Being the avid cartographer I am, I'm using the video to focus on the map and see what there is to be seen.
First off, let me say that the transition from gameplay to map is simply brilliant. The map itself is very pretty, and I simply can't wait to go out there and explore.
Secondly, let me apologise beforehand in the case that, in the 40 or so minutes that this thread has taken me to produce, someone else has created a thread also about the map. I ensure you that at the time of the start of this one, no such other thread existed. I also apologise for the wall of text - it is a lengthy read but quite interesting.
Now, in order to make sense of Ascalon 250 years into the future, we shall have to look at the map :) Here are the snapshots I've taken:
The first thing apparent is that, in the 250 years since the defeat of the Great Destroyer, Ascalon seems to have recuperated somewhat (judging by the loss of the ash-black/gray tint, replaced by and dusty orange colouring). This suggests to me less ashen landscapes and more of a dry, desert/canyon type setting (similiar to the planet of Tattoinne if you'll pardon the crude Star Wars reference chosen - perhaps the barren areas of the Maguuma would have made for a better comparison). Since the first pictures of Ascalon with trees and rivers, we've known that we can encounter areas of partial recuperation, and one such area is in the west, where we can see a body of water and some neighbouring trees. EDIT: This body of water is shown by Photonic's overlay to be the great lake right outside Ascalon, which had turned to tar with the Searing. It seems to have recuperated well :o
The Steeleye Span is the structure initially explored in the video and is said to be a Charr fort, used as a line of defense against the Branded minions of Kralkatorrik. It is right smack bang in the middle of the Dragonbrand. EDIT: The SS seems to be located exactly where Fort Ranik used to be, suggesting that the Charr either occupied the Fort and built it up for their own purposes, or merely built over it so as to take advtange of the strategic location.
The surrounding area seems to be inhabited, or at least not abandoned, in the sense that the SS connects to roads on both sides of the Dragonbrand (I hadn't expected much in the way of civilisation on the right side of the scar, but the Soot Road proves me wrong). Also, we can see that the SS is right in the middle of the Dragonbrand and that there seems to be a path/settlement nearby by the name of Dragonwatch. EDIT: In a video, Eric Flannum travelled to Dragonwatch and explained that it's a sort of gladitorial training pit, where you can fight again PvE monsters of your choosing. If I can get download the video, I'll take screenies and psot them. To the north and south of the SS are areas named Blightwater Basin, Foulblain Expanse and Crater Rim - I imagine these to be explorable zones as we had them in GW1 (although persistent of course).
To the north of the SS, the Dragonbrand shelters another structure named Deserter Flats. Although I initially thought this to be a settlement, the stark name and the dreadful location lead me to believe that this might be an old abandoned fort that may well be used as some sort of dungeon, or something of that sort. Expect to encounter enemies in there. EDIT: The Deserter Flats seem to be the remains of Serenity Temple, corrupted and ruined by the passing of Kralkatorrik overhead.
To the west lies Ratcatcher Knoll (quite an intriguing name, possibly related to Skritt) and Tongue Rock (it seems to me that, following the upheaval of Ascalon, naming certain outstanding formations is completely sensible, in the way of Augary Rock or Anvil Rock) - possibly a high point to scout out the surrounding lands? (I expect to be able to clearly see the Dragonbrand from there.)
To my great suprise, the Pockmark Flats still remain 250+ (258?) years after the searing, now named Pockmark Rought, to the east of the Dragonbrand. The grandiose crystal embedded in that terrible place also seems to remain, and I expect it will be a big touristic point for nostalgia (I'd like to stand exactly where Cynn fumed at the caravan guards and think back... :o).
This screenshot is not of much interest, but I include it because it points out to us two more areas/settlements - Behem Gauntlet, and Gasfor- (the rest is cut off).
To the north of the Deserter Flats we have the Relliatus Canyon, which personally makes me think of Regent Valley (although I'm sure that they don't match in position if one were to attempt overlaying maps of GW1 Ascalon with these pictures). A point of incredible interest is the northern InGenium Research Facility. Going by the name, this seems to be an Asuran field lab, but it could as well be a charr base for the creation of new war technology (although I personally doubt it). The facility seems to be underground, seeing as the label is positioned over a gigantic boulder that bears no signs of built structures. EDIT: Mortai discovered that InGenium is actually an easter egg!
