Elemental is rather unique among fantasy settings in that it takes place in a post-apocalyptic world. This truely creative choice of background means that Elemental can go in directions as of yet unexplored by the genre, instead of being the tired old elves and dwarves affair. However, a piece of background story does not mean anything if it is not backed up by the gameplay itself; for after all, our perception of the worlds contained in games arises primarily from our interaction with them. Elemental needs to play like a post-apocalyptic setting, because the idea of a magic-fueled wild west is too good to pass up (refer to my extensive Frogboy/John Wayne slashfic for a more illustrative approach to this concept).
In my opinion, there are two concepts that are primordial to creating the world Elemental truely deserves: scarcity, and a hostile world. We already know of a few game mechanics that go a long way to provide the feeling of a wild world, like the fact that on starting a game the land is a wasteland, with fertile tiles few and far between. Brad has also said that a well-equiped army will be a big deal in elemental, which means that unless a player invests heavily in metalurgy, most his armies will be running around in leather armour armed with spears. I believe that the same should apply to cities; not every settlement should have great spires of ivory, thriving marketplaces or great stone walls. Obviously, I don't mean that our empires should all be comprised of cavemen in shacks, but by limiting resources and technology, a grand metropolis or fully armoured knights will be an awesome sight to behold, and should be an indication of great power on that player's behalf.
As I said earlier, another aspect central to the a post-apocalyptic setting is the dangerous world. Exploration should be a risky affair, with scouts risking frequent and gruesome deaths at the hand of exotic creatures. No matter how big the map can get, it loses all its mystique and grandiosity once you know where everything is. The rampaging barbarian hordes are much more frightening if you don't know where they're coming from; discovering their vile capital for the first time as your army marches into their borders is an inspiring event. Another crucial element to creating a wild world is inhabiting it with creatures, a feature already clearly implemented. However, it is rather crucial that fights with such monsters be special, and quite harrowing; imagine the sense of acheivment when you have a hero strong enough, or an army numerous enough, to finally defeat that ogre that has been plaguing your kingdom from its very infancty.
But wandering monstrosities should not be the only danger the world contains, for certain reas of the world itself should be an obstacle to progression. Two other threads have dealt with this subject, one and two. The idea is that interesting and dangerous terrain not only characterises the world and the kingdoms in it, but also shapes strategic decisions; mountain fortresses should be different than desert civilisations, and crossing a thick forest is not the same as traversing a tundra. I have already mentioned it in one of the above threads, but I think it would be interesting if armies would see their numbers dwindle if they try to cross unhospitable terrain. Picture for instance the rampaging warlord, on his way to conquer a weaker kingdom lying to the south, who is presented with a problem: between him and his prey streches a great desert. Before him are three options: he can defeat the dragon guarding the only mountain pass circumnavigating the desert, try to assault his enemy's superior navy and skip the desert by sea, or he can simply send his troops forward hoping for few casualties (maybe he even has a water spell that can create rivers to provision his men).
Finally, the best part about this game is that you are given a ruined world, and your task is to tame it. I imagine that one of the pleasures of this game would be seeing prosperous cities built on what was once barren soil, while your mines excavate the mountains where the dreaded spider once lived, and magic is flown back into the world (though I imagine most people will just plop volcanos everywhere ).
So yeah, just my little love letter to Elemental. In essence, I just want the world to be interesting and epic, as is befitting a fantasy setting. I want my very own Mordor.