Fractals are 5-player instanced content with the aim of progressing from low-tier introductory content, to higher-tier versions of the same encounters. Agony Resistance (an attribute unique to this game mode) is required to progress to higher tiers of Fractals.
In this guide, we introduce Fractal-specific gameplay and progression systems, offer some tips for getting started, and point you to further resources.
There are a number of reasons why people play Fractals. They are fun to do, they offer a clear progression goal of clearing the highest tier and upgrading your gear with Agony Resistance. Fractals also offer some shiny skins and cosmetic infusions.
The biggest goal for most people is completing Fractal “dailies”, which means doing all Fractals at the highest tier accessible from the Daily Fractal of the Mists achievements category, as well as Challenge Mode Fractals.
This is one of the best gold and gear farming methods in the game; efficiently clearing daily Fractals with Challenge Mode Fractals and Recommended Fractals can reward you (daily) with over 40 in as little as 1 hour.
Each Fractal tier awards one daily reward chest. Completing Tier 4 dailies awards you all daily reward chests for this Fractal from each tier.
Daily chests have a chance to drop ascended gear which makes upgrading your character very cheap and easy. Even if you don’t drop your desired stat type, you can simply change it with the stat-swapping Mystic Forge recipe, which is described in more detail in the Gearing up to Ascended guide.
On top of that, the game incentivizes you to aim for daily Fractal completion, with weekly Fractal achievements that require you to finish a number of unique Fractals from each Tier and reward an additional 2 per achievement for a total of 8 each week. Tier 1 requires 12 unique Fractals, and tier 4 only 6.
Fractals have a number of achievements attached to them which can give you a nice Achievement Point boost (over 450 AP in the whole category).
Each one of the Challenge Mode Fractals has a title for clearing it, and if you are dedicated to this game mode, you can even aim for the “Fractal God/Goddess” title which requires a minimum of 230 days of doing all daily, weekly, and CM Fractals.
The following systems are unique to Fractals and will be important for understanding how this game mode works, and how to progress.
There are 100 levels in Fractals, equally divided into 4 tiers:
- Initiate (Tier 1)
- Adept (Tier 2)
- Expert (Tier 3)
- Master (Tier 4)
To open a higher-level Fractal map, you need to raise your Fractal level to match that map’s level. You can achieve this by finishing a Fractal that’s either of a higher or at the same level as your current personal fractal level. If you want to do a Fractal of a higher level than your current personal fractal level, you can ask another player with a higher level to open it for you.
Each level requires higher Agony Resistance and has stronger enemies (higher health, more damage), additionally, each Tier adds more mechanics to encounters.
You can reduce its effects by infusing gear with Agony Resistance. Infused items must be at least of ascended rarity, which forces you to upgrade your gear in order to clear the highest level Fractals without dying to
Note: Items that were stat-selectable when first obtained, will loose their selected stats and be again stat-selectable after infusion and/or attuning, this provides an opportunity to reuse your old trinkets if you want to change stats on them.
If you find yourself in need of quickly increasing your Agony Resistance (for example when your friends open a higher level Fractal for you), you can get a temporary 10 Agony Resistance (15 with Fractal Attunement Mastery) by using
Mistlock Instabilities are game-changing features that range from giving boons to enemies, to preventing stacking or any collision with allies. Tier 2 Fractals have one instability active, Tier 3 has two active and Tier 4 have three active at the same time.
Every day, Instabilities will be randomly assigned to each Fractal. To learn how to deal with instabilities, there is no better way than experiencing them. Each Instability is designed to make the content harder, but handling them properly will reward you with increased damage, boons, or other beneficial effects.
As an example: when you will have Toxic Sickness Instability, all group members will be periodically subjected to a vomit-inducing toxin, if you will allow this cone-shaped AoE to land on your teammates,
If you’ll target enemies with it, those enemies will get the above conditions and Debilitated effect (outgoing damage decrease by 10% per stack, up to 30%) as an added bonus.
Fractal Attunements are central Tyria masteries requiring a total of 11 mastery points to unlock. They will help your Fractal journey by providing more loot through certain daily Fractal achievements and adding specific vendors to the Mistlock Observatory.