Anyone who had any hope there wouldn't be cultural references in GW2... yeah, kiss that one goodbye
East we find the Unbroken Expanse, which lies by a small lake and is located in an area with few crags and steppes, unlike the western flank of the Dragonbrand (this area reminds me of the harsher areas of the barren north-west of Kourna). Further east we see Degun Shun, of which I am utterly clueless except for the fact that it may have been named so by the Charr (as it bears partial resemblence to names of the central-asian/mongolian culture on which Charr society is based). By this location we see a section of map covered by fog-of-war, meaning that the dev/player has still not been around there.
Ah, now we come to the good part. As we can see, over 250 years the wall has fallen apart very much and it appears that now only the skeleton remains of its collapsed stoneworks remain, a mockery of the pride and glory it once summoned in the hearts of young Ascalonians. The Monument Grounds are the expanse of wall over which Kralkatorrik flew and they have a purple colouring about them, heavily suggesting that they may have fallen under the influence of the Dragon and his minions (judging by the association of purple to Kralkatorrik in the Manifesto video). Expect this area to be a major dungeon, perhaps even home to the Shatterer. Nearby, the Shattered Palisades are another expanse of wall, although these seem safe to traverse as there is a well-marked road leading right through them.
This road leads to Terra Carorunda, which is where the player in the video travels to in an attempt to find harpies (which have seemingly spread north from Vabbi all the way to Ascalon). From the video this area seems patchy, in the sense that it partially desolate but also home to grass. Nearby is the bleakly named Terra Combusta (the Inflamed, Burnt, Scorched Lands) near to which is a structure on the east side of the Dragonbrand (with a parallel strucutre on the west flank). The area between these structures is the Lowland Burns. Nothing is known about this place, so nothing much can be said. On the western side of the Dragonbrand, near the structure, we have a path labelled as the Kindling Bridge (which is confusing, seeing as the area under the label is a road that in no way contains a bridge but rather is just normal path on flat ground).
Lastly, on the far east of this screenshot (and I assure you this is as far as the player went with the map) we have sections of the wall that may be on fire (notice the orange colouring) and an area named the Tawny Ridge, which by location I believe to be the eastern edge of the gameworld of tyria in Guild Wars 2. To the east of this area/outpost, the map is blurry and gray, covered by fog of war in areas I believe too far to implement for the game.
And that summarises the tiny morsels that we can extract regarding Ascalon in the Age of Dragons. I hope this has been of interest to you, and happy speculation for all :o
Edit: Biz has magnificently glued the pieces of the map together so as to create a more coherent picture:
Kudos to him! Now if only some crazy lunatic would attempt to compare this piece to our post-searing maps... although I'm sure this section of the map is far to the east of the Ascalon we know, by Rin and Ascalon City (seeing as the Dragonband is in the far east of Ascalon)
Second edit: minor post only. I capped the loading screen to see what it said.
"The Charr once ruled the Blazeridge Steppes, but the rising of the Elder Dragon Kralkatorrik left a corrupted swath across the land. Now the legions contend not only against the creatures of the Dragonbrand, but against the ogres who have come down from the mountains" [kudos to MorDeCaza and Ishvara for completing the sentence about the ogres]
The point of this is that Ascalon has changed more than we've thought. Grawl are probably still around, but now there Skree Harpies from Elona and Ogres from the Shiverpeaks/Kryta inhabiting Ascalon as well :)
(Side note: the confusion regarding the precise locations of GW1 locations in this map is pretty bad; the Ghosts of Ascalon map suggests that the Dragonbrand is in the far east of Ascalon where we've never set foot and yet we can see the Pockmark Flats, and to the east of the brand noless. This means that the Dragonbrand runs down along the length of the Fort Ranik mission, which would then imply that the Deserter flats are the ruins of Fort Ranik!)
Third Edit: Photonic has done an excellent comparison/overlay:
His version shows that the Deserter Flats are not on Fort Ranik but rather on Serenity Temple, and that Steeleye Span is located right where Fort Ranik used to be! Also, the wooded area by the body of water is the southeastern tip of the Ascalon lake that had turned into tar by post-searing; looks like it's back on its feet :) The consequences of this overlay are pretty big; it means that the Dragonbrand is MUCH further west than had been though before. Kudos to Photonic :D
Fourth Edit: To streamline things, I'm making a summary, basing comparisons with the GW1 map on Photonic's overlay.
