Cliffside Fractal is longer than most and takes around 30-35 minutes to complete. With an experienced group, it can be as little as 20. Having played with several pick-up groups, the challenge here is encouraging your party to pay attention to the basic environmental factors as well as the core mechanic of the fractal (Cultist Hammer), which I’ll explain in more detail below. Rather than horizontal progression across the fractal (like most in the Fractals of the Mists) this is all about going up, up, up!
Arriving in the fractal there will be a boss in front of you: the Legendary Archdiviner. Like most hammer wielding enemies in Guild Wars 2 he is capable of knocking you down and causing conditions. For the most part, simply keep the Archdiviner at range and burst him down. Be aware that several area of effect spells will trigger around the Archdiviner so be sure to keep an eye out for the red warning circles. When you’ve killed the Archdiviner, he will drop the Cultist Hammer.
After acquiring the Cultist Hammer, any member of the party can pick it up. Once picked up you will initially have access to three skills: a basic attack, a knockdown and a party wide bubble shield. The use of the hammer is only realised when you kill an enemy with it, unlocking a fourth skill. This skill is the only one in the fractal capable of damaging the seals that hold the Colossus in place. Unfortunately the Cultist Hammer is also corrupted with prolonged exposure when carrying it causes corruption in anyone who wields it. The corruption effects stack unless you drop the hammer, with higher stacks (30) stunning your movement and 40 resulting in your death. When you drop the hammer the corruption will fade from you, so it’s critical that you and your party share the burden. It’s best to carry the hammer up to 20 stacks at which point you should drop it, and a member of your party take over, while you lose your corruption. I should also add that if for whatever reason the hammer is bugged (this can happen if you carry it and fall off the Cliffside) your entire party will need to wipe to reset it.
Scaffolding and Environmental Effects
To gain access to the seals on the Colossus you will need to navigate a series of scaffolding that take you up the Colossus’ body. Many people consider these “minor jumping puzzles”, in reality it requires very little concentration or jumping skill; the routes are clearly defined and easily followed, with very little risk. The only thing I would recommend is that you disable dodging when double-tapping movement keys; you don’t want to throw yourself off.
In regards to environmental effects, there are three to watch out for: Spike traps, gargoyles and explosives. The former litter much of the ground where there is stone on the floor (rather than scaffolding) and look like the image below. Walking around these traps is the best way to avoid being crippled which can be incredibly annoying in the middle of a fight or as your team is trying to quickly scale the scaffolding.
The second environmental effect you need to be aware of is the wind from gargoyles. The gargoyles tend to be placed on the outer limits of the Cliffside and will blow a gust of wind at intervals which knocks you off the scaffolding and to your death. The gusts of wind are easily predicted and have a set pattern so when you do see gargoyles (the first is after the Chest seals have been broken) and hear the audio trigger (it’s a clearly defined howling-wind noise) take a few moments to learn the pattern before making your move. It’s also worth noting that dodging through the wind, using skills that make you invulnerable or that block attacks will also stop you being knocked off.
Lastly, you'll encounter explosives after destroying the Colussus' arm seals. The final path to the highest level is littered with explosives. If you trigger these you’ll be knocked all the way to the ground level so be sure to avoid them. Using Stability and Swiftness (as well as immunity skills) is also a good way of avoiding them.
The seals that bind the Colossus on his limbs need to be broken to free him, with each layer/limb being a unique encounter. The seals are easily recognisable as large gold, glowing emblems. As stated above, you must ensure you and your party utilise the hammer to break the seals as they are invulnerable to standard attacks, with the exception of the final seal.
The first twin set of seals you encounter are bound to the Colossus’ ankles. After you’ve climbed a small amount of scaffolding, you’ll reach a gantry with several Chanters sat praying. You and your party should kill these enemies quickly with the hammer to unlock the fourth skill, to then break the seals. One use of the hammer on each seal, at this stage, should be enough to break them.
After destroying the ankle seals you should make your way up some more scaffolding, arriving on another larger gantry with a greater quantity of Chanters. On this level the enemies continue to re-spawn until the seals are destroyed. The most difficult part here is avoiding the large quantities of AoE fire that reign down your party. Luckily the Colossus will blow out one of the flames but two will still burn on the gantry. Having your party continually move to the safe spots, while killing the oncoming enemies, is paramount to completing this encounter quickly. Unlike the ankles, the seals here require multiple hits to destroy so rotating the use of the hammer in your party is really important so you don’t suffer too heavily with corruption.
Probably the most difficult part of the fractal is breaking the seals on the Colossus’ arms. Unlike the other seals that are together, the arms are outstretched resulting in your party having to split. The encounter is made worse by the fact the seals can only be damaged once until they become protected with a shield. Once this happens, you will then need to run back and forth between each arm, damaging each seal at a time, until they’re destroyed. There are three potential tactics here, with some (such as the first) failing to work at higher difficulty levels:
- Split your party so that two members of it stay at each arm, with the 5th member of the party carrying the hammer back and forth. The equal split will allow your party to defend each area however you will need to ensure you rotate the hammer carrier so that one individual does not die from corruption.
- Have your party pull all the enemies away from the seals into the central corridor between the arms. This will allow your party to quickly AoE them down, but still requires one individual to run back and forth while attacking the seals.
- Have all five party members run back and forth to each arm, kill one enemy and then attack the seal. Once you’ve done this, ignoring the other enemies and running to the other arm will allow you to quickly damage the seals with little effort in keeping the enemy numbers down. I will add though that this tactic is relatively risky as you can be quickly overwhelmed, especially in parties with glass-cannon builds.
At the very top of the Colossus is another Legendary Archdiviner who will spawn a series of guards. The seal you need to destroy is surrounded by a shield (similar to the arms) and can only be damaged once you get the Archdiviners health down to 25%. After you’ve unlocked the fourth hammer skill and damaged the seal, the Archdiviner will spawn a fresh set of guards. You need to repeat this attacking process until the seal is destroyed.
It should be noted that the Archdiviner has a similar skill set to that when you first encountered him on the ground however he does have a skill which locks you in a cage. All you need to do to break out of this is to damage it as quickly as possible.
Achievement: When the seal is destroyed the Colossus will bow to the party in thanks. If you and your party wave (/wave) or bow (/bow) back to the Colossus, you’ll receive an achievement.
Please note that this guide covers all encounters and fractal difficulty changes up to level 10 only. This guide will be updated based on the author taking part in higher difficulty levels and will be expanded to include achievements.