Friday, November 16, 2012
Fractals and Frizzles
My night started with battling the Karka that were emerging in Lion's Arch. I'll condense my impressions of this starting event into a later article with the other events that occur throughout the week.
However, tonight I want to focus on the Fractals of the Mists. It's a new dungeon that features 9 randomized fractals that you experience with your group in packets of 3. You essentially start out in a hub, finish 3 randomized fractals, and then return to the hub. Each time you finish a set of 3, the difficulty level increases by one. On even difficulty levels for example 2,4,6, after your set of 3 you participate in an encounter on the scale of the Claw of Jormag or another Meta Event.
I didn't have a huge time to devote tonight, but I managed to finish difficulty level 1 twice, and difficulty level 2 once, as well as the large encounter. What I experienced was nothing more than a wonderful addition to the game. Until this point, I have challenged ArenaNet's instanced PvE design, specifically the explorable dungeons. I finished 40% of all explorable mode paths, and I have to say that I was disappointed. Difficulty and rewards rarely correlated, and what basically ended up happening, is that people would just solely grind the easier paths for equal rewards. In this new dungeon, the harder stuff gets, the better rewards you receive I love that.
The fights and mechanics were nothing short of spectacular in the new dungeon, and were relatively challenging. It's hard to say how challenging though, and here's why. In my first set of three fractals at level one difficulty, two people in my group left in the middle of the second fractal. However, with my brother and I (both 80s with full exotics) coordinating on Skype we were able to carry our remaining teammate, a useless Guardian who tried to tank everything, to finish out the last two fractals.
At difficulty two, I was with my brother, a friend, and a friend of a friend (essentially 3 80's with full exotics, and a level 28 guardian). We had a necromancer also with us in the first fractal, but again he left around the second fractal. What can you say other than PuG's right? They come and go as they please. And this provides a glimpse of my largest complaint. If someone in your party leaves, you can't go back to Lion's Arch to find someone. You also can't invite a friend or guildmate, because they cannot join the same instance as you for some reason. Essentially you are stuck with the remaining players you have, or you are forced to reset the previous fractals you have done on your current difficulty level.
My group also discovered something incredibly interesting. I thought it was cool that the fractals that you recieved were randomized, but I concluded that eventually it would probably turn stale when you had done fractals dozens of times. And that probably still is the case. However, when my group repeated an underwater fractal, part of the sequence of events that we had to complete changed. Instead of using luminous plants to navigate a dark room, we were transformed into dolphins, and were tasked with avoiding krait. It really transformed the fractal for me, and was amazingly enjoyable. I don't want to spoil any of the fractals, but they are filled with beautiful scenery, challenging content, unique but understandable mechanics, and justifiable rewards.
On a side note, I didn't really notice a huge difficulty jump from level one to two, so I'll be interested to see how far the hard-core make it tonight. I can imagine 5 players that are well geared and coordinated could go pretty far.
The rewards were fantastic and I received around 2 gold in profits from literally selling everything I got my greedy hands on. I would love to see the rewards for the higher levels, and I'm excited to play again tomorrow.