrack for are the Asura. I’ve already discussed my thoughts about Tyria’s little guys so I’ll happily repeat and maybe rephrase myself here. The Asura are definitely not, in my opinion, a knock-off of WoW’s gnomes (who were a shameless rip-off of Dragonlance gnomes anyway). They’re a short race in a fantasy world with the trappings of technology, but that’s the end of the similarity. Gnomes are buffoons with impractical steampunk contraptions that you just know are bound to fail in a catastrophic and amusing manner. Asura are snarky, sarcastic geniuses whose tech looks sleek and actually works most of the time. The asura zones themselves have a more advanced magitech theme to them – stuff that looks like sleek science fiction tech but is powered by their mastery of magic as a technology, with golems as robot servants everywhere in Rata Sum and Metrica Province. It has a very Star Wars sort of feel, which combined with the ancient jungle ruins they have converted into labs made them look like the mad scientists of Yavin 4. The Asura are the smartest kids in the class and they know it, the only question for them is WHICH Asura is the smartest kid of all, and they’re equally happy trying to prove it by displaying their brilliant inventions or by putting their rivals down. The Asura racial sport seems to be scoring points off each other in a withering display of sarcastic wit – they’re the Frasier of fantasy races compared to gnomes being the Three Stooges.
Musically – well, I’ve made it this far without picking any tracks from Two Steps From Hell so I’m going to indulge myself… after all, if Bioware can liberally use their tracks in SWTOR videos and the Asura are the Mad Scientists of Yavin 4, it only seems fitting somehow. I’ve picked tracks that reflect the sparkling genius of the Asura, the relentless energy of their golem creations and the beautiful combination of sparkling magitech and ancient stone suspended in impossible configurations that makes up Rata Sum.
With less than a week to go until the headstart, here I am with two races left to provide soundtracks for. In my defence, I have been busy both working and scouting around for a guild to join for the game’s launch, which seems to have been successful. Having found a guild that met my criteria (name I wouldn’t be embarrassed to have showing over my head, some sort of application process to reduce the risk of problem players, and a relaxed and mature ethos) and had my application accepted, all that remains is to hang out on their forums and wait to actually join up properly in game. Meanwhile, best to get cracking with some music for the Sylvari.
The Sylvari are the youngest of Tyria’s races. Although fully humanoid in appearance, they are all grown from the seed pods of the Pale Tree, and the first of their race emerged a scant twenty five years ago. To compensate, however, Sylvari are ‘born’ both fully adult and with knowledge from their time in the Dream while their seed pod ripened. The Dream is a sort of racial collective subconscious containing experiences of both the Pale Tree itself and of other Sylvari who have already ventured out into the world. It’s by no means an encyclopedia, but each Sylvari starts life with a collection of skills, half-formed memories and a sense of purpose from their Dreaming to set their feet on the road. This makes for a race that are simultaneously new and naive, and yet also ‘old souls’ with wisdom and knowledge that often surprise members of the other races. The Sylvari’s own culture and characters seem to blend celtic influences and touches from the Arthurian romances, making them definitely the most ‘New Age’ of GW2’s player races.
Part of me wanted to use some of Nightwish’s folkier tracks, but on the whole that band was just too good a fit for the Norn to pass up. Instead I’ve picked a few tracks by Loreena McKennitt, whose music combines traditional celtic roots with world music influences to create something that is genuinely magical.
On with the soundtrack picking. Good news, you only have to put up with me indulging myself in two more of these posts after this, and in ten days I’ll be too busy actually playing the game 🙂
Next up, the Norn. I’m not the first to say it, but these guys are Tyria’s ‘larger than life’ race in every sense of the word. They live fast, embrace challenges, and love drinking and boasting of their deeds, hearing the tales of others’ deeds and then maybe having a friendly scuffle over whose deeds were more impressive. Norns have a rough sense of humour and not much time for the meek or introverted, but a good heart underneath it all – it has to be understood that all that boasting isn’t coming from an arrogant sense of superiority but a sincere belief that one lives on in the tales told about you – “what we do in life echoes in eternity”. Their culture is a mix of classic OLd Norse, although a bit more up-beat and less doomful, with a Native American style shamanism that pays respect to totem Spirits Of The Wild. Plenty of players with leanings towards the more red-blooded traditions of paganism are going to love these guys – as an aside, I’d highly recommend Diana Paxson’s Essential Asatru as a very readable resource for anyone serious about roleplaying a Norn or Viking type as well as anyone whose beliefs actually incline that way.
For a race of boisterous pseudo-vikings the music selection has to be some sort of Scandinavian folk or symphonic metal, really, does it not? In my book, that means Nightwish or one of their pale imitators or rivals, so I went with Nightwish 🙂
Good news #1 – one replacement modem later, I’m back in action on the internet. So far, so good.
Good news #2 – access was restored just in time for me to dive in to one of the GW2 stress test events this week, grab a few more skill points on my Engineer and dive into some WvW for a keep siege. Pretty much all of the old warm, happy memories were there for me as a DAoC vet – bashing on doors, helping build rams, boiling oil from the ramparts (maybe not a happy memory that but definitely a warm one), intercepting defenders trying to nip in and reinforce their friends and the climactic boss fight with the keep lord. It really was like the good old times, although the asuran battlemech-style golem that helped bash the door down wasn’t something I saw back in Hibernia 🙂
Good news #3 – Trion did their first new soul reveal for the upcoming Storm Legion expansion pack for Rift. Mages will gain access to the Harbinger, a melee DPS soul as demonstrated in this here video which also talks about a number of other interesting changes, shows off the advanced magi-tech look of some of the new zones, and involves various shenanigans with members of the Trion staff. The Harbinger itself uses magic to conjure melee weapons and combines that with increased avoidance, some self-heals built in on one of its weapons (as well as synergising with the Chloromancer like all good mages), high mobility and a limited stealth ability through an invisibility spell. It also has abilities that reduce the cast times of other spells, making an effective combo with other mage souls – one thing they show in the video is a Harbinger/Pyromancer meleeing away and then suddenly throwing a couple of instant fireballs for a nice spike of damage. Overall, I got a similar feel to seeing a Harbinger played as I did with my Sith Assassin in SWTOR – a whole bag of tricks blending into a fighting style that mixes magic and martial arts. I want.
Of course, I also want to play GW2 for the long term, especially now that I have looked upon WvW and seen that it is good. Of course, from the 25th August I’ll be able to indulge in GW2 to my heart’s content (work and family permitting, I’m not actually planning on giving either of those up!) but the day will come, and quite likely before the end of the year, when a Harbinger and possibly other awesome new souls in Rift will be demanding my attention. And then there’s Mechwarrior Online, currently in a beta test that is under NDA, so I couldn’t possibly state whether I’m in it and if so whether I’ve enjoyed it so far. The only saving grace is that I’m definitely cured of any addiction toi WoW, so I won’t have pandas and pet battles competing for my time as well. As dilemmas go I’ve had worse, but still… too… many… games! 😀
EA and Zynga could settle out of court – EA drop their suit in return for Zynga’s help in ruthlessly monetising the new F2P SWTOR.
I’m just saying…
In other news, the Dark Tower of Tremayne is without broadband at the moment, and this post is brought to you by the WordPress app on my iPhone. There’s plenty of time for my replacement router to arrive before August 25th… I just hope it IS the router, because if it’s a line fault BT have basically told all other customers to get lost while they provide support for the Olympics!