There are 3 primary focuses for Fallen Enchantress; Tactical Combat, Magic and the World. You may have seen our latest developer journal on the world. If not you can check it out here: http://www.gamespot.com/pc/strategy/elementalwarofmagicfallenenchantress/video/6315008/elemental-fallen-enchantress--video-diary
Our goal is to make exploring the world dangerous, interesting and valuable. The more information you gather about what is around you and where you should be expanding, the better you are. You can find resources (which benefit your empire and are all available from the beginning), go on quests (which benefit your champions, more about this later), find new champions, kill off opposing champions (hmm…. we will need a dev journal on champions soon), discover monster lairs, fight wandering monsters for experience and uncover unique locations and wildlands.
Wildlands are special areas with unique conditions to clear them. In the above we see the Burning Lands. Delin the Pyre of Man is an Elemental Lord. He was first witnessed when he rose out of the ashes of Anniellum, where 200,000 perished when a volcano exploded during the cataclysm. He remains in the region surrounded by various fire creatures. To clear the Burning Lands Delin must be killed.
We also have the Ruins of the Imperium, the Pits of Namtur, the Lombard Desert and many more. The Ruins can only be conquered if a player founds a city within the ruins (and receives a significant perk for doing so). The Pits are a wide range of caves which could hold treasure or creatures, all of them have to be explored to clear the area. The Pits aren’t “aggressive” (they don’t spawn monsters) unlike most of the other wildland areas, we really wanted each wildland area to behave differently.
The Lombard Desert is only cleared when a player discovers the library at it depths. There may be an elemental lord wandering the dessert, but defeating him isn’t required to conquer the area.
We also have unique locations. The Temple of the Dragon is a unique location, guarded by a unique red dragon and allows the player to recruit red dragons if it is controlled. The Pillar of Mascrinthus counts as 3 earth shards and Iru T'Alavar significantly increases the rate nearby cities grow.
And we have monster lairs. I always hated that you couldn’t have big scary monsters in the game from the beginning, now we do. Dragons are fairly rare, but there may be a lair or two out there. Darkling and bandit camps are more common along with bear dens, ogre lairs, troll caves, places infested with spiders and shrill. These are especially common in forests and swamps.
Monsters typically won’t leave their lairs, so it’s up to the player to decide if he wants to attack them or not. The exception is that if a player’s influence spread over a monster lair, that monster is freed. So it’s fine to have a dragon living over a hill from your empire. But if you plant a city down beside him, don’t expect it to last for long.
Wandering monsters that are more appropriate to the player’s power still exist (and they get tougher depending on how long the game has gone on, not based on the techs discovered) and eventually can spawn ogres, umberdroths and dragons. But in the beginning expect to see less powerful monsters wandering around and the more powerful in lairs.
Beyond providing experience, treasure and allowing the player to clear the area so he can plant cities monster lairs have another purpose. With the correct technologies some lairs can be claimed by some factions. The fallen can recruit darklings, mercenaries, ogres and fell dragons from captured lairs and camps. The amount they can recruit depends on the amount of camps you control. For example every dragon monster lair leaves behind a dragon lair that the empire can build an improvement on to recruit fell dragons (the kingdom factions can build an improvement on the same tile to recruit storm dragons). But the amount is limited based on how many camps the player controls. One dragon lair means the player can recruit one fell dragon. One ogre camp means the player can recruit 3 ogres. This allows us to make the monsters unique and a little overpowered, since we know the player can’t mass produce them. And also maintains some of their uniqueness (we don’t want an empire suddenly fielding massive ogre armies because they have one camp).