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10 best dungeons in the Final Fantasy franchise

Not all Final Fantasy dungeons are frustrating. Though some of these are long, they are among the best of all time (Image via Square Enix)
Not all Final Fantasy dungeons are frustrating. Though some of these are long, they are among the best of all time (Image via Square Enix)

Final Fantasy as a franchise has a wide variety of unique dungeons. From undead trains, factories, mountains, and caves, there’s no shortage of interesting places to do battle. Some are memorable for the design, the challenge, or simply for a story element that has ingrained itself in players' minds for years.

Which are the best and most memorable Final Fantasy dungeons of all time? As with all lists, this reflects the opinions of the writer, and the popularity of these dungeons vary from player to player.


A look at the criteria for listing Final Fantasy’s best dungeons

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Any of the Final Fantasy dungeons that exist in the games were eligible for this list, but the writer opted to omit the MMO dungeons. There are simply too many great dungeons across Final Fantasy XIV, so that will become its own list.

These particular dungeons all made the list for one reason or another. It is a combination of storyline reasons, the actual design of the dungeon, the difficulty or how they affect the gameplay as a whole. Not all of the dungeons are “traditional” dungeons either. Some are a unique series of encounters.

Top 10 best dungeons

  • The Tower of Mirage (FFI)
  • SKy Fortress Bahamut (FFXII)
  • Costlemark Tower (FFXV)
  • Balamb Garden vs. Galbadia Garden (FFVIII)
  • Festival of the Hunt (FFIX)
  • Zanarkand (FFX)
  • Interdimensional Rift (FFV)
  • Memoria (FFIX)
  • Kefka’s Tower (FFVI)
  • Lunar Subterrane (FFIV)

Quite a few dungeons almost made this list. Final Fantasy VI’s Imperial Magitek Factory, the Shinra building in FFVII or FFVII’s Northern Crater. There are just too many that almost made it.


10) The Tower of Mirage (FFI)

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The Tower of Mirage, in this instance, also includes the Sky Fortress where Tiamat awaits. The two dungeons are linked together and are also completed together, so it made sense to include them as one package. Hidden in the Yahnikurm Desert, it can only be accessed via the “Chime” key item.

It’s a fascinating tower, and though it looks incredibly ancient, it is filled with ancient machines from the Lufenian civilization. It’s a change of pace for the game too because it’s a major dungeon that does not follow one particular elemental affinity in particular.

Upon going up a few floors, players then use the Warp Cube to head to the Flying Fortress and do battle with the fiend Tiamat. It’s a hovering, futuristic marvel, and another genuine change of pace for the game. It’s also the home to the game’s optional superboss, Warmech. Not an especially challenging dungeon, it has great esthetics, a small maze, and a very important boss to battle.


9) Sky Fortress Bahamut (FFXII)

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Archadia's ultimate airship, the Lord of the Sky, was created by Dr. Cid himself. The final dungeon of Final Fantasy XII, it’s fitting that it would be in the sky, given how much of the game’s focus is on powerful airships and sky pirates. It’s such a massive fortress that the map for the area is a sketch of the Sky Fortress, and it gives a rough estimate of where the player is.

It’s a place that the player could not have possibly scouted, so this makes sense, being a really cool addition to the game as well. All of Vayne’s plans culminate in this massive area, and it’s up to the resistance to deal with him, once and for all.

Final Fantasy XII may not be one of the most popular games in the franchise, but battling Vayne across a massive sky fortress, then The Undying, is a memorable and epic experience.


8) Costlemark Tower (FFXV)

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Honestly, there were so many Final Fantasy XV dungeons that could have made it here. The game has some truly exceptional set-pieces when it comes to exploration and dungeon-crawling. However, it’s an optional dungeon and is in Fallgrove. A Royal Arm awaits here, and it’s also the place where Dino’s final sidequest takes place.

A labyrinthian series of ruins, it can be tackled relatively easily thanks to the Ring of Lucii. The challenge of navigating these decayed ruins is hightened since it's filled with incredibly powerful monsters.

It is also a dungeon that can only be accessed at night, making it a fascinating find. Though it is a tower, the actual dungeon is found underground, sinking into the earth instead of rising high into the sky.


7) Balamb Garden vs. Galbadia Garden (FFVIII)

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The Garden Clash in Final Fantasy VIII may be the most unique dungeon on this list. Instead of players traveling into a dungeon, or getting on a train or wandering into a volcano, two cities clash with one another.

The Gardens are mobile cities that double as military training facilities, and Balamb Garden, Squall’s home, clashed with Galbadia Garden.

Players get to choose how they give orders to their subordinates, and it was awe-inspiring to see the two Gardens go at it. Soldiers on motorbikes jumped into action, and the party ran around doing battle with the enemy. Squall has to round up the other members of SeeD and take charge.

It’s absolute chaos, but the cutscenes are grand, and the battle versus Seifer was one of the writer’s favorites in the game. Players have a battle with Cerberus, Seifer, and Sorceress Edea, and that's just Disc 2 of 4.


6) The Festival of the Hunt (FFIX)

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The Festival of the Hunt in Final Fantasy IX is Spain’s “Running of the Bulls," but way more chaotic and violent. The church in Lindblum hosts an event where warriors from around the world come to test their mettle. Powerful monsters are let loose in town, and the warriors hunt them down.

