Generally regarded as the best World of Warcraft expansion, Wrath of the Lich King takes the fight to Arthas, the Lich King. One of the most iconic and greatest Warcraft villains of all time, adventuring through Northrend is a memorable experience that holds fond memories in our hearts. With classic Wrath of the Lich King all but confirmed, we wanted to prepare for its arrival by ranking all the expansion’s dungeons from worst to best.
As always, the list is entirely formed from my own opinion. You may agree, you’ll probably disagree; just make sure you sound off in the comments below. Let’s get to it!
The Violet Hold is one of the more simple Wrath of the Lich King dungeons. Taking place in a Dalaran jail, players will encounter waves of enemies beholden to the blue dragonflight. The first two bosses are randomized captives, with the final boss being the dragon Cynigosa.
For those familiar with Black Moras, The Burning Crusade dungeon, it’s extremely similar: you’re fighting waves of enemies that spawn at pre-set times before encountering the bosses. It’s a neat idea in practice and one that is improved upon with Violet Hold, but it still gets really stale really fast.
Staying in the same environment constantly without moving lowkey sucks.
It’s important to note that from this point forward, there are no bad dungeons in Wrath of the Lich King. With that being said, The Oculus is the most polarizing dungeon in the game.
The dungeon is unique in it involves a crash course in learning vehicle combat. Players will have to mount drakes that have specific abilities as they traverse through the instance.
It’s a unique and original idea where your enjoyment is entirely dependent on your group.
Trial of the Champion
Another controversial Wrath of the Lich King dungeon, and raid as well, involve the Argent Tournament. Trial of the Champion, the 5-person instance released in Patch 3.2, takes place entirely in one room and features zero trash.
Trial of the Champion is the definition of short but sweet: a dungeon that features interesting and varied encounters without taking too long to complete. It lacks the punch compared to other dungeons, however.
The once-proud kingdom of the nerubians has (mostly) fallen to the Scourge. The invasion of The Lich King’s forces is a very common theme in Wrath of the Lich King. It’s a delight to see that narrative be included in the game’s dungeons.
Again, as I mentioned earlier, there are no bad dungeons in Wrath other than Violet Hold. Azjol-Nerub does a great job presenting larger-than-life bosses and delivering memorable encounters.
The Hadronox fight in particular sees players stumbling upon a battlefield between the nerubians and Scourge. Still, compared to the other dungeons on the list, I have to give them the edge.
Halls of Stone
Located within Ulduar, the Halls of Stone isn’t the first Titan complex players have encountered in World of Warcraft. We’ve come a long way since the days of Uldaman; Brann Bronzebear himself accompanies us as we explore deeper.
Halls of Stone is notable in Warcraft lore for having the first in-game mention of the Curse of Flesh. The dungeon itself is beautifully designed and does an excellent job of reminding players of the history that can be discovered in Northrend. The encounters, however, aren’t as memorable.
It wouldn’t be World of Warcraft without a Troll instance. Gundrak is the Wrath of the Lich King dungeon that fits that bill. The capital of Zul’Drak, the instance is filled with citizens of the Drakkari Empire.
If you’ve played through a Troll instance in WoW before, you’ll know what to expect here: packs of Trolls with a make-up of a variety of classes and bosses that take the form of their loa.
Gundrak is an example of a comfortable theme that continues to be done well. It’s not new or exciting, but you’re perfectly content to kill some more Trolls for loot.
Like Azjol Nerub, Drak’Tharon Keep tells the story of the Scourge invasion. The local Drakkari Trolls have been overrun by The Lich King’s forces. It combines the best of both worlds between scourge and Troll flair, resulting in gorgeous architecture, varied environments, and memorable encounters.
One minute you’re battling undead forces and a Lich and then all of a sudden you’re doing battle against a gigantic devilsaur. Troll instances have always been a hit in World of Warcraft. Combining that flavor with the forces of the undead results in a resounding success.
Halls of Lightning
Like the Halls of Stone, Halls of Lightning takes place in the Titan complex of Ulduar. It is the home to Loken, a corrupted titan keeper under the influence of Yogg-Saron. From here, Loken is creating an army for the Old God. Naturally, it’s up to us to stop him.
The Wrath of the Lich King dungeon takes us through yet another beautiful environment, doing battle directly with Loken and his minions. It’s yet another enjoyable journey through an instance rich with lore and enjoyable encounters.
Fun fact: at the start of Wrath of the Lich King, Loken was the NPC that killed the most players!
One of the first dungeons players encounter in Wrath of the Lich King, Utgarde Keep was a wonderful entry into Northrend. It was clear that not only were players no longer in Outland, they were traversing long-forgotten lands.
From the Great Forge, the Protodragon pens, and the finale against Ingvar the Plunderer, Utgarde Keep made it clear that we were ready for a brand-new experience with this expansion.