- Follows Advice: unlocks daily recommended Fractals from Tier 2 and 3, unlocks a vendor that is useful for infusing equipment
- Agony Channeler: bonus rewards from boss chests, mist potions now convert a percentage of your Agony Resistance to specific attributes, and helpful vendors will be added, allowing you to buy
Agonized Essencewhich is important to infuse your rings
- Recursive Resourcing: more loot from Fractal encryptions, and mist potion conversion is better
- Mistlock Singularities: even better mist potion conversion, and more importantly this allows you to use the Mistlock Singularity, which instead of causing a downstate, will heal you by 25% of your health once per fight when active. The singularity also resets your skill cooldowns when interacting with it, allowing players to pre-stack (applying damage-enhancing effects and boons) before a boss encounter in high-tier Fractals
Account Augmentations are permanent account improvements for Fractals that will make your character significantly stronger in Fractals. There are four different augmentations, with each having four tiers to upgrade through:
Fractal Empowerment 1: gain an extra Writ of Tyrian Masteryfrom the final chest of every Fractal for a total of 4x Writ of Tyrian Mastery Karmic Retribution 1: gain extra Karma from the final chest of every Fractal Agony Impedance 1: each tier grants +5 Agony Resistance for a total of +20 Agony Resistance. This does require a personal Fractal level of 100 to purchase. Mist Attunement 1: requires tier 2 of all the former augmentations. It grants Agony Resistance, damage increase, and passive health regeneration. As well as a permanent currency increase per level and extra Fractal encryption for a total of 4 extra ones. Each level will also give a unique title, with the Fractal God/Goddess title as the final reward.
How to start
You can start Fractals immediately at level 80 because they scale really well. Just jump right into the Initiate Tier and you will almost certainly be able to clear the dailies with a party of 3-5 players, even without knowing the ins and outs of each Fractal or having elite specialization unlocked.
Discovering them yourself and coming back to look at guides with new questions is a good approach.
While you are required to have ascended items to clear high-tier Fractals, this is absolutely not a requirement to get started; in fact, Fractals are a great way to obtain this end-game gear. You preferably want to start with exotic gear to perform well.
Starter exotic gear can be obtained through a variety of sources but the cheapest and most common route is farming Verdant Brink meta event for stat selectable gearboxes, while Runes and Sigils can be bought on the Trading Post, or crafted. After 2-4 (depending on your participation level) Verdant Brink meta events, you should be able to gain an entire set of armor.
Alternatively, you can purchase exotic armor sets with Berserker’s stats for a total of 252000 Karma in Orr, near Cathedral of Silence .
If you have a bit of spare gold you can also purchase gear directly from the Trading Post, but that can very quickly dry your wallet, especially since expansion stat types can be very expensive.
Ascended Trinkets are often easier to obtain than their exotic counterparts. These can be farmed using Living World Season 3 and 4 currencies.
Exotic gear will have slightly lower stats than their ascended counterparts, but this difference won’t affect your performance very much. While you’re learning, you don’t need to focus on optimizing your gear. Instead, be creative! For example, if you are running a power build you can use cheap
Don’t worry if this sounds overwhelming, you don’t need to stress about the specifics of crit-capping, or maximizing condition duration, at this point getting “good enough” gear and becoming familiar with the encounters is much more important. Remember that at low-tier fractals, everyone is learning, not only you.
Start slowly learning your class, then focus on learning mechanics, finally you can work on upgrading your gear and climbing the Fractal tiers.
Fractal builds require high adaptability because of the many different Fractal-specific mechanics as well as the different Fractal Instabilities. This means that you will quite often find yourself switching out one or two skills to provide extra utility to your party, for example
All classes are playable in Fractals, but some builds and roles are easier to pick up than others or offer more flexibility. Check the list below for some builds commonly considered to be easier for new players, or simply browse through our builds to find something that suits your gameplay and class. Most Raid and Strike builds will be the same as your Fractal builds!
Dagger & Axe
Sword & Axe
Fractals are usually part of the daily routine for most players who enjoy instanced content. Especially at high-tier Fractals, players want to clear dailies fast and move on with their other goals. This leads to the expectation of knowing mechanics and common strategies to clear each Fractal efficiently.
