With the release of Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns™, we’ll be making some sweeping changes to the Fractals of the Mists that I want to share with you. For those of you not familiar with the fractals, they are our 5-man dungeon content that takes parties through different places and times in Tyrian lore. This experience also increases in difficulty with each fractal scale that you complete. Our goal with these upcoming changes is to raise the challenge of the fractals on the top end and to make them more accessible to a larger group of players. In other words, we want to create an experience that is easier to get into and easier to learn but more difficult to master.
Changes in the Mists
One of the core changes we’re making is that each fractal run will only consist of one island from a static list instead of the current rotation of three random islands with a random boss fractal. This change to “1 fractal = 1 island” means that you’ll be able to run a fractal over your lunch break but still have the flexibility of running three or four fractals in the evening with your friends just like before. It also means that there will be a lot less pressure to find a group of people who can commit to 30–60 minutes in a single sitting or over 90 minutes on longer runs.
The new static schedule will allow you to practice a given fractal and learn its challenges with your friends, removing the necessity of rerolling fractals in order to find the fractal of your choice. This will also give you common ground to share similar experiences when you’re talking about a given fractal scale with other players. The lower scales will be adjusted to help make them more approachable to players to aid them in learning the mechanics of individual fractals before they scale up and become too difficult.
The changes I’ve discussed so far are aimed at trying to help make the fractal dungeons a more approachable game mode for a wider variety of Guild Wars 2 players. But now I want to talk about how we’re introducing more goals and finding new ways to challenge our existing high-level fractal players as well. To start with, we’re raising the maximum fractal scale from 50 to 100. In addition, after scale 50, the difficulty curve will change to adjust not only the health and outgoing damage of creatures but also other stats like precision and toughness. The combination of these changes will increase the viability of different builds and give players more to think about when attempting to overcome a particular scale.
As part of our work, we’re reevaluating the current list of mistlock instabilities in the fractals. We’re looking to rework the mistlock instabilities by updating some of the old ones or replacing them with brand-new ones, focusing on making sure the ones you experience will be truly challenging as you progress deeper into the fractals. For example, an instability that converted specific conditions on an enemy to boons will be replaced with one that prevents projectiles from being reflected. We’ve also augmented this smaller list with some new instabilities to test you. And if that’s not enough, as fractal adventurers make their way to the new maximum scale of 100, they’ll find themselves in situations where they’re pitted against multiple mistlock instabilities applied to them at the same time. To help you with these changes, we’ve also cleaned up the messaging on the instabilities so that the dangers you’ll face are easier to understand.
Additionally, for players who want just a little more help, a member of Dessa’s krewe is concocting some new consumables to aid your adventures in the fractals. These items will provide benefits that will stack with your other consumables to give you the boost you’re looking for to defeat a troublesome encounter. Visit her in Dessa’s Observatory after the launch of Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns to see what she has available.
New Achievements and Rewards
With Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns, we want to expand the reward systems of the fractals, create a new, unique item to help show off one’s mastery of the fractal, and reduce some of the complexity in the daily gated rewards that we currently have. Fractal players of all skill levels will find new daily goals, new achievements, and a new legendary objective.
You’ll also find that the Fractals of the Mists now have their own tab in the Achievements panel. In this category, you’ll find the original fractal achievements along with a number of new ones that require significant group coordination or even require you to be playing at higher difficulty scales to complete. Additionally, we’ve simplified the current system of daily reward chests into a system of new daily fractal achievements that have been separated into three distinct difficulty ranges: 1–20, 21–50, and 51 and above. Completing these dailies will give players a chance at the fractal weapon skins, ascended equipment, infused rings, and more. There also will be a new daily recommended fractal achievement that will rotate to different scales each day, giving you a focal scale to find other players looking to organize for a group.
