‘Iron Maiden: Legacy of the Beast’ Enters a Brave New World [Interview]
Iron Maiden just wrapped up the Book of Souls World Tour, but the adventures of Eddie don't have to stop just because his band's trek ended. Last year, Nodding Frog, 50cc Games and Phantom Music Management released Iron Maiden: Legacy of the Beast on mobile devices, which lets players live life as hard and fast as Eddie on the edge of the Iron Maiden multiverse.
With a new update based on Brave New World dropping and a comic spin-off coming from Heavy Metal, we chatted up Llexi Leon, interactive creative director of Phantom Music Management and creative director of Iron Maiden: Legacy of the Beast, to get the latest on the game and all that Iron Maiden lore.
Iron Maiden: Legacy of the Beast has been out for over a year now, and new content is continually rolling out. What's the latest coming to the game, and what's on the horizon for Iron Maiden?
We've been out for about a year, and since we've launched we've added Player vs. Player and the Lord of Light dungeons, which is our first dungeon set. That leads nicely into the next, largest content update yet, which is the Brave New World dungeons.
Unlike the "Lord of Light" dungeons, which is 10 tier dungeon, this is actually three different paths, each with 10 levels, each with a unique boss. Ultimately, it's like 30 levels across three areas. It's a very large dungeon area designed to help players earn rare Talismans, which are items you can equip to provide specific abilities and upgrades if you have certain sets.
There are some really cool Talismans coming in that update. One kind of makes you immortal for three turns, there's really desirable stuff that the competitive folk are really going to go nuts for. I hope.
With PvP and Player vs. Enemy, are those elements going to be balanced a little differently or will they work the same?
Ultimately with the PvE campaign, there's still a lot to be gained. Certain Talismans do lend themselves much better for end game players if they want to grind specific materials, or survive the Madness difficulty level. There's an element of PvE that is enriched by the Brave New World content. That's the fun thing about having those three silos in the Brave New World, you have the Garden of Fear and the Garden of Pain, and these different gardens have different reward trees. Some are more PvE specific and some are more PvP specific.
Right now, we have a lot of plans to keep supporting the PvP community. It's really strong; we're talking about millions of battles fought, which is awesome to see. We have a varied leaderboard, and everyone is chomping at the bit to get that number one spot every week. It's super-rewarding to see that many people engaged with the competitive element of the game.
At the same time, we do have more PvE content planned, more special events to collect more characters, and things like that. The next world is absolutely on the road map, which is Night City, which is the next PvE world. The first four worlds in the game are done, and they took you through the first story arc of Legacy of the Beast. When Night City lands, that will be the beginning of the second arc of the single-player story, and it goes off on a new journey.
One of the things I find fascinating about Legacy of the Beast is how you created an entire mythology around the different Eddies and the different album universes. It's very comic book-y in that sense. They all crossover with each other, you can mix and match all these Eddies you get to play as too. What was the genesis of the idea that all these worlds would collide with one another?
We were working on Legacy of the Beast as a concept long before it had the title. It was just the "Untitled Iron Maiden Mobile Game." We wanted to create something fans all over the world could play, and play for free, and that was kind of the why we went down the mobile route in our foray into video games. We didn't want it to be too obvious, just kind of hammy with every level being based of an album. We could have done that, and just a level per record, but it would have felt very fragmented and linear.
There's been a great amount of input from the Phantom team and from the game teams. Over many, many months there were just discussions of world-building, trying to figure out how do you create a cohesive narrative that takes Eddie on a journey. It doesn't necessarily give you the origin of Eddie --- you want to keep the character mysterious --- and he still has this Frankenstein's monster air where don't know where he came from and he still doesn't talk. He still has an attitude and a purpose, and you build it out from there.
His nemesis is The Beast. They seem to be locked in an infinite, eternal conflict, and with that you know this Beast is in this underworld, so you have to bring it together. We crafted this narrative that really does amalgamate the worlds and albums of Maiden, and the different Eddies you can play. You're traveling across time and space, but there's a reason for it all to take place rather than just having this one album sitting in isolation.
Like with Powerslave, Iron Maiden has written other songs that take place in the desert that weren't on that album. So we have the Kingdom of the Sands, where the Nomad, from the song "The Nomad," lives alongside the Pharaoh and the Mummy from Powerslave. It becomes an amalgamation of Maiden lyrical lore in a new environment that's heavily inspired from across those different tracks.
You touched on something I wanted to bring up, in that you don't just have a Powerslave world, it's the Kingdom of the Sands. You're incorporating different songs that tie in thematically to those more major albums and worlds. When crafting the narratives for those places and characters, have you on the development end given backstories that each of the worlds and Eddies have, even though we as players may never see them?