I will always have a soft spot for The Nexus. Its open layout, gorgeous environments, and unique design result in an experience normally seen in a raid environment. This Wrath of the Lich King dungeon offers a whopping five encounters. Each one has its own unique feel to them and the first four can be done in a non-linear order.
The ultimate boss is Keristrasza, whose story plays out beautifully during questing in the Borean Tundra zone.
What makes The Nexus so enjoyable is that each encounter packs a punch in a simple yet effective way. Bosses aren’t overbearingly difficult or cumbersome. Instead, they allow players to perform well as they complete the encounter’s mechanics.
The only thing that holds Utgarde Pinnacle back is a somewhat weak second boss. The Trophy Hall encounter, headlined by Gortook Palehoof, feels like one of the easier bosses in the expansion. So then why is this Wrath of the Lich King dungeon ranked so highly? Because of everything else it offers.
From the “ascension” of Svala Sorrowgrave from The Lich King, the gauntlet encounter against Skadi (and that rare mount drop, too!), to the finale against King Ymiron, Utgarde Pinnacle delivers. It’s an experience indicative of its status as a max-level dungeon in Wrath of the Lich King, offering enjoyable boss fights and a satisfactory challenge.
Forge of Souls
The Forge of Souls is one of three dungeons released in Patch 3.3 at the end of Wrath of the Lich King. As part of the “The Frozen Halls” hub, these tree dungeons helped tell the story leading up to the opening of the Icecrown Citadel raid.
As a dungeon itself, Forge of Souls is short but sweet, taking the battle to the Scourge forces directly. The goal is to disrupt soul grinders and weaken The Lich King’s forces.
As it turns out, the soul grinders were built to extract the world-soul of Azeroth herself and assist The Jailer and his plans, one of the few cool and enjoyable moments in Shadlands lore.
As for the dungeon within Wrath of the Lich King specifically, Forge of Souls delivers a satisfying experience and helps lay the foundation of three successful post-launch dungeons leading up to the expansions’ final raid. The two bosses offer the perfect amount of complexity for a five-person dungeon experience.
Pit of Saron
The Second of the three Wrath of the Lich King dungeons released in Patch 3.3 is Pit of Saron. Players dive into an active dig site alongside Jaina Proudmoore or Sylvanas Windrunner depending on your faction. Like Forge of Souls, Pit of Saron offers boss encounters, upping the ante with a total of three bosses instead of two.
The action feels fast and furious as players progress their way through the dungeon. Blizzard is at the top of their design with the Frozen Halls, and Pit of Saron is a great example of that.
Culling of Stratholme
Stratholme is an iconic place in Warcraft history. It’s a town that Arthas infamously purged in an effort to fight off the Scourge’s plague. It is where he walked down a path from where there was no return, shunning both Uther and Jaina in the process.
Before Wrath of the Lich King, Straholme was a two-part dungeon that launched in the original World of Warcraft. With Wrath, the dungeon was a part of the Caverns of Time hub, allowing players to travel back to those infamous events in Azeroth’s history.
Culling of Stratholme is an example of how to correctly do a wave-based dungeon. Players are tasked with purging the Scourge from the dungeon while also fending off waves of infinite dragonflight enemies.
Traversing through the streets of Stratholme is a delight, as is racing against the clock. It’s an iconic moment of Warcraft history done right.
Ahn’Kahet: The Old Kingdom
Ahn’Kahet mixes three key figures in Warcraft lore: the Nerubian Empire, the Scourge, and The Old Gods. Players dive into the once glorious city to do battle against allies of The Lich King. Soon, you discover that Twilight’s Hammer has an influence as well. Servants of Yogg-Saron prepare for its return.
Everything about Ahn’Kahet clicks so well. Pacing is on point, giving the feeling of traversing deeper and deeper into the city. In terms of length, it’s not overbearingly long either and is respectful of your time.
The theming, the encounters, the design, and the dungeon’s importance to Wrath’s stories. Few dungeons are as important for what lies ahead in the expansion’s raids. It was an absolute blast to play while Timewalking and leveling in retail and it will be an absolute blast to play once again in Classic Wrath.
Halls of Reflection
The Halls of Reflection ends with players exiting Icecrown Citadel in an epic chase against The Lich King. It’s easily the most difficult Wrath of the Lich King dungeon the game offers, taking players into Arthas’ personal chambers. It’s a dungeon whose design is ahead of its time, featuring a great blend of narrative, lore, and gameplay. The only knock on the dungeon headed into Classic Wrath is that we’ll have to wait until we can play through it.
That wraps up our ranked list for every Wrath of the Lich King Dungeon. Did we nail our ranking? Should I be demoted to a junior writer role at BLG? Let me know in the comments.