The Shatterer Unleashed in a nutshell
For those who haven’t encountered The Shatterer before, this goliath draconic monstrosity is the champion of the Elder Dragon Kralkatorrik, which sounds much more frightening than the old encounter ultimately ended up. Blind spots and permablinding trivialised the encounter to the point at which key attacks has no chance of hitting. This messed with players who needed to be encased by The Shatterer’s crystal encasement attack to complete their legendary journey, so you can imagine that change has been needed for quite a while. Gray explained that the team’s main priority in redeveloping the encounter was to solve the permablind issue entirely: Rather than simply make The Shatterer immune to blindness, though, his solution was drawn from his work on HoT.
The “easy way” to do that would be to just make blind fail on the Shatterer, like it does on other world bosses.
But coming off Guild Wars: Heart of Thorns development, defiance bars were fresh in our minds and seemed like a more interesting solution. We were able to add a defiance bar phase to the Shatterer’s “Shard Storm” phase, which beyond solving the permablind issue also added a new element to the fight. This is the phase when the Shatterer takes off and calls up his buddies to come teach you some respect, all while actively shooting you with lightning. Being able to prevent that with some timely CCs seems like a nice addition! —Andrew Gray
The Shard Storm phase wasn’t the only area in which the new defiance bar mechanic was put to good use: The healing Pulsing Crystal Nodes prevent have defiance bars to stop those pesky crystals from taking any damage until the bar is dealt with. Aside from employing the defiance bars, those nodes also heal The Shatterer much more than they used to, so they’re not to be ignored in the hope of out-DPSing their healing output anymore. Add to the improved strength of its attacks the fact that The Shatterer now better understands that its enemies can be in other spots aside from right in front of it’s rather sharp looking nose and you have a much more formidable dragon lieutenant!
Not to be outdone by the big shiny purple beasty, the Branded minions received a major buff too. Rock dogs stack vulnerability, devourers stack bleeding, and both the Branded Lieutenant and the new Branded Ravager have knockdown abilities. Patrolling Branded squads are the blight on the land that they should be, and they will take care of your siege equipment for you if you’re not keeping a watchful eye. Speaking of siege equipment, players will be relieved to know that the mechanics have been improved in many ways in this department: The mortars now use much more straightforward ground targeting, the Healing Rounds skill is both easier to use and much more beneficial, and the mortar’s movement speed is now four times quicker than it previously was – phew! Turrets hit both harder and faster, and both siege weapons can pack in the CCs to help with those new defiance bars.
One of the shiniest, flashiest improvements made to the encounter pairs with the warmly received news that gliding is coming to Central Tyria. Launch pads to facilitate strategic gliding use point straight at The Shatterer, ready for players to use if they have unlocked the gliding mastery in the Maguuma tracks (there’s no separate unlock required thankfully). Gliding players are granted the Bombardier bundle, meaning they can throw down med kits for allies while bombing the adds. Of course, when you decide to fly around an electrically charged dragon, things don’t always go smoothly, so Stealth Gliding is most useful here.
My initial impressions
I have to admit straight away that we were unable to down The Shatter in two attempts: I hope that is because we were all so busy asking questions and taking pretty screenshots and not that the fight has now swung in the opposite direction and is now too challenging, especially since the relative challenge of HoT and post-expansion content has been quite a bugbear for many players. The fight is frantic fun, however, and the failures did help us improve between attempts. I’m fairly confident that a third try would have had it down: We learned fairly quickly that spreading quickly and avoiding the air during the crystal phase while remembering to rotate around adds and man the siege equipment was the key to success.
I feel as though VOIP communication is becoming much more necessary for GW2 endgame players, and this reimagined boss encounter didn’t do anything to change my mind. We were collectively hanging on every word said over comms, hoping that someone would take the lead and coordinate the assault. I found that I was misplaced far too often because I wrongly presumed that someone else was already handling one particular aspect when that wasn’t the case: Using the siege equipment as an example, I would frequently leave people both manning and defending on top of that hill only to loop back later to find the equipment had been destroyed. We were evidently too busy picking the present ANet brains to use comms effectively, and it really showed in our rather sloppy ground cover.
If you’re trying out this fight for yourself today, don’t despair: It really was a fun encounter even if I did find it a little bit frustrating to be pulled in so many directions at once. There’s a waypoint right next to the big guy, so it’s not as though being defeated was a big deal, and I never felt the usual “rinse and repeat, profit” mentality kicking in, which is most appreciated! The mechanics are downright clever and engaging: Gliding in particular is an absolute delight, and a well-timed sweep of both the med kits and bombs can save the squad a great many deaths! As you can see in the screenie above, you’re given plenty of clues during the fight, so it’s not as though players are thrown in and left to figure out the mechanics and strategy for themselves. I’m sure that a polished team — or heck, anyone who is there to beat the boss at hand rather than gain information — wouldn’t feel quite as torn as I did, so it should sit comfortably in the entirely possible (if rather difficult!) pile for a decent proportion of the level-capped playerbase.
Over to you!
The aim of the game was to improve the fight and bring the challenge back, and I feel that ArenaNet has succeeded in this instance. I can’t wait to hear how you all find the fight over the next few days to see what the general opinion is on the difficulty and mechanics. Be sure to check back in to let me know how you fared! I’d also love to hear your opinions on the winter 2016 update now that it’s finally with us, so be sure to include those thoughts in your comments too.