During the unveiling of THE MAP several weeks ago, there has been plenty of buzz about the amount of information given in these maps and plenty have broken down what they got out of it. There has been much less information on the information NOT given: the LOCKED – Post Release zones. Do we know anything so far to be able to make assumptions about these areas?
We know one thing for sure. They are THERE. The inclusion of these is just more than appetite wetters. This map, as described by Joppa, is the actualy map of the Kingsreach game world in its entirety. This means more than you know.
Caution: Huge beans falling! It was stated by VR in a recent stream that the separation of zones in the game world, the zone line where content is generated for the next piece, is completely arbitrary. The game world terrain, in its ENTIRETY, can be streamed to the player regardless which zone you are in. So, as in an action RPG with open world map, if you see a mountain cleft way off in the distant, that is really there, even if you have to load through a couple zones to get there. Here is the quote,
“…basically removes the… forced need to show load screens… We can stream the ENTIRE WORLD around the player as they walk around… Still will have zone boundaries in terms of gameplay, but it removes the requirement for having hard zone boundaries…
This bean has enormous ramifications for the map they have shown. That means since there truly are no breaks or dead zones in the actual map where an area is, in fact, unplayable. So…
- The map we have of the entire continent is a contiguous creation of one terrain.
- The devs can literally put zone-in lines anywhere on the map they like since it is arbitrary.
In the past I have stated that part of the release of this map is a sense of lost wonder since we know where the zone lines are. This new bit of information mixed with one of JN’s older statements saying there will probably be some zone lines that are found as the game progresses that players find, means that it is no big deal to make ten zone load in spots from one zone to another since the map is contiguous and all terrain is streamed as the player moves through it. This brings back the beckon to explore the edges of the terrain, the mountain passes, the small caves that may run through the mountains. A zone line can be literally anywhere.
So, going back to THE MAP, where there is a locked zone, there is a physical terrain layer in that place at this time! That means at launch, while the content would not necessarily need to be there, the terrain data may perhaps need to be. If I can it from the top of a mountain, it needs to have terrain and populated through random generation at least by Houdini. I can not think of another game where you could actually see a zone prior to being able to access it in an MMO. That is very exciting. The other piece of the puzzle is we may be able to find out prior to the content’s release what the zone will house.
This is the real purpose for this article; to find out as much information as we can about the zones that are currently locked for player access. This will be a lot of speculation, but hopefully with some hard facts guiding them.
Dead Storm Valley (a.k.a The Burning Basin (a.k.a V’ios Daenaad for you elf nerds)
Dead Storm Valley is mentioned a couple times in the lore. There was a catastrophic event that killed a large contingency of Elven and Human harmies in the year 503IH, that’s about 17 years after the end of the Deicide War. What caused the loss is still a mystery to be solved. We have potential candidates, however. The second mention is in the tale of the Elf rogue/warrior, Thaeolyn Greyborne. She seeks out an unknown item from the leader of the Children of the Valley, called the Host of the Valley. I could dwell here for a while since it is a quite interesting topic (which rogues should most definitely look into) but let’s stick to the task at hand. The Red Maw as Thaeolyn is sometimes called, stands at the top of a cliff and spies out the land of Dead Storm Valley. It is filled with volcanic fissures, poisonous gas, tornadoes, no living plants, and obviously mountains. To the north side, it breaks into the Bethrail Strait, a piece of the larger sea that separates Kingsreach from the more northern frozen continent of Frosja Nochta. It is said the bitter winds from Frosja Nochta blow across the Bethrail Strait and mix with the hot gases from the fissures and cause immense storms that can devastate entire… you guessed it, armies. So, imagine a zone where you have constant changes in climates from toxic to frigid to scorching within relatively short distance to each other.
There are several zones on the morther coase of Kingsreach which border the Bethrail and would be directly south of Frosja Nochta. I chose this one due to its proximity to The Roans. Thaeolyn will most likely be stationed at the White Gate in the pass in the Roans leading to Faerthale. It is here where I suspect a high level quest will begin to assist her in retrieving her item from the Host of the Valley, which I believe will be raid boss level.
The Azure Isles
This may not be accurate, up front. The Azure Isles is described in the lore as being the farthest territory controlled by the Crown of Thronefast, may Avendyr’s name be cursed! Anyway, the isles may not be a zone unto themselves, but rather a part of a larger zone. Think Ocean of Tears or Erud’s Crossing where you have larger and smaller land masses in a particular zone with large bodies of water around them. The information we currently have from in-game NPC interactions is that the Azure Isles fall between Thronefast and Frosja Nochta. This would put it also near the northern side or at least the northeastern side of the continent by Thronefast itself.
The only reason I say this may not be accurate is due to the fact that none of the islands on the layered topographical map have any terrain data visible. We know that at least one Azure Island has terrain data, the isle where Fortress Deviare resides. I would expect if Fort Deviare was on one of these islands, we would see the terrain due to the nature of the map as expressed above.
The Seven Locked Door
It appears on the old map that the Seven Locked door resides on a far reaching tip of Kingsreach. There is such a location here…
Although we had it displayed on the original concept map, there really is no other information about it. Also, there is no mention of what region it may reside. It obviously seems like a dungeon inside a larger zone, but there’s no other information relative to it.
There are seven marked locations on the perimeter of Kingsreach. Whether additional higher level content like the case of The Burning Basin, or perhaps more content to chew through in lower levels like the Azure Isles, there is plenty of real estate to keep adding content to this game for years to come. Think of it this way, currently there are 10 large zones excluding the carve-out for Black Rose Keep. Adding seven beefy zones with islands and underwater content is almost doubling the size of just one continent. How many games do you know that have given you their roadmap for doubling their original continent sizes? This was a very gutsy move by VR and there should be more attention and praise given to VR for the size and location of the locked content shared with the community than there has been to date.