Much has been said about Final Fantasy's traversable world maps from FFI-IX and nowadays the topic barely appears without at least someone to suggest that a future Final Fantasy game brings back this "staple". Heck, I'm sure Tales fans have been doing this as well, and the only recent game with a world map like that I can think of is Ninokuni.
But what are you general thoughts on the world map? Should it be brought back and if not, what can work in its place? Is it feasible do you reckon for a future game to bring back this feature, or is it a bit too archaic and something Nomura might have been wise to avoid utilising back in the earlier Versus XIII days?
I don't deny that seeing the world map for the first time and walking around in it/flying over it has been a powerfully iconic moment when playing through the older Final Fantasies. Take FFVII: you've been in Midgar pretty much exclusively the whole time thus far, and all of a sudden you exit the metropolis and see that there is literally a whole new world out there. Who didn't find that breathtaking?
But, as it currently stands, I'm rather indifferent when it comes to the world map. I'm not someone who is constantly crying for its return when ever since we've seen ambitious new takes on an overworld such as Dragon Quest VIII and Xenoblade. Were someone to do their own DQVIII-like overworld (goodness knows how much of a budget you would need to make one as big as that for current gen machines...), I'd be more than happy with it. It gives you that same degree of exploration as an ordinary world map would do, but grander in terms of size and scope because you're properly scaled against your surroundings, rather than Godzilla.
I think my chief problem with the world map if applied in this day and age is the unremitting feeling that I'm wandering around what is essentially a large, empty room. I can see the world before me, but I can't shake off the feeling that it's very sparsely populated and mostly covered by nothing but mountains, forests and plains. It may be gorgeous to behold, but it's bereft of much substance to it. The chance to fly an airship across the world map is always a pleasure to do, but being able to traverse the whole map in 30 seconds or so doesn't sit right with me anymore. I think I've grown to prefer whatever style FFXIV has to offer, which is a more realistically realised overworld, and one that doesn't cover the entire world, but enough of a regionalised bit of it to provide both the scope for exploration, and yet a convincing enough population distribution so it doesn't feel like the whole world is just made up of a couple of cities and a few villages.
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