The Fractals of the Mists dungeon has been out and playable for a couple of weeks now and is possibly the greatest content addition in the Lost Shores patch. If you have around Lion's Arch for more than a few seconds, you're likely to see scads of LFG requests in mapchat. Don't let the number of people looking for level 21+ runs scare you off! Everyone starts somewhere -- in this case, it's at level 1. Let's take a look at what awaits you within Guild Wars 2's fractals.
The Fractals of the Mists is a five-player dungeon. While it's meant to be an endgame-type challenge for level 80s, you can head in with any level character you'd like and be side-kicked up as in WvW. You gain access by running through the small Asura gate near the Claw Island Portage waypoint in Lion's Arch. Through the portal, you'll find a hub where you can talk to NPCs to learn the story of the place, sell your goods, repair your armor, and enter the fractals themselves. You'll be sent through three random fractals (out of nine) at a time. Completing three fractals nets you three chests and a new level of difficulty. Upon re-entering the whole dungeon at a later date, your party will have the option of going in at either the highest mutually available level of difficulty or any previously unlocked level.
The Aquatic map places you in a lovely and serene pond area, then asks you to go into the watery depths of hell to mete out punishment on the Krait, set free trapped fishers, and find your way in near-total darkness. Your first objective is to free trapped fishermen by killing the Krait that surround them. After that, you'll be presented with one of two routes. The first, and apparently far more common, is to follow a trail of luminous plants into deep waters. You can pick luminous plants up for a protective aura as you travel between safe points (marked by bubbly geysers and a visibly brighter area). Traveling without luminous plants means leaving yourself open to attack from a swarm of hungry fishies: You'll know that's happening when the water is red with your blood and your health is dropping at an alarming rate. If you're not tasked with following the magical plant trail through the darkness, your party will be turned into dolphins and charged with sneaking past the Krait. You'll have a skill to reveal hidden Krait (which I have a tendency to spam), an ability to summon a fish to distract any hostile Krait, a sprint skill, and a skill to revive allies. Good luck, Flipper!
After you've completed whichever route you were given, you'll be asked to kill a "giant Jellyfish Beast." Stop laughing! Jellyfish Beast is a perfectly acceptable creature name. The cages around this beast will occasionally become electrified, so drag the Jellyfish Beast near them for some extra heavy damage. To get this fractal's bonus achievement, get through the dolphin section without getting caught by any Krait.
Welcome to what is quite possibly my favorite fractal. Your first encounter in this fractal is with the Legendary Archdiviner, who will drop his Cultist Hammer upon being defeated. This hammer is a persistent environmental weapon. Picking it up will give you two attack skills, one defense skill, and a fourth skill that has to be charged by killing enemies with the hammer equipped. That fourth skill is used to damage seals, and breaking seals is how you get through this dungeon -- you're meant to break seals to free a giant blue colossus. As you hold onto the hammer, you'll rack up a corruption debuff, which will make your life very sad if you keep it for longer than about 35 seconds. It's advisable, then, for at least two players to switch off carrying the hammer.
The final seal is guarded by another Archdiviner (unless it's the same guy, somehow), who'll go into a stunned state as you wear down each quarter of his health, giving you a chance to land a hit on the seal. It's worth noting that unlike other seals, this one can be damaged with normal skills (while the Archdiviner is incapacitated). The Diviner starts off with huge AoE attacks, then switches to locking people in a cage (hit it a bit to break out) and summoning minions.
Once the last seal is broken, Dr. Manhattan will be freed. When he turns back to bow at you, toss him a /bow or /wave to unlock this fractal's special achievement.
The first half of the Snowblind fractal is all about fighting off the cold. Players are able to use environmental Rusty Old Torches to light bonfires, which they'll find periodically throughout the map. When away from the cheery glow of bonfires, you'll accumulate stacks of a cold debuff, which will deal damage over time and can only be removed by proximity to a bonfire. Bonfires will also stack a warmth buff, which will give you more time to run through the freezing cold to find a new bonfire.
Your first real task is to keep a large bonfire lit long enough to melt a huge wall of ice. While one person is keeping that bonfire lit, the others in your party will be fending off waves of Sons of Svanir spawn. After that, you'll be fighting an ice elemental who will unleash AoE blasts, throw icy knock-back darts (thereby extinguishing your bonfires), and transport you around the fighting area in a huge snowstorm that reduces your visibility to nearly nothing until you've got a bonfire lit again. Defeating the ice elemental gets rid of the cold debuff and snowstorm, making fighting significantly easier from that point on. Make your way through the Sons of Svanir-riddled woods and to a cave where you'll find the Legendary Shaman, your end boss. Watch out for when he kneels, as you'll want to hit him then to interrupt his self-heal. While down on the ground, the Shaman will encase players in ice and use melee attacks. He'll occasionally port to an icy shelf and litter the fighting area with AoE attacks; just run or dodge out of them and wait for the Shaman to come back within reach. During the fight, you and your camera may get thrown around a bit by destroyable ice rocks that pop up here and there.
Light every possible bonfire in this fractal to get the level's bonus achievement.
To be continued...
That's certainly not all of the fractals, so check back in later this week for part two!
Elisabeth Cardy is a longtime Guild Wars player, a personal friend of Rytlock Brimstone, and the writer of Flameseeker Chronicles here at Massively. The column updates on Tuesdays and keeps a close eye on Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2, and anything bridging the two. Email Elisabeth at firstname.lastname@example.org.