Wednesday, September 25, 2019

When I Feel Heavy Metal (Woo-Hoo): GW2

When I read that there was going to be a Charr metal band in Bound By Blood, all guitars, drums, bass and heavy amplification, I was skeptical in the extreme but at least I could see that it wasn't one hundred per cent out of context. Half the Charr NPCs in Black Citadel already sound as though they've wrecked their vocal cords throwing up into a bucket singing in grindcore or death metal outfits.

It's not as though Tyria doesn't have the technology to support rock and roll. It's too easy to think of most of these settings, from Azeroth to Eorzea, Norrath to Tyria, as classical high-medieaval fantasy but about the only one I can think of that fits that bill is Lord of the Rings Online.

The rest are either magitech or science fantasy. Every one of them has at least one technologically advanced race, usually standing about three feet high, whose devices and inventions far outstrip anything 21st century Earth could match.

Technological capacity aside, some MMORPGs just don't sport a culture that could accomodate something as brash and specific as heavy metal. I can't really see it fitting comfortably into EverQuest, for example.

If you were to design a race with the specific intention of housing a burgeoning hard rock and metal scene, though, you couldn't do much better than the Charr. Their entire capital city is made of metal. They have an Iron Legion that does nothing but make heavy metal machinery. They're big, loud and boisterous and everything they do involves either shouting or growling.

I can't say I've seen many hints of specific musical tastes among the Charr until now but if they're going to enjoy any kind of music it seems as likely to be metal as anything else. Now I think about it, I imagine the Norn favoring drinking songs, chanting and quite possibly prog rock, the Asura techno, EDM and math rock, the Sylvari folk, ambient and chillwave and Humans just about anything at all.

Charr most likely go for anything on the spectrum that ranges from Classic Rock at one end to Black Metal at the other. I really don't know enough about the intracacies of the genre to make an accurate assessment of the exact sub-genre of metal performed by Metal Legion, but it sounds to me somewhere around the late thrash metal period, something like Metallica.

I'm no metal fan and haven't been since I was about fourteen but if I'm going to listen to anything along those lines it might as well be something like this. About the only current band widely akcnowledged as "metal" that I genuinely like is Rammstein. Metal Legion are no Rammstein but they know how to ride a riff and chant a chorus which is plenty good enough.

Mrs. Bhagpuss attended the concert event in Grothmar Valley yesterday then came in after it ended to tell me how good it was and how it had made her laugh out loud. She's no metal fan either so I took that as a strong recommendation.

This morning, after I'd done my dailies, I made a point of going to see for myself. I had to look up the exact location (even though it turned out I'd already been there when I was exploring the map). I was somewhat surprised to find the stage was Blood Legion property and that Metal Legion's affiliation was also Blood. I'd just assumed they'd be Iron from the obvious metal link and the fact that it's Iron who are in love with technology.

The concert begins every day at sundown. I had no idea what time it was when I got there so I settled down in the bleachers to clear my bags and sell on the exchange, something that can easily occupy an idle half-hour. And that was about as long as it took. 

People began to filter in and sit on the benches or stand in front of the stage. After about a quarter of an hour someone arrived sporting a Commander tag and announced to general chat that he'd be hosting a full PoF/HoT achievement run. He asked everyone interested to join his squad and meet at the stage in thirteen minutes, when the gig was due to begin.

And so it did. The band, four Charr, one each on guitar, bass, drums and vocals, took their places, gave shout-outs to all four Legions in the audience, thanked the Imperator for the opportunity to play and then launched into their three-song set.

From start to finish the event was a joyous and atmospheric pleasure. All three of the songs were pretty good. The riffing was bodacious as Bill and Ted, who would have loved every minute, might  have said.

There were a host of mini-games and events throughout, all of which were intuitive and fun. The crowd was in constant, fervent motion. There was much moshing. My druid pogoed. A lot. 

The light show was psychadelic, the flames roared, the pyrotechnics got predictably out of control  towards the end and had to be extinguished by the audience. Many achievements were completed without even trying and there were presents at the end.