Whoever gains the most points during this time period gets the distinction of being Master of the Hunt. Having a dungeon encounter be the whole city a player is just exploring was a fresh idea, and the party doesn’t really work together through much of it.

It was fascinating that each of the participants wanted to win, and all of them weren't working towards one goal. Plus, it has some of the best music in Final Fantasy IX.


5) Zanarkand (FFX)

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Zanarkand is supposed to be where the story of Final Fantasy X comes to an end. It was the goal of the pilgrimage: reach Zanarkand, attain the Final Summon, and defeat Sin for the next ten years. It has memorable, sorrowful music, interesting puzzles, and a pair of decent bosses.

The first boss is incredibly easy, but Yunalesca is a whole other matter. Incredibly challenging, she had three phases to go through but could be cheesed out with tactics like using Yojimbo. Exploring the ruins of Zanarkand is incredible, and the cutscenes and story revelations must be experienced.

Players learn more about Auron’s time as a living man and learn more about the hypocrisy of the Final Summon. For first-time players, they may think this is the end, but there’s still so much to do. Zanarkand was an incredible experience. It's a lengthy affair, but the story is more than worth it.


4) Interdimensional Rift (FFV)

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Speaking of long dungeons, Final Fantasy V’s Interdimensional Rift is where the game comes to an end. As the final boss awaits, so do all of its henchmen. There are many bosses in the area and players have to push through all of them. A pair of superbosses also lurk nearby, Omega and Shinryu.

Through the appearance of the Interdimensional Rift, the worlds of Final Fantasy V were brought together and merged. One of the things that makes the Rift so interesting is the wide array of challenges and boss types the players fight.

There are also several different settings, from the desert where it begins to the Dimensional Castle. Exdeath himself is also just a unique boss for the time, and is easily one of the most memorable Final Fantasy dungeons.


3) Memoria (FFIX)

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How about exploring a dungeon that was conjured from the memories of the planet itself? That sounds like something one might find in Final Fantasy VII. Memoria's origins are unknown, but it is known that the Ifa Tree is preventing the souls of people from returning to the crystal in the planet's core.

There are so many tributes to Final Fantasy I in Final Fantasy IX. From dungeon names, character references, and even here in Memoria. The four guardians of Terra await: Maliris, Tiamat, Kraken, Lich. Garland also guides the party here, and there are glowing orbs that the party can use to recover.

Memoria is also possibly the most gorgeous area in the entire game, and each area is themed after the memories of members of the party and others in the world. It’s an incredibly fascinating concept for sure. It even had spirits the player could play Tetra Master against, in a sort of comical moment.


2) Kefka’s Tower (FFVI)

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The world is in ruins, and a madman rules the planet as an angry god, raining his destruction down on anyone he wants. There’s no rhyme or reason and people get destroyed merely because Kefka wills it. To tackle the final dungeon of this game, players have to make three parties of characters and work together.

This was teased and taught all throughout Final Fantasy VI, with several multi-party encounters. The dungeon is a gross, brown mess. There’s garbage and junk from all over the world, a monument to filth. Each party has to go through several boss encounters, as well as fight the animated goddess statues.

Teamwork is essential, and so is party balance. Once all of this has been accomplished, the player finally gets to Kefka and puts their party in order, 1-12. The first four are the main party. Players fight three groups of bosses, and as each phase ends, those who die phase out and are replaced by the next in line.

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Finally, they get to Kefka, and the remaining four have to pit their will against a god. The party members discuss the ways they’ve grown as people, and what they’re fighting for, but Kefka’s not having it.

It’s one of the most satisfying final battles in Final Fantasy history. Players have to swap parties, save often, and work hard to see the world saved.


1) Lunar Subterrane (FFIV)

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Other dimensions and mystical towers are all well and good, and so is time travel. To get to the final boss of Final Fantasy IV, players take a gigantic spaceship to the moon, offer a prayer at the home of the crystals, and descend into the moon itself.

The five heroes can unlock the most powerful weapons and armor on the moon, though it comes at the cost of fighting horrific bosses.

Some could argue that the optional moon bosses are harder than Zeromus in their own ways. Wyvern opens the fight with Mega Flare for example. The Lunar Dragons have a frustratingly powerful script of attacks to harass the party with. These can all be overcome though.

The visual style of the Lunar Subterrane was gorgeous and simple, and it was very clear when the party was near the end. The ground looked like glass tiles, and players could see the core of the moon in the background. FuSoYa and Golbez work together to fight Zemus, but it isn’t enough.

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Players need the power of friendship and teamwork to save the day. The Crystal must be activated to deal with the godlike power of Zeromus, the true face of evil. The one responsible for corrupting Golbez, and setting all of the evil in the world in motion. It was perhaps the first truly epic final dungeon in the franchise. A battle so intense that it had to leave the Blue Planet to be fought.


Final Fantasy as a franchise has just so many incredible dungeons. Though some games stray away from having actual dungeons to crawl through, it’s a trope that will never truly die. Dungeons are more than just places to farm experience points and loot. They also help define the world they are a part of.

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Edited by Abu Amjad Khan
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