At the end of every fractal, you’ll find a lockbox in the final chest called a fractal encryption. These encryptions may give you a new Mini Professor Mew, new ascended aquatic-breather recipes, high-level crafting materials, or many other rewards. Mini Professor Mew can be combined with an ingredient found in the fractals to evolve into a full set of cat golem miniatures. If you ever find yourself with extra (or not enough) boxes at the end of a run, don’t worry; you’ll be able to trade fractal encryptions with your fellow Tyrians. This new system will give you more choices over how you want to obtain the rewards you want for your fractal runs.
For players who’ve been hunting for fractal weapon skins, we’re making a couple a changes. The first is that there will be a collection for obtaining them all, including a new reward for its completion. The second change will help address the frustration of trying to find that one particularly elusive skin you really want that won’t drop no matter how many fractal runs you attempt. Once you’ve completed fractal scale 50, the golem BUY-2046 in the Mistlock Observatory will sell you a fractal weapon crate for pristine fractal relics, which will grant you a fractal weapon skin of your choice.
Additionally, a new version of the fractal weapon skins is being created but will only be obtainable at the new, higher fractal scales. Instead of a fractal weapon crate for these weapon skins, we’re creating a new recipe in the Mystic Forge that will allow you to take any one instance of the new skin and convert it to a new weapon skin of your choice. This will help maintain the prestige of the new weapon skins but still allow you to wear them on the weapon of your choice.
Introducing Legendary Backpacks
Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns players will now have the option of starting a new journey…a legendary journey. A guide will appear in Mistlock Observatory to help point players in the direction of new types of challenges, timed boss encounters, and collections of items to obtain both inside and outside of the fractals. Together with any of the armor crafting professions (armorsmith, leatherworker, or tailor), you’ll start with a simple new backpack and build it into the new precursor back item. Just like all future precursor and legendary items, this precursor will be account bound and can’t be traded—it must be earned. A new series of achievements and collections will track your progress on your quest.
The one final step of taking your precursor and transforming it into the legendary backpack is called Ad Infinitum. However, we’ll come back to discuss how that component works—and how it ties into our next steps for the Fractals of the Mists within Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns—in the future. For now, though, I can tell you that just like existing legendary items, players will need to collect components from all over Tyria. To craft each stage of the precursor backpack, players will need to obtain a new salvage item from ascended equipment. And that leads us to our next topic…
Finally, all of you who have been saving your fractal rings or bonus gear chests from the world bosses can clean up your banks! New ascended salvage kits will be added to BUY-4373; salvaging each type of item, like gloves or weapons, will yield different results, but all will provide a chance at the new ball of dark energy salvage item that will be used for crafting new legendary items in Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns and beyond. Salvaging ascended rings will also grant players stabilizing matrices, a necessary component for legendary crafting. These can also be traded in for fractal encryption keys.
While we were working on all of this, our programmer Lester Bloom found the time to add in some new core functionality for achievements. In the past, we’ve created scavenger-hunt style achievements that required you to visit a number of locations, collect each of a race’s cultural armor, or find a specific number of lost coins. With Lester’s new functionality implemented, players will see a list of subobjectives for these types of achievements that will be checked off as you complete each one. This will work similarly to the new karka-hunt collection achievement released with the rebuild of Lion’s Arch. We are retroactively adding this new support to many of our existing achievements.
Before I go, I know there are a couple things that group-content enthusiasts have been waiting to hear more about. One is fractal leaderboards. When we sat down to resolve some of the issues with fractal leaderboards that we’d discovered when we prepared to launch them in the Fractured update, it became clear that we wanted to do more to make them successful. The changes that I covered in this post are just part of our plans for fractals in Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns, and we’ll cover more details—including where we’re going with fractal leaderboards—in a future announcement.
The second is that—while we view fractals as our infinitely expandable, endgame version of 5-man dungeon content, and while we will be continuing to discuss fractals in future Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns announcements—this is not the new “challenging group content” that Colin announced on stage when he first revealed the expansion at PAX South. This is instead a way for us to continue to expand the content and rewards for fractals while simultaneously trying to make them more approachable to a wider audience in Guild Wars 2. Stay tuned for details about both the fractal leaderboards and our challenging new group-content feature for Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns at a future date.
Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the game!