I was absolutely gutted when I found out that World of Warcraft didn’t have any open dungeons. No idea what I’m talking about? 18 months ago I would’ve been shocked by that but not any more. Read below:
A MMORPG dungeon zone which is not instanced, can accommodate multiple groups and perpetually exists with continually re-spawning enemies.
Yeah, I made that definition up. I couldn’t find anything online. I don’t even know if ‘open’ dungeon is a proper term or not. I just know I like them and that I miss them. Some of my favourite open dungeons include Blackburrow (EQ), City of Mist (EQ), Grieg’s End (EQ), Tomb of Mithra (DAOC), Fallen Gate (EQ2), Runnyeye (EQ2), Sanctum of the Scaleborn (EQ2).. I could pretty much list any dungeon from Everquest or Everquest 2.
Open dungeons are an amazing experience because they allow for something which no MMORPG developer can program – social interaction. Sure, it’s fun to do an instance with a group of friends but I love the challenge of competing/working with (take your pick) against other groups and the surprise of bumping into new people. They also allow for a much longer gaming session as there is often no defined ‘end’ point (ironically it also makes it easier to leave too as a group can just continue on and search for a replacement.). Some of my favourite memories are of spending hours in a dungeon, turning it inside and out and bonding with my new found comrades.
Social interaction is an important point for me. It’s truly what separates MMOs from single player games or experiences like playing Diablo 2 over Battle.net. I also play on a PvP server in Everquest 2 and the thrill of bumping into an enemy group in a dungeon and the social interactions which occur as a result are second to none.
I think it was Anarchy Online that first introduced the concept of instances and I then saw it a fair bit in Everquest 2 and, I guess in my nativity, assumed they were still used in combination with open dungeons in all MMORPGs to provide different gaming experiences. Instanced dungeons are fantastic for tailor group adventures with a driven story whilst open dungeons are fantastic fun for experience, loot and bonding (note: not bondage) sessions.
Personally I think every MMORPG should have a healthy mix of open and instanced dungeons as to provide a variety of gaming experiences. I was very disappointed to find that WoW doesn’t have any open dungeons and it’s sad for me to think that all MMOs may be leaning towards instances more now and I can’t fathom why that is. Are they easier to develop? Do players just prefer them to open dungeons? I have no idea. What do you think?