It’s hard to look at an MMORPG and imagine them without dungeons. For some people, these instances are the core of their game experience, offering challenging (well, hopefully) and rewarding group experiences that can be repeated for fun, profit, and optimal performance.
Dungeons and I have a strange history in MMOs. For me, it all depends on the game in question. There are MMOs that don’t really feature compelling or rewarding dungeons (Guild Wars 2), or make grouping up and getting into them difficult, or what have you. Yet in other games, I’ve run dungeons so many times that I could probably pathfind through each one blind. If done right, they can be really fun and offer me a chance to show off my stuff and feel like I’m part of a team.
For today’s list, I want to share with you my favorite MMO dungeons. I’m going to limit myself to one per MMO for diversity’s sake, which might make it a little challenging, but there you go!
1. City of Heroes: Office
The reusable, semi-randomized group instances in City of Heroes constituted a bulk of my play experience, since they were ideal for getting experience when getting experience was a tough slog. And out of all of the famous themed maps (sewer, cave, warehouse), I had a particular fondness for the office space.
I don’t know what it was, exactly. It always felt bizarre to be performing superheroic feats in a mundane office, traveling past copiers and water coolers on our way to beat up bad guys who — for some reason — felt like they wanted to terrorize an insurance agency. And we always got laughs from how these floor plans made no logical sense to people working there, even though they were fun to navigate.
2. WildStar: Space Madness
WildStar’s shiphand missions were creative, entertaining, and accessible instances, and I far preferred them to the “real” dungeons and raids. While most all of them were great, Space Madness earns my favorite spot for gradually causing all of the group’s characters to go bonk starking mad. Hallucinogenic drugs in the air turn enemies into goofy objects, and rainbows start shooting out of everything, and there’s a boss fight against a giant vending machine. It’s glorious.
3. Dungeons and Dragons Online: Delera’s Tomb
Back in the 2007-10 era, I was hugely into DDO. I made a Bard named Fiddyment who used a machine-gun crossbow and I loved her dearly. Went on group adventures most every night, because at that time there wasn’t much else to do in the game, and probably went through more imaginative dungeons than I ever remember. But I do recall, quite clearly, the fun of Delera’s Tomb. It was the quintessential “spooky graveyard” dungeon series, plus Gary Gygax did some of the Dungeon Master voiceover for the quests.
4. World of Warcraft: Deadmines
On one hand, picking just one dungeon out of WoW’s gigantic library of instances is daunting. On the other hand, at least for me, the choice is obvious. Ever since playing back at launch in 2004, I’ve been in love with the Goonies-inspired Deadmines (in both its old and new format). Great flow, fun setpieces, and some iconic bosses kept me coming back, as well as a chance to get that parrot pet drop that I always wanted.
5. Star Wars: The Old Republic: The Foundry
To be honest, this was one of the MMOs where I never got too heavily into the dungeon scene. They weren’t bad or anything, I usually just preferred going through the stories. But I did my fair share of time in flashpoints, and if I had to pick one, I’d go with the Foundry. Why? Because HK-47 is my favorite Star Wars character and any chance to hang out with him — even in an antagonistic setting — was welcome.
6. Final Fantasy XIV: Haukke Manor
I admit that I do have a penchant for haunted houses, especially in MMORPGs, so I guess it was inevitable that I would be drawn to Haukke Manor. It’s not exactly super-duper scary, but it’s creepy and just different enough to be interesting. There is a pretty morbid story behind it, and I’ve been told that the advanced version of the dungeon is way better. Should probably see that some day.
7. The Secret World: Hell Raised
The Secret World has generally excellent dungeons, with very little in the way of trash mobs but plenty of visual wonders to witness and tough-as-nails bosses to fight. And you even get to go to Hell — twice! TSW’s Hell is this industrial horror landscape, even though it’s supposed to be a sanctuary of sorts too. In between our group getting our butts kicked by the Machine Tyrant for the 50th time, I always was scoping out the eerie map — which was made by sewn-together human flesh.
8. Lord of the Rings Online: Trouble in Tuckborough
For all I’ve played LOTRO, I’ve hardly ever gone into full-fledged dungeons. No one seems to use the group finder for them and my kinships don’t seem preoccupied with running them. So instead, most of my instance time in the game was spent in solo and group skirmishes. These were clever small-scale dungeons that offered interesting stories, difficulty settings, and mechanics, such as Trouble in Tuckborough’s reclaiming of a key Hobbit town from nasty bandits. It’s a shame the devs stopped making new skirmishes after Mirkwood, honestly.
9. Fallen Earth: Kingman Prison
Here’s a dungeon that I only ran, I think, twice, but it was definitely one of the most memorable experiences I had in that post-apocalyptic MMO. Kingman Prison is this huge, sprawling, and highly defended jail that you can clean out if you have the talent, gear, and (most importantly) bodyguards on your side. Prisons make great dungeon settings, and this one had a lot to see and do as you fought your way to the gang boss who ran the place.
10. RIFT: Realm of the Fae
Looking for an MMO that offers a great dungeon experience? Seriously, you should check out RIFT. Lots of instances, lots of loot, nice variety, and a looking for group tool that works splendidly. I ran so, so many dungeons in this game, but I was always partial to Realm of the Fae for its theme of traversing the four seasons (spring, summer, autumn, winter) as you progressed through it.