Updated Wed, Mar 21, 2012 by Mem
Chances are you probably remember your first real raid vividly. Whether you took on Molten Core, battled through Serpentshrine, or are currently braved the new dangers presented by Dragon Soul, raiding is an experience that is not easily forgotten and will likely keep you coming back for more. This ability to draw players in and keep them has brought raiding in WoW far from its humble beginnings in Molten Core, spawning over 25 separate raid instances scattered across the various expansion packs.
Despite the thrill offered by raiding, some of these instances were far more successful than others. While many of these raid instances made us want to /headdesk every week, the truly great ones left no doubt in our minds why we continued to devote hours of our precious time each week to raiding. These latter instances are the truly stuff legends are made of and what WoW is really about. No matter how old they get, players still trek their halls from time to time for no other reason than simple nostalgia.
Considered to be the best of the best, these instances refuse to fade from memory and are sure to inspire sighs of remembrance in all who have experienced them. Below you will find five such instances. Read onward to see how these raid instances stack up against your own personal top 5!
On the edge of Shadowmoon Valley lies the Black Temple, a raid instance that literally emanates evil. As if the outside wasn’t impressive enough, once inside players will find themselves faced with one of the best raid instances in the game. A 25-man introduced in the Burning Crusade expansion Black Temple has everything a good instance should have; amazing visuals, excellent boss encounters, and a great storyline to back it all up. The cherry on top is the end boss fight as players take on the infamous Illidan Stormrage, a boss fight defiantly worth witnessing, and a chance at the legendary Warglaives that were so sought after not so long ago.
Located on the Isle of Qual’Danas, the Sunwell was introduced as a level 70 instance in Patch 2.4. Playing upon the story of the Blood Elves the Sunwell raid instance players must enter into the remains of the Sunwell, the mystical font of the Blood Elves power, to defeat the demon lord Kil’jaeden. With amazing visuals as well as some outstanding boss fights (not to mention excellent gear at the time), the Sunwell was one of the few instances that was challenging yet not so challenging that it took away from the fun aspect of the instance. While in my heart, Black Temple and Sunwell will always be a tie, the Sunwell wins out for the fourth spot thanks to its excellent textures and better overall encounters.
Still engaging and incredibly fun despite its age, Karazhan offered up some of the most original encounters ever experienced in the game. Located in the southern portion of Deadwind Pass Karazhan was introduced in the Burning Crusade expansion of WoW as a ten-man raid instance. A huge, scripted instance containing twelve boss encounters, Karazhan is one of the places in WoW where you can see the hard work of WoW developers come to life at its best. From the Opera Event with its classic fairytales come to life to the giant chess game, Karazhan is a text book example of how to make players want to experience an instance for more than the gear. Karazhan was so well thought out that even the trash mobs in this instance are interesting. Karazhan is one raid instance that I would personally love to see revamped and brought back to life.
One of the best examples of raid instance art and story development is that found inside Ulduar. An often overlook raid instance, it surprises and saddens me to see that this instance has managed to fall under the radar of many raiders. While Flame Leviathan can easily become tiresome, the remaining instance is epic in both scope and story and well worth taking a run through. Located in the Storm Peaks Ulduar is the prison of the old god Yogg-Saron and contains fourteen separate encounters, ten of which have the option of hard mode.
Ulduar does not follow a totally linear pattern allowing players to go where they please and take on bosses in almost any order they wish. Each boss fight offers a unique experience and become increasingly more difficult and fun for a raid to take on ending with some of the best boss fights WoW has ever seen in a raid instance; Yogg Saron and Algalon. So if you are into beautiful graphics and end boss fights that are sure to blow your mind head over and check out Ulduar today. Easily soloable by any level 85 player, this is one instance that every player should have experienced.
The very first raid instance taken on by most old school players was inside the Molten Core. A level 60 dungeon found inside Blackrock Mountain, Molten Core was one of the two classic 40 mans released with WoW. The pinnacle raiding achievement at the time, Molten Core offered up an impressive 10 boss fights as well as some unforgettable trash. Loot the Core Hound anyone?
While outpaced in the visual department by other instances, the encounters found inside the Molten Core ( as well as the impressiveness of taking this on with 40 individuals forever ranks Molten Core as number one in my book. As the granddaddy of all raid instances, none shall ever manage to overtake this fiery fortress. So if you haven’t had a chance to experience it for yourself head to Blackrock Mountain, descend the chain and take on the Molten Core. Get yourself a Thunderstrike and don’t forget to look through the window after Golemagg for a special treat.
Do you think the raid instances above are some of the best WoW has to offer? Be sure to share you top raid instances in the comments section below as well as what makes them stand out in your book.