Ironically, the next Guild Wars 2 update, Fractured, will not likely fracture the player-base. In fact, a lot of the changes to the game’s signature dungeon (Fractals of the Mists) will do for Tyria what other open world updates have done: bring players together and give them a reason to do so. The Fractured update is where Commander Ellen Kiel will make good on her election campaign promise. During the elections held a few months back, Ellen won over Evon Gnashblade by promising a host of things, but none so enticing as bringing the Thaumanova Reactor event to the Fractals. Additionally, two previous Living World events (the Aetherblade Retreat and Molten Weapons Facility) have been revamped to be a part of the Fractals too. And that’s kind of the idea behind FotM in general: it’s ArenaNet’s tool to revisit the past of all Tyrian lore and Fractured is only the beginning.
During a recent press roundtable focused on the update (which launches today), Colin Johanson started things off by saying that Fractured is ArenaNet’s update for expanding and revisiting many of the Fractals, which have been popular since their launch several months ago. The goal has always been for Fractals of the Mists (FotM) to serve as a dungeon-diner’s dream: infinitely repeatable and explorable chunks of dungeon content that is constantly being added to over the course of the game’s life.
As with everything ArenaNet’s tried to do with GW2, the team has wanted the dungeons, and especially FotM to get away from mindless dungeon runs where you know exactly how to handle every situation, and instead wants the challenges to be randomized and keep you on your toes each run. The Fractals are also perfect for the team and the players to explore the deep and layered history of Tyria across GW1 and GW2, as well as the tons of un-played events that were written into the game via lore and possibly even novels.
As a part of the “refresh” of the Fractals, there’ll be a new story-mode version of Ellen Kiel’s much anticipated election promise: the Thamanova Reactor fractal. This will exist for two weeks, and then the Reactor’s main FotM representation will remain without the good captain to see you through. We asked Colin and technical designer Anthony Ordon if we’d ever see the Abaddon fractal users could have had if they’d elected Evon Gnashblade, and the answer was pretty simple. If Abaddon ever comes into the game it won’t be for a very long time, and it will likely be different than the Fractal version. They don’t want to cheapen the consequence of having players elect Ellen Kiel over Gnashblade.
There are some significant changes to the Fractal rotations and and levels coming too. We’ll just paste what ANet recently released on their blog, as it explains it perfectly:
- Fractals are now weighted according to their length and difficulty. Easier fractals will always show up earlier in the run, with more difficult ones coming later.
- All 50 levels now have a boss fractal after the standard rotation of three normal, instead of only offering a boss encounter at the end of even-numbered fractal levels. You no longer need to worry about skipping levels to get the best rewards!
- Your personal fractal difficulty and reward level is being made account-wide! Starting with the Fractured release, you can attempt high level fractals on a new character without needing to level up all over again.
Two new boss Fractals are also being added so you won’t always have to fight the Jade Maw every three runs. Mai Trin from the Aetherblade event and the Molten Berserker and Dredge Firestorm are back as Fractal bosses now. And as a part of resetting everyone’s Fractal level and making Fractal levels account wide, there are new Mistlock Instability effects on every level above 30. Each level above 30 will have a new Instability causing you to rethink your strategy as you go further and further up the ladder. On top of all this, the entire rewards scheme is being changed for FotM too to make them as enticing in terms of gear, cosmetics, crafting and gold as the rest of the game’s content.
Indeed it seems like all of these changes should revitalize the Fractals of the Mists. Dungeons mave have grown a bit stale for fans of GW2 PVE, and this update looks to shake things up a bit. I asked the GW2 subreddit what they thought of the changes, and most of the answers were positive. But there’s one thing left unanswered: with most players higher up in the level range of the Fractals, who will help those wanted to get in on the action now? Hopefully, the revamped LFG tool will do its job and put those like-minded folks together.
What do you think of the Fractured update? Will you be checking out what the Fractals now have to offer? Let us know!
Bill Murphy / Bill Murphy is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.