Perfect Ten: My favorite MMO dungeons


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.

Everyone likes a good list, and we are no different! Perfect Ten takes an MMO topic and divvies it up into 10 delicious, entertaining, and often informative segments for your snacking pleasure. Got a good idea for a list? Email us at or with the subject line “Perfect Ten.”
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Jeffery Witman

The Vale in DDO was full of fun dungeons. The heavy metal themed names, the ridiculous quest rewards/assembly components, and the big raid at the end of it were amazing. And they had to be, because you had to run them all over and over and over again if you wanted a greensteel customized weapon (and you did).

Of all of them, however, Rainbow In The Dark was the very best dungeon. It has everything you look for in a good crawl, including good story.


Deadmines <3

Sean McCoy

My top 5 would probably include: The original Stratholme from WoW (those timed runs!), The Great Gubal Library (either difficulty), The Wretched Eye (Destiny) – Pretty challenging for newer players and actually takes some effort, The Keeper of the Lake (FFXIV), and finally I’d say False Emporer (SWTOR)…because Malgus.

Giannis Papadopoulos

I ve just realized that beside wow and ffxiv i have not experience of other MMO dungeons even if I played them all less or more…

I guess this is because when i played other MMOs was to “escape” from wow/ffxiv heavy group playstyle and relax doing solo things and smell the flowers…

On topic now, i will say whats my best dungeon ever (from my little experience): Blackrock depths. It is huge and epic… this is the epitome of dumgeons… this is how dungeons should be..

Zen Dadaist

Hrm. I think all my of top 10 would be TSW! (Favourite: The Facility NM. Most hated: The Facility NM.) Though, that is a touch unfair because Rift has a couple of fun places too. (Kondraum’s liver has gone rogue and is trying to take over the plane of water? Well, why wouldn’t it!) That is, assuming the modern definition of dungeon, being a single-group-instanced place wherein you progress linearly from non-respawning boss to boss via trash mobs, and is considered complete upon the death of the final boss which is usually a degree beefier than the other bosses.

Older games’ dungeons are somewhat different: they might only instance when too many group are squeezed into one, they have fully respawning everything given enough time, and they aren’t necessarily linear and you can run round going after different bosses in different orders in their dead end lairs. (Temple of Three Winds/Train Wrecks, anyone?) They probably shouldn’t be counted for this :p


I can’t believe that Darkness Falls from DAoC was left off any list…Noobs!

Kickstarter Donor

LOVED that one.

Dolnor .

You beat me to mention of Darkness Falls. Not only was it a bad-ass dungeon, with high level mobs at the end, but it also changed hands to another realm if the balance of Castles & Towers in Frontiers shifted. That alone added an extra layer to an already outstanding dungeon! -)


Malcolm Swoboda

Realm of the Fae will always have a special place in my heart. It did its job well, and I’m not even so partial to ‘fae’ themed content.


Ah, well. For me there will always be SWTOR’s Eternity Vault. It is an Operation. The first, in fact. And while now it is nothing more than a faceroll, in those early days was a difficult and incredibly satisfying experience.

Here, let me show you, literally. The following is in french, but the sights and sounds are captured perfectly. The music, while not exactly the music heard in the OP, conveys that feeling of heroism that was felt by each and all.

Without further ado, I give you Eternity Vault. The first, the simplest, but the most fun dungeon/OP I’ve run in many years.


I’ve been playing BDO exclusively for over a year now. I can happily say that in that time frame I have run exactly ZERO dungeons & I don’t miss them one bit :)

Loyal Patron

I have trouble thinking of a single group dungeon that has ever made a massive impact on me as a player. I’ve played through 10’s of thousands of them over the course of the last 18 years, and I can’t think of a single one where I could say, “that was amazing!”.

Many of the non-dungeons in TSW were quite amazing. Like the demolition dungeons, or the mission in the car park where all you have is a flash light. But those were all solo play, and couldn’t possibly be done in a group situation. That which made them great, also prevents them from being used in group play.

I think part of the issue is monotony. With group play, you can’t use really creepy atmosphere involving sneaking past enemies, or a myriad of other tricks that really make a psychological impact on players. Instead you have to develop to the “lowest common denominator”, ie not all groups are created equal, and you have to make the content simple enough to figure out and navigate that it doesn’t turn players away.

Imagine, if you will, an entire dungeon filled with fights to the difficulty of dark souls. Where every single fight is a fight for your life. Trash is a real issue, and you are constantly dodging massive attacks that would decapitate you in a single swing. In a murky cave with clouds of vapor swirling around, the only light is from your torch, which barely pierces the darkness surrounding you. At any moment you could fall into a massive unseen chasm that looms right in front of you, but is just out of the reach of your minimal light. Monsters skitter around just out of sight, but you can hear the clicking of their claws on the floor.

Now that’s atmosphere. But you can’t have that type of game play in an MMORPG. At least not in a group situation.

The best I could say for an MMORPG to break up to monotony of the game would be to make randomized spawn locations for all of the monsters inside a dungeon. Also have the monsters roam around randomly. This way every time you repeat a dungeon, it’s not exactly the same experience every time.