There's a limit to the degree of narrative we can get across in a mobile game. We've done a lot more narrative work as a team than we're able to convey in the game. That's where the comic book element came into it. We do actually have a Legacy of the Beast companion comic series launching in October as part of a collaboration with Heavy Metal. They're putting that out as a five-issue mini-series that covers the first arc that I mentioned with the first four worlds in the game.
It's a fun overview of the journey that Eddie goes through, but it certainly opens the door to developing those backstories, to sharing a bit more about how it is that Eddie can change into these different characters, and how he unlocks those abilities. He achieves the Pharaoh ability by defeating Horus, the Egyptian god that was corrupted by the Beast's influence. In the comics we actually see that take place, where Eddie defeats Horus and rips this soul shard from Horus's chest, and places it in his own body to transform into Pharaoh Eddie.
There are things like that where we're just filling in the blanks a little bit. Comics are still just 24 pages each, so even with five comics there's a lot of narrative to get through in just 120 pages. We can't go into super-detail, but it opens the door for us to go into further detail, do offshoots, make more volumes and so on. We'd be excited to get into it because we have a lot of ideas, and have sown the seeds for deeper narratives for all these worlds and characters.
When working on a game like this so influenced by the work of Iron Maiden, how much say or input has the band had in what the vision of Eddie is to them versus what he is to the development team?
The band has been involved throughout the process, particularly during that nascent stage where we were hashing out what is this thing going to be and how it was going to work. The whole band came out to the studio in Vancouver a few times, and we were able to really get a sense of what we were trying to achieve with it, and share our plans and road map, and they would be able to give feedback. We had that direct interaction as well as emails with the management for approvals and all that.
Once there was a really strong sense of direction everyone was happy with, that's where the game took on a life of its own and became Legacy of the Beast. It's almost a thing that lives separately now to the band and Iron Maiden and what they're doing. As much as what they're doing inspires and informs what happens in the game, Legacy of the Beast is its own entity that's also inspiring products like comics and toys.
There's still the Powerslave record, which is on a pedestal, and I wouldn't want to mess with it. It is what it is. The Kingdom of the Sands has been inspired by the art of that album, but there's still time to tell the specific story of that album art that's separate from the Kingdom of the Sands in the game. We've created a new canon.
One thing Legacy of the Beast has that you don't really get to see anywhere else are all these fantastic characters that show up as enemies and companions. As you go through the journey, you have your one Eddie, but you have all these other creatures that fill up your party and that you fight. Are these other characters from ideas you envisioned from the songs or are these more along the lines of suiting the needs of a game world?
It's a bit of both. Sometimes you're looking at game mechanics and game balance, and you find you need more support characters or healers. Then you're looking at that and wondering which worlds you haven't done that many healers in, and what are songs that might inspire characters for this world. With something like the Battlefield world, there are so many Iron Maiden songs that deal with war and military history, that it's very easy to set all these different soldier types with different abilities and different eras. You can have a medic and a bomber boy right alongside, and it fits well. We have big plans for "The Trooper," which is themed from the Crimean War era, so that's a slightly different era again.
Other times, it's a song like "The Nomad" that was universally loved by the team. There's so much great material on Brave New World that wasn't necessarily visualized in an album or single cover, so we had to think what we wanted to do with that. What does that inspire us to do? The Nomad became this mysterious masked character that isn't an Eddie, but that becomes an ally, whereas the Ghost of the Navigator became a ghost pirate Eddie.
What albums are you hoping to touch on for this next chapter, and which Eddies are you most eager to see brought to life in Legacy of the Beast?
The fun thing for the next chapter in PvE is kind of going back to the roots. We've done a lot of the high-concept stuff with occultists and battlefields and ancient Egypt, but we're pulling it right back to Night City. We're taking back to where it all begins, which is gritty East End London in the 1980s, to deal with some more grounded stories. It has a bit more of a vintage Maiden flavor, which is cool. It's a bit more edgy and aggressive, and we're also bringing Killers Eddie into the mix.
If you're big into Maiden, you'll know there's a trilogy of songs in the catalog that deal with the character of Charlotte, so she's going to be brought into the game at that point. There's a lot of exciting stuff coming from the early days of Maiden lore for this next world. I'm psyched about it.
Iron Maiden: Legacy of the Beast is available for free now on iOS and Android platforms. The Brave New World content just arrived in-game. The Heavy Metal comic is due out this October. You can check with your local comic shop on the exact date to pre-order your copy.
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