Not unlike other game modes, playing at higher Tiers will lead to a more “competitive” approach, and if you won’t meet the requirements set in LFG (Looking for Group), you might encounter a certain level of “unwelcoming”.
You shouldn’t be discouraged by it, just takes a few steps back, and read a guide again, maybe there is something that you missed, or simply ask other players for help and advice! You will quickly know how to adjust your own skill level to expectations in LFG and how to choose a group that will match your own expectations.
To do high-tier Fractals efficiently you will need to improve your understanding of game mechanics and improve your gameplay little by little. Even though you can learn by experience very easily, you can also read through our Fractal Guides and get to know each map even better than some of those experienced players!
Remember that most mechanics in Fractals are avoidable and the ‘top’ groups don’t even run with a healer, in order to clear Fractals even faster. A large part of improving will be to play the game consciously, trying to mitigate damage through positioning and general awareness of enemy attacks. Always analyze what is happening and what has happened, why did you go downstate and how could you prevent that next time?
As a new player to Fractals, it might be daunting to ask experienced players for help in low-tier Fractals, but by just asking you will almost certainly find someone to show you the ropes.
Having said that, you should always play for whatever goal you set yourself – be it the joy of playing the game, or the fun of improving.
Note: You might find other instanced content guides useful, especially when it comes to improving your gameplay, as those game modes have a lot in common.
Goals and progress
If you want to get the most from Fractals, be that rewards-wise or simply experiencing high-level gameplay, you will want to set yourself some goals in order to improve. Your own skill level will always be the highest factor when it comes to your performance, but specifically in Fractals, there are some external sources that will make you stronger, or gameplay easier or faster.
As already mentioned, your first goals should be getting a set of ascended gear and infusing it to get at least 150 Agony Resistance in order to be able to play Tier 4 Fractals and Challenge Mode Fractals.
Another very important part of higher-tier Fractals will be always using
Obtaining infinite potions is a great first long-term goal, as these significantly improve your performance, and having Infinite potions in your inventory offers additional Quality of Life improvement; potions automatically apply buffs when you interact with Mistlock Singularity, for example.
You can buy the set of 3 Infinite potions for a total of 18000
Party Composition and “meta”
Expert/Master Tier Fractals will slowly become more difficult although still being clearable without good party composition. In most cases, that difficulty will be caused by bad boon uptimes, not having
Boons are the single most important factor in party composition. They enable you and your party members to deal more damage, and to take less damage, while also making some mechanics irrelevant, or easier to overcome. A group without proper boons will have a much harder time clearing any content.
Four key boons that are critical to endgame PvE damage:
Might: Increases outgoing damage. This caps at 25 stacks. Adding 750 power and condition damage! Quickness: Shortens cast times by 50%. Fury: Increases critical chance by 20%. Power builds are designed to “crit cap” (to have a 100% critical hit chance). Alacrity: Increases skill recharge rate by 25%.
A party is designed to maintain these boons on all players at all times. This is why you’ll often see high-level parties look for specific roles – they’re looking for a player to cover one or more of these boons.
The above-mentioned damage-enhancing boons do not negate the importance of other ones. Especially defensive boons which help out tremendously with damage mitigation.
Crowd Control (CC) is another aspect you should look at in your party composition, but it will usually be more of a personal responsibility connected to a specific role/profession.
Having hard CC (eg. Knockback, Launch, Daze, Pull, etc) allows you to easily break the defiance bar of a boss. This will stop most bosses from attacking for a couple of seconds and causes them to gain
Advanced role compression
To maximize damage, players will often “compress” roles. For example, healers will usually provide most boons, allowing for some fully focused DPS players, and fewer offensive support classes.
The boon DPS that are brought are typically builds which maintain moderate DPS at the same time as providing their assigned boon.
Find a group
Fractals are the entry to end-game PvE content, thus just opening the in-game LFG tool, going to Fractals of the Mists, and advertising your own group as “Daily T1 Fractals first time” is a great way to start out and get your first clears.
Finding the perfect composition isn’t necessary until reaching Expert/Master Tiers, so don’t worry about that!
Our Fractal Guides offer a great overview of general strategies and mechanics. If you encounter something that kills you but you aren’t sure what it was, guides will be a great place to find this out, and how to counteract it in the future!
Good luck on your journey through the mists!