Scrying Pool Feature

Scrying Pool: The Fractals and a Raid

Welcome to the Scrying Pool, my Guild Wars 2 column here on Mattsta.Ninja. This article is the next in a series of reviews for everything Heart of Thorns. As we reach the end of the review series, it is time to talk about something a little more challenging. Challenging group content that is.

I like Spirit Vale. It is a good introduction to what raiding is in GW2. Overall I don’t have too much to say about raids as I think they are really well done. I am curious where raids go from here, but that wait won’t be long as the next wing is coming very soon.

The difficulty in raids feels perfect. It is challenging to where it is limiting to the higher and more committed player base, but isn’t to the point where it is only the top tier of players that are going to complete the content.

If there is one area that felt underwhelming with raids it has to do with rewards. Raids are the top end content where the rewards are only given once a week, but the drop rate on some of the unique items and non-unique ascended gear seems pitifully low. Out of my 20+ boss kills I saw one unique ascended—Sabatha’s backpack—and no non-unique ascended gear. Miniatures have been a better source of drops with three unique miniatures—out of the 8 total—with an additional two duplicates.

I like the weekly lockout on the reward chest for each boss, but the drop rates just don’t feel like they are matching up. While I don’t think that the rewards should be a super amazing drop rate—to leave reason for players to continue clearing the raid in subsequent weeks—the next wing is about to come out and there is still a lot of unique rewards left in wing one.

To help offset this is Magnetite Shards, the raid specific currency that is rewarded for successful and good, but unsuccessful attempts. Like rewards being capped per week, so are Magnetite Shards. One problem with this cap is that most players would need to go back and fail the bosses a good amount of times to reach the weekly cap on these shards.

While it is nice that players still get something for hitting their head against a boss, I don’t know that I like the currency being awarded for failure. I’d rather see the reward drops from bosses include a slot that contains either a unique drop (ascended skin or miniature), a non-unique ascended or a large chunk of Magnetite Shards. This way you are either getting something awesome or getting the currency to eventually buy the awesome thing you want off the vendor. Instead of a separate, invisible limit on how many shards you can earn, the cap on the currency would be tied to the same lockout of boss rewards where players would find the only source for the currency.

The other side of the rewards is the liquid gold and experience players get from the boss chest. While this is a really nice chunk of change, it doesn’t seem like a week’s worth of reward. Going and helping another group kill a boss you already rewarded for that week is super underwhelming. It would be nice to see 1 gold and some experience added to subsequent boss kills during the week. While a gold might not seem like much, remember that once wing two comes out the first kill on any of the Spirit Vale bosses will go down from rewarding 4g to rewarding 2g.

Moving over to Fractals, HoT doesn’t seem to have been nearly as kind to this 5-man content. Overall the changes to fractals ends up being kind of meh. I really like the change from a randomized set of fractals to being able to go and run individual fractals, but this came at the price of everyone rerolling swamp all the time. The cap was raised to 100, but the lack of additional fractals makes those extra levels just feel like extra levels. Fractal weapons now have a more direct acquisition, but the new Golden Fractal weapons came in with almost the same randomness to getting them that fractal weapons previously suffered.

Mistlock Instabilities were a cool idea, but fell far short of anything I imagined them to be. From the way they were described, I was expecting each fractal level to have a unique instability that was tuned for that fractal. An idea I had thought of leading up to the release of HoT was that players would take significant damage whenever they jumped in the Jade Maw fractal. While those players that automatically jump everywhere would be feeling the pain, the idea was for players to look differently at the fractal. Instead of running through straight to the boss, players would need to ensure they could get out of combat after jumping through the introductory jumping puzzle. While this would put a small spin on the Jade Maw it wouldn’t really do anything to any other fractal, which is why I was hoping for individual fractal levels have their own unique instability.

Instead what we got was a blanket instability system where every set of 10 levels after 30 has the same instability. Not only is this blanket system uninteresting, some of those tiers become really annoying. While the idea is probably to make players switch up their builds and play tactics, it just results in players slogging through fractals all while just accepting every enemy will have max stacks of every boon on them. Instead of bringing something interesting or clever to a fractal, instabilities are mostly an annoyance to not even consider. And another reason to just roll swamp.

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