Old locations being reused:
- Fort Ranik [it is now Steeleye Span, the Charr fortress featured in the video]
- Serenity Temple [it is now Deserter Flats, a point directly on the Dragonbrand]
- Pockmark Flats [it has survived and is now called the Pockmark Rought]
- Frontier Gate [a new road through the wall, or the old one shifted west, now passes right by the old outpost and leads to the Kindling Bridge]
- Ascalon Lake [it has now recuperated; the lake has lost its tar and is again water, and even has trees nearby]
Completely new locations:
- Along the Dragonbrand
- Blightwater Basin
- Foulblain Expanse
- Hazmagic Aggregate
- Monument Grounds
- Lowland Burns
- Blightwater Basin
- West of the Dragonbrand
- Dragonwatch [gladitorial PvE training area]
- Ratcatcher Knoll
- Tongue Rock
- Relliatus Canyon
- InGenium Research Facility [it's an easter egg]
- Kindling Bridge
- Dragonwatch [gladitorial PvE training area]
- East of the Dragonbrand
- The Soot Road
- Behem Gauntlet
- Crater Rim
- Gasfor- [incomplete]
- Unbroken Expanse
- Degun Shun
- Heretic Plain
- Shattered Expanse
- Terra Carorunda
- Terra Combusta
- Tawny Ridge
- The Soot Road
Edit: Got 3 new screenies.
Comparing the bodies of water to those seen in the world map, this area is all the way up north past the wall. It includes the area Blazeridge Steppes. It's strange to see that the steppes are up here, seeing as the Blazeridge Mountains are what seperate Ascalon and the Crystal Desert (which should mean that their steppes should be south of the wall, not north). Just south of this is a smaller area with a couple more locations.
This little area has a structure which is labelled as Twin Sisters Crossing. It is called this because of the crossing of a road and one of the linear bodies of water in northern Ascalon. There are 2 more structures nearby, and inbetween these are the Splinter Hills. Unfortunately, nothing is known about this place.
This screenie shows how, unlike in GW1 where foggy (unexplored) areas of the map were blurry but resembled the areas they showed, foggy areas in GW2 show only artistic drawings of landmarks as examples of what there is to be seen there.
Fifth Edit: Joiry And Karasu have excellently provided me with 2 screens of the entire new gameworld map.
As you can see, the maps are in German, but they are still very interesting.
First of all, one can immediately see how the racial hometowns are clearly highlighted (probably for the purpose of helping those who playing the demo who have no previous knowledge of them).
A point of interest is in seeing how the 'eastern' Giant's Basin has been divided in two by the new landmass on which Divinity's Reach is located. Also we can fully see the extent of the flooding of Kryta, even reaching all the way up to Verdant Cascades to create new waterways between the old Giant's Basin and the Sea of Sorrows. It's not too much of a stretch for one to imagine humans using these canals as routes of transportation down south. We can also picture the Kodan coming down from the northern seas into the giant's basin, and on to the western shores of the Shiverpeaks, thus encountering the Norn there.
We can also see Orr fully for the first time ever :) It's further south than I would have imagined. It has the bleak brown colour palette used for the Maguuma wastes and the remains of Ascalon, suggesting a barren landscape, abandoned and decayed after years underwater, inhabited only by the dead (although I was hoping there would be some remains of algae and other aquatic life on the surface - that'd make for some interesting imagery). I'm suprised that it's landmass doesn't connect to the Steamspur Mountains (the old Southern Shiverpeaks near Droknar's Forge). That means that there's still something of a waterway connecting the old Sea of Sorrows to the expanded bodies of water that can now be seen extended throughout the Crystal Desert (thanks Palawa!)
The Crystal Desert has changed in climate, thanks to the effects of Palawa's diverting the Elon - that formerly arid area now has a lush green tone, suggesting a temperate clime and an entirely new habitat (although it's hard to imagine Zhaitan's and Palawa's undead romping around there)
Nearby, the Southern Shiverpeaks seem to have fallen in altitude (or at least lost their icy climate) as was promised us by the Ghosts of Ascalon Map, and have now become the greener, warmer Steamspur mountains. I expect this to be a hotspot for Dredge activity.
Northern Ascalon also seems to have gained new bodies of water through recuperation - in fact, it now has an interestingly-designed lake which has 3 sections branching out in different directions. I imagine something of interest to be in the middle :)
Frostgorge Sound is represented more aesthetically here (in the Ghosts of Ascalon map it always seemed bulky and ugly to me). We can imagine Jormag north of those frozen lakes, ruling his icy lands, out of reach of the players until an expansion drives us north.
That seems to be most of what I can extract from these pictures, although there is one slight anomaly I couldn't understand. What are those strange cloud-shaped outlines north of the Maguuma wastes? I can't picture them as mountains because they are simple hollow outlines... I'd appreciate any speculation that may clarify the matter :)
Edited by raminus, 19 August 2010 - 04:52 PM.