One of the more anticipated parts of the Guild Wars 2 January 2016 update will be a reworked Shatterer world boss encounter that ArenaNet has been working on behind the scenes for some timw now. Tyrians looking for a challenge will not be disappointed. We caught up to Game Designer Andrew Gray to find out more about how this boss fight is taking advantage of gliding and more in central Tyria.
MMORPG: Why go back and rework the Shatterer event now? What prompted the decision internally? Was there a call for it from the fans?
Andrew Gray: There were a few known issues that we wanted to fix going into the project. The Shatterer is amazing looking, but after three years of people finding ways to trivialize the risks in the battle, the mechanics were no longer doing justice to the amazing visuals in the fight. We wanted to find a solution to the “perma blind” issue that caused most of The Shatterer’s attacks to miss—including the one players had to be hit with as part of a Legendary Journey—which was the main bug we knew we needed to address. There were also a number of “safe zones”—areas none of The Shatterer’s attacks would hit—that made, well, pretty much all of the other attacks miss the player.
Fighting a giant dragon and never getting hit just feels wrong. So that’s the motivation for what started the project, and it kept evolving from there. Fixing the “blind” issue had an easy solution, but solving it by adding a break bar phase added another interesting and challenging element to the fight, so we went that route. Once all the “must fix” issues were taken care of, we were able to get to the “but wouldn’t it be cooler if….” list. So we added improvements to the siege weapons, improvements to the branded minions, and improvements to all of The Shatterer’s attacks. We were given a great starting point—an epic five-story dragon—and the freedom to just “make it better” and we ran with it. And then I heard Central Tyria Gliding was planned for the same release, and well, now you can fly over him and chuck bombs at his head.
MMORPG: How is the fight changing? Give us a high level overview of the new layout?
AG: The most noticeable change is that you’re going to have to pay a lot more attention to survive the fight. Safe zones are very much not safe anymore, and every one of the Shatterer’s attacks has been improved. Longer range, wider arcs, more projectiles, and much stronger minions all make for a fight that keeps you on your toes the whole time. To balance these changes, the siege weapons have had significant improvements made to them, and players with the Base Gliding mastery unlocked from Heart of Thorns will be able to use nearby launch pads to take the battle to the skies.
Another big change is the addition of break bar mechanics. Break bars were a great addition to combat that we started using in Heart of Thorns, and we’re happy that we found ways to incorporate them into the fight. One of the Shatterer’s more devastating attacks can now be prevented by successfully breaking it, and some of the Shatterer’s minions—and the pulsating crystal nodes that show up to wreck your day by healing the dragon you’re trying to slay—both incorporate break bar mechanics now.
And to elaborate on the stronger minions, four custom made branded are now summoned instead of the base army variants, and these ones come meaning business. Their attacks synergize well with each other, and with the Shatterer itself. Dodging the Shatterer’s attacks is a big element in the fight, so if there were, say, a branded lieutenant that enjoys knocking you down, that would make dodging difficult. Stun breaks and condition removal will play a much bigger role than before.
MMORPG: How does gliding factor in?
AG: Along with the existing turrets and mortars, the vigil artillery line now also includes launch pads, where you get to be the ammo! These launch pads are a great way to get to the front line in a hurry, but for those who have Base Gliding unlocked, they will also allow you to deploy your glider midair, equipped with a Bombardier kit. This kit allows you to envision what life would be like as a B-52, raining death from above with volleys of bombs. It’s not all hellfire and shrapnel, though, you’re also able to throw medkits for your allies fighting on the ground to pick on, which will be much appreciated on the far more deadly Lowland Burns battlefield.
The sky has its own hazards, though. As those familiar with the fight may have noticed, the Shatterer is surrounded by quite the electrical storm, and rumor on the street is gliders are conductive. Stealth Gliding is a great way to not get knocked out of the sky!
MMORPG: Do you expect people to have it on farm status quickly?
AG: The Shatterer encounter will be inherently more complex because of the new and improved mechanics, however, we’ve also kept the difficulty of the encounter appropriate for the area that it’s in (Bladeridge Steppes is a level 40-50 zone). While there are some improvements to the rewards from the event, all of the existing safeguards against farming are still in place; reward chests are awarded daily by account or character. We’re also introducing achievements that will encourage players to want to participate when the event kicks off when they’re able to.
MMORPG: What are some of the new achievements we can look forward to? Any new titles in the bunch?
AG: The goal for the Shatterer achievements is to reward behavior that contributes towards success of the battle. There are a couple new achievements tied to successfully breaking the Shatterer—one of which is earned by breaking the Shatterer every time the break bar phase activates, and succeeding the event. There are also achievements for killing his summoned minions and destroying the pulsating crystal nodes. These are all things that one would naturally want to do to successfully defeat the Shatterer, and in fact, you’d be hard pressed to succeed if you didn’t do these things, but the achievements draw attention to the different mechanics of the fight, and add a reward for accomplishing them. There is one exception, which involves questionable positioning at the start of the fight, but it’s hilarious, so we had to do it.
There are no new titles, but there is a fancy looking item reward for completing the meta Shatterer achievement.
MMORPG: Are there plans to work on more events similar to the Shatterer in the future? Is this sort of a "test" for similar approaches?
AG: We’re always open to opportunities to go back to existing content and make improvements. The game has evolved a lot over the years and a lot of the new systems or mechanics we’ve developed could absolutely be incorporated into existing content to make it more fun and challenging. That would especially be something we’d pursue in situations where we can tie it in with the story we’re telling in a Living World release, either directly or as an ambient reaction to what’s going on in the world. So while this wasn’t intended to be a “test” it may not be the last time we do something like this, and like with any project we undertake, we’d certainly use the lessons learned during this project to improve how we accomplish similar goals in the future.