Thronefast has been the shining example of the game since way back at the beginning. It’s only fitting that we use it now to check the current playability of the game as it pertains to the newly released MAP.
Up front, I’m very excited about the overall map. I am a lore aficionado and as such I love maps as they give more context to the game board we log into everyday. That said, I am not excited about the map that was released by VR in the last stream… at all. Quickly:
Way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way too much information!
I was shocked when CP discussed this in the stream. “… the actual 3d terrain of Kingsreach exists perfectly on top of this map. This is not a concepted map in an (sic) abstracted sense. It is the actual terrain of Kingsreach.”
First, the zone boundaries have been specifically delineated through the use of color blocking. The image above highlights where the color blocking was. This means, contrary to some content creators fanciful dreams, we now know where we can and cannot explore. What’s that cliff over there? Doesn’t matter, it is outside the zone line that we have already been given. There are markings on the maps showing specifically where you can zone in from, marked by dashed lines. There are, in the original map, two colors of dashed lines. One seems to mark zone lines and one seems to mark a mysterious something else we may discuss in another article.
It has been said in the past that there will be an accessible piece of Thronefast not required to log into the city zone itself to access. This was stated a long time ago and it could have changed from that time until now. The city of Thronefast itself has undergone redesigns since its stream and subsequent articles released by VR about it. But the entrance to the city had defining characteristics. It is come upon by a bridge over a steep ravine. There was a zone line into the city as you approached the gates. The current map has a very flat section of the zone of Thronefast that is marked on most of its border by areas with no terrain data. I believe this area to be the city boundaries. The second image is a guess of the city walls and the bridge over the ravine entering the city. There are no zone lines currently showing a delineation of the city of Thronefast from the zone of Thronefast, but it seems possible that there is.
TERRAIN VS. ZONE
This brings us to our first potential unknown.
Does the area that has terrain input mean we can explore it? It begs the question looking at the map and seeing places with and without terrain data. Looking at the third image, there are areas that have been highlighted that had no terrain data at all. You can see more in the areas that are locked for future expansions. So, if VR has terrain data, does that mean they expect it to be explorable? Not necessarily.
Just having terrain data only means they have spent time creating detailed terrain. This could be only for the visible terrain at the edges of the zoneline for aesthetics. There have been some overly excited fans on Youtube which won’t be named (So don’t worry, Nate) waxing rhapsodic about journeying over the mountains into another zone. This map has well defined zone-in lines which removes the mystique of finding a mountain pass into Hanggore from Thronefast.
This leads to the second unknown: is VR withholding information from this map that makes it deceptive in nature? If there are currently hidden mountain passages or tunnels through the mountains connecting zones in other ways, they may wish to hid that information. There are plenty of places where terrain data connects zones, but VR did do a pretty detailed job of giving us the zone line info on this current map.
The primary beef with this map from one point of view is that it gives away far too much information. There has been plenty of discussion of in-game maps, cartography, minimaps, and so on and those conversations get heated. This current map gives the specific outline of the zone and their specific terrain. One could say that the lengths VR has gone to recapture exploring in MMOs, climbing being first and foremost, has much less impact with this much information. If I don’t know where I can’t go, I have the possibility of one day exploring that area when my skills allow it. I believe that as the map is combed through in the next weeks, there will be more spoiled surprises of specific camp sites for mobs, possibly even high level that will be obvious by looking at the terrain data. A slightly more conceptual map would have kept more of the mystery alive. Now, it seems to be in the ICU.