I’m referring to places such as Crystal Mine, Tenet Church, Mage Tower, etc.
I love the lore, music and atmosphere of these places, but they don’t feel much different from your usual field maps and at the end of the day dungeons should be designed in a way to feel challenging, rewarding and more dangerous that other places on the world map.
1. Give new players a reason to actually explore them
There should be a story dungeon ranking system in place depending on how much you explored the place, the amount of monsters killed, how fast you killed them, how much loot you got, how many quests you finished, etc. with up-to-date rewards.
2. Give veteran players a reason to return to story dungeons
This could be achieved in a way by having to reach the highest / lowest level or simply the end of the dungeon in a certain time frame while fighting off monster scaled to your / your parties level. This can also be combined with Dimensional Collapse Point hazards for even more fun. You should be able to unlock secret levels never seen before in the main story questline for additional intrigue. The rewards should therefore also be relevant for end-game.
3. Make story dungeons feel more dangerous and rewarding
The monsters and bosses in story dungeons should be way stronger than the monsters you can meet in field maps for a more memorable experience. This should also result in better rewards from killing them compared to field map monsters.
4. More gimmicks like Valandis Room 91
This area was basically one big cutscene with a gimmick at the end that could easily kill you, if you didn’t pay attention before the last boss fight. This made the map memorable and stand out compared to other run of the mill story dungeon maps. I wouldn’t want a story dungeon full of such maps, but every once in a while changing things up before an epic boss battle is nice.
5. Some story dungeons are too long-winded
I’m talking about places like Tevhrin Stalactite Cave, Fortress of the Land and Kalejimas Prison. It feels like you’re going through uninspired looking maps with the same monsters and overly monotone quests which are stretched over way too many areas. They’re not memorable. They feel like a gaunlet of torture compared to other story dungeons which are much more dynamic and compact. As a counter-example: The Fantasy Library / Valandis Room questline is also long, but the great map and monster design as well as the breathtaking music and atmosphere, lore and gimmicks take your mind off things.