The Flame & Frost arc in Guild Wars 2 is capped off this month with May being split in to two parts. The first part revolves around the attack on the Molten Weapons Facilities (plural) with a 5-man dungeon and a finale to revolve around a celebration of burning stuff in the city streets. Then the second half of May is… absent Flame & Frost? The dungeon, being a dungeon and not soloable, is only available for the first half of May, and this has caused a little inferno of rage from many.
Regarding it being a dungeon, Jeromai covers the inclusivity aspect of the Guild Wars 2 activity du jour. He does it with science, and I tend to agree with my personal experience below. ArenaNet’s response is that they like people playing together. Regarding the time-limited aspect, while I do enjoy ArenaNet’s monthly focuses, two weeks just seems… scant. People have been crying for new fractals, zones, events, etc. since last year, and the biggest piece of story content this year is a dungeon that will go away. In fact it’s all going to go away on May 12th it seems since players will no longer be able to earn achievements from previous chapters of Flame & Frost. May 16th is when the city guards tell people to stop throwing stuff on the bonfires and go home. The war is won.
Anyway, the dungeon itself. Let’s talk about that.
I joined a random pick-up-group, delighted to have haphazardly joined two members of my mega-guild (who were unfortunately from different houses). We took two more having a group of two mesmers, a guardian, a thief, and my necromantic self. Definitely not the current dungeon-running meta of all ‘zerkers, all day. I would say we were about as slap dash as possible. And we beat it, but not without difficulty.
The dungeon is built around three mechanics: Don’t stand in it. Jump over it. And dodge it. In fact, if players haven’t already learned these mechanics from the Molten Alliance “lieutenants” in the dungeon (elite/silver rank mobs), the Thermal Core mid-session boss makes sure that all players have the dance moves. This boss is basically a room with 4 stages. The first three stages in random order will throw the mechanics at players one at a time followed by the 4th stage which just combines everything for fun. Flame circles fill up half the room; don’t stand it. Ground pounders send out shockwaves in the corners of the room; jump over it. Flame elemental bullets race across the room as a hole-filled wall; dodge it (and use the room’s centerpiece as cover). It was a frenetic boss fight with no rest. In fact, players are given a stress debuff just to keep them in combat the whole time. I had a blast. It was so active it was beautiful.
The trash of the dungeon was well paced, but I will say that it became a little long in the prisoner area. The first part is great as players mine through the dungeon facing random packets of the underworld denizens, such as oozes and embers. After the Thermal Core mid-session boss, the corridor has a neat mechanic of chilling players as they fight the trash. It is advised that 1-2 players focus on the machine that is hitting players with the chill, but regardless, this trash section last just long enough. The corridor finally leads to the freeing of 10 prisoners, which are each guarded by a swath of veterans and elite (silver) rank mobs. In my opinion 5 prisoners would have been a better pace, but it is nice that the prisoners, being norn and charr, choose to fight with the players. Necromancers fully understand the beauty of fighting higher-rank mobs with a crowd of meatshields mucking up the battlefield.
This leads to the boss battle of the dungeon, which was the first thing that ArenaNet designed for this dungeon. In the boss battle players have to fight a mech’d-out dredge Molten Firestorm and a fusion’d out Flame Legion Molten Berserker. Remember all the mechanics that this dungeon capitalizes on? Well the boss battle throws them at players in spades. For the first phase, both bosses are creating chaos on the battlefield, and they react to each other’s health stages by going berserk (taking/dealing double damage). When one dies, the other decides to assume the dead one’s power heading into final phase of the fight. So choose wisely which you want to kill first.
My own experience was rough as our group was hit with disconnects and a pretty bad bug where the two bosses failed to appear (likely coupled with someone being disconnected). We had to run the whole dungeon twice to get it done. The guardian (main disconnecter) was really good, but our dear mesmer didn’t understand the whole “keep moving and jumping”-aspect of the dungeon. After we finally got the final bosses to appear and took down the Molten Firestorm, our thief just went AFK. Indefinitely. We wiped on the Molten Berserker trying to rally the dear mesmer and AFK thief.
Three of us valiantly then took on the Molten Berserker praying that someone else would return. Our dear mesmer went down quite quick. Our pro mesmer (sporting a glowy fractals backpiece) and I range-swap tanked the Molten Berserker who gave us significant breathing space doing his flame circle ultimate, which has a build up for us to run away. I will say that two-manning a Legendary mob was a long process. Our guardian popped in near the end of the fight and learned the Molten Berserker’s mechanics pretty quickly. Her brief and brutal learning period messed up our two-man rhythm considerably, but we finally took the berserker down.
The dungeon was great except for one part. Why were we there? Braham and Rox, who love to send players love letters basically ignored us throughout the dungeon. They took dirt naps the entire boss fight, waking up when the chest appeared, and did not mention once that if not for the players, they actually would have been smears across the boss platform. It was just ‘okay then… that was something, let’s go get explosives’. If ArenaNet wants to make the Living Story personal, they need to learn to address players in the cut scenes or active dialogues. I will say that The Hatchery instance is pretty good in this regards. However for the norm, allowing the players to be wallflowers and then scuttle out of the shadows to ask questions doesn’t count. Again, the letters are nice (especially telling players where to go), but there is a huge disconnect between the active story during that time.
End spoiler alert: I went and talked to a few prisoners in the Black Citadel stockades afterwards (required for a Rox cutscene), and it seems like this is only the beginning of… something. The Flame Legion prisoner seemed to imply that the free people’s fighting the dragons was a waste of time, which the Molten Alliance was not concerned with. It was in fact preferred that we focused our attention on the dragons. The dredge prisoner mentioned that some shady, fast-talking city-slicker brokered the alliance between the dredge and the Flame Legion. The dredge felt the Flame Legion had access to good power sources, which was their reason for allying. Finally, the whole frost aspect is a little questionable. Is it that the Molten Alliance rallied beneath the Shiverpeaks? The Molten Berserker was powered by “blue”, and his tonic takes 50 molten lodestones and 50 glacial lodestones. The Molten Alliance seemed wrapped up in lava and fire, but perhaps there was another side that we simply did not see.
Molten Weapons Facility is easy enough to be handled by a pick-up-group, but it is still dungeon content requiring a team effort. Hopefully if we only get this content for two weeks ArenaNet feels like they are in full post-launch content production mode. Regardless, the Molten Weapons Facility is worth checking out, if only for a short time. Given that small duration, the focus of the entire community will likely be there.