The whole thing was ten times better than I had expected when first I heard about it, although once it had received Mrs. Bhagpuss's seal of approval I knew it was going to be a good time.

Once again, whichever ANet team was responsible for Bound By Blood knocked it out of the park. If they carry on like this the game will be on its soundest footing since Season One.

Metal Legion! One Charr! Where do I get the T-shirt?


  1. I like to think that all the fantasy races can enjoy all types of music.

    I can see a stressed char winding down with a depressing country song in a tavern. Or a asura humming some pop song while doing research in the lab or even better cooking a meal at home.

    Assuming, that only humans can enjoy all different kinds of music is just not fair. It's like assuming all klingons are warriors just too one dimensional to characterize an entire race.

    By the way i enjoyed the concert too :)

    1. That is absolutely true, of course. There is, though, a great deal of stereotyping in most (all?) MMORPGs when it comes to races. Most of them don't get more than a handful of racial characteristics. Humans, on the other hand, usually get none at all - they are almost always the jacks and jills of all trades.

      Charr and country music is an interesting one. I can totally see that. There are a lot of examples of Charr seeming quite depressed or dis-satisfied with both their own lives and the way their society operates. I can see them getting very maudlin late in the evening. As for the Norn, Braham is pretty much the poster-boy for Emo, or he used to be.

  2. eh, that's not metal. Dead Kennedys inflected with surf punk. Dick Dale would recognise it as something he might play - if he wasn't dead, of course :).

    1. That would certainly explain why I liked it. I was clutching at straws trying to place it in context. The whole "metal" genre is so unbelivably convoluted (as are most musical genres now) that no-one from outside the particular silos can hope to tell one strand from another.

      It sounded like the transitional period in the 80s to me, but that may be because I haven't really paid much attention to hard rock/metal since then. I did like it, though.

  3. I can definitely see Charr kicking back, sipping whiskey and listening to Johnny Cash. Or going all Vietnam era and listening to the Rolling Stones. As for the Norns - they look just made to be a race of Nightwish fans.

    And for some reason I can just picture an Asura recreating Jean Michel Jarre's Docklands, playing Rendezvous II on the laser harp.

    1. I had to look Nightwish up... they appear to be some kind of Dark Elf Vampire/Troll hybrids! Very scary. Loads of snow in the first video I watched and the second seemed to be in some kind of Norn/Dwarf tavern, so yes, I can see that!

      The more I think about the Charr, the more I think they'd go for classic rock, edging toward the Led Zep end but definitely also The Stones. And the whole dark country thing late at night...

      Asura would be all over everything where most of the music is coming from complicated machines - not to mention the laser lightshow.

  4. I love the verisimilitude of all the charr NPCs running to the concert, and then running back to their various outposts when it is over. Stuff like that really makes it feel “world” like, rather than “game” like.

    And as one Ash Legion charr commented after, when passing by their camp or some other unrelated place I forget now, if you actually listen to the words, it’s kinda scary and sinister. Militaries mentioning “purity” in the same breath as war is a very bad omen.

    As a game event for players, it’s great. Frenetic, fun, and not at all reliant on any expectation of player competence, so one can just enjoy the ride. (Contrast with the Effigy meta, there’s still some organization to go on that one. A human chain makes the most logical sense, but no one has managed to herd player cats atm.)

    1. One thing GW2 has done consistently well since launch is incidental NPC dialog. I did a post on it once but it bears repeating. Even when the storytelling has been at its worst, the NPC chatter has generally been good.

      I didn't listen to the lyrics (apart from "Metal Legion", which only has two words! I was too busy pogoing and runing about. Next time I'll pay attention. Given the twist in the storyline, the fact that they're so clearly in the Blood Imperator's pocket suggests they share his extremely dubious agenda.

      As for the effigy meta, I don't quite get what the problem is. I've only done it once and people were yelling about chains all the way through the last part but I had no difficulty running my buckets all the way to the drop spot on my own. As far as I could tell no chain was ever started but we completed the event with no issues.


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