While talking about realms i thought it would be Nice posting here some examples too...just imagine La Noscea…
When we look at it we actually see just a small, coastal area accessible…but to realms to work the best would be the entire area accessible…and here is where the multilayered areas enter. You can just assume every single area like those towers, with each layer being like a floor.
Lemme put some examples…I’ll use a map fragment that covers Iron Lake area…right now we have this map, that would stay exactly like it is…
It’s noticeable how small the accessible areas are (green areas) in comparison to inaccessible ones (grey areas). The grey areas represent elevated terrains, but that could easily be used as a different layer.
You see the iron and bronze lakes…we could easily have another lake at upper layers and maybe even some cascades linking the upper and lower lakes. We could have grottos under one of these cascades or some underwater path that leads to a dungeon area. Most of iron lake inaccessible area could turn into a brand new layer of terrain…maybe with the lakes we can have the Mythril and the Silver lakes at upper plains as a completely separated area. And by completely I really mean completely…they would have a connection path so the player can go up, but would be like going from Bearded Rock to Skull Valley…it would be a different area with different aetheryal camp, different gates, etc. This could cover these upper plains around Iron Lake, Bronze Lake, Oakwood, Zelma’s Run, etc.
This way the areas could be entirely covered and accessible, working similarly to those topographic maps, where the maps are split in areas of similar height. Also, due access difficulty (only being able to move from one to another by specific places) this wouldn’t damage the terrain quality since there would be a good spots for area loading while travelling.
I would say up to 10 layers could be used…so from height 0-10 it would be landward realm, from -10-0 it would be seaward realm and from 10-20 it would be skyward realm.
Just think in areas like O’ghomoro…it would be a magnificent area having not only a inner area similar to FFXI’s Ifrit Calderon but also having the entire external area where players can travel…and even some hamlets, bandit hideouts (where better to hide than in a cave), mines, encampments , etc.
Also, making O’ghomoro layered would also allow it to work as one of the only zones between realms since, like said at realms chapters, I would love seeing it as an area that covers multiples realms…it would be the path anyone willing to reach the skyward realm the first time would need to cross… I can imagine a path that would require a few ingame hours to cross due it’s spiral-looking, allowing a bunch of quest on the way up. Even “some” aetherial gates could be placed around there so those who already crossed the patch once would be able to return there with teleport from camp.
The realms combined with layered areas would make a so giant map that layers would have to spend a few months just travelling to have all aetherial gates. Also, it also opens the option for the exploratory content already suggested too…imagine players being able to actually start a hamlet in one of those aetherial gates…this would give space to have all servers completely different from each other since only certain key areas would be already placed at map (like Limsa Lominsa)…even though even these key cities would, eventually, being customized by their citizens.