I thought a bit more about the premise of what Frogboy said, which I interprete as that: The current Elemental maps are boring, because they look boring.
(I hope I understood that right, else, big rant against a strawman incoming. )
I have to disagree heavily with that. Let's take a look at something similar, cause I'm more familiar with that, and see what makes maps their interesting: Maps in RTS, especially StarCraft.
What is a good map, or more importantly, what's the difference between maps in SC?
You have a variety of props and different styles for maps in that game to make a map pleasant looking. (Ie. rivers and roads in Elemental). The consequence for gameplay of that is pretty much zero though. Lost Temple is not such a memorable map because it has a nice look, grass, ruin props and stuff but because of the gameplay it allows.
Maps in SC are mostly defined by:
- Size of mineral and gas in the main
- Number of ramps up to your main (ie. number of access points, chokes)
- How close an expansion is and how easily it is defendable
- Other possible expansions on the map
- Routes to the enemy and number of choke points
- How close the enemy is to you and how close your allies are.
- Size of the area where you can build in
Map image taken from here. C theirs too.
This is a map of Lost Temple for SCII. Important features are, only one choke to your main base, easily defendable expansion, 2 xel naga watchtowers in the middle which give you, when occupied an increased view in it's area, 2 possible expansions with yellow crystals, which give higher income. 3 routes to the enemy, one through the middle, 2 left and right, which are slightly hidden by props that make it impossible to look through it.
What does this mean for gameplay on this map? You can wall in easily (only one access to your base) expand safely (expansion close to main and only one access too it too). Or you can expand to one of the more lucrative but more dangerous yellow crystals (for which you need to destroy a rock first to be able to build there). You can use ground attacks through the middle, or air lift troops behind the enemy bas, on higher ground, where if the enemy doesn't have air units itself, they can't fight back. Controlling those towers can give you an early alert to incoming enemy attack, so they can be important to hold or to denie them to the enemy. There are 2 expansions, top left and bottom right, which can't be reached by ground troops, so can be pretty save to expand to or flee too, or deadly traps if the enemy has air superiority. Units that can jump over cliffs can attack from all sides and air raids from all sides are dangerous too. Etc etc.
IE. this map has a lot of possibilities. And none of them have anything to do with how it looks. It's not a fun map because of it looks, but it's a fun map of how it plays.
Let's go back to Elemental then:
That's how the game always looks for me, since I play (by necessity) almost always on the cloth map. I started in the bottom left btw.
Would rivers or roads thus make an impact to me? Nope. (only if rivers were only crossable by bridges... )
What elements do we have on this map?
We have sorta 2 chokepoints, which I could seal of with building a city on top if it.
That's it. It doesn't matter where I build cities, it doesn't matter how I build cities, it doesn't matter where I station my units.
City placement only matters insofar as I want to cover all of the map with my influence, so eventually I am able to get all the resourcers on the map. Unit stationing only matters in so far, as they have to be closer to the enemy then a city of mine.
While in a game of SC, the very layout of a map makes it interesting and different, all maps in Elemental are the same, since in the end result it doesn't matter for building, for moving armies, etc. where cities and units are, as long as it is in my area of influence. Thus the maps aren't boring, because they're not graphically different enough, they are boring, because it doesn't matter what kind of map you get, it doesn't change your strategies at all. No need to change your city building, your unit composition or your magic or tech research. Get one sucessfull strategy in Elemental and it will work on every map. Get one sucessfull strategy for a certain map in SC and try it on a different map... oh hey, suddenly it doesn't work so well anymore.