I have really enjoyed familiarizing myself with the world of Cairn, and I have no qualms regarding its current structure and the set of tools associated with it. I have found myself, while utilizing the rotating camera feature, getting jumbled logistically. Yes, I believe this should be the initial experience for new players as they start to learn and familiarize themselves with the map, though, I believe there could still be added features that don’t interfere with that sense of newfound exploration.
My #1 suggestion is that there could be more interactivity with the map. I have found myself wanting to mark specific areas so that I can be more specific in my exploration after the second-third play-through. I don’t believe this would interfere from a lore perspective, as it is totally realistic to be familiarized by the second-third play-through; players are familiarized enough to know generally where things are and how to get there.
This would be more of a quality-of-life feature that allows relatively familiar players to refine their exploration and make note of certain geographical features. If anything, this would increase the level of immersion in the world, allowing you to track and make note of things that you encounter, as you encounter them. It could be as simple as providing a “notebook,” or “diary,” where players can link to certain player-generated markers on the map to remember certain important locations or enemies.
In an effort to avoid “dumbing down” the second play-through, from the player’s perspective, (as I realize part of the experience is having to remember where things were located on your first play-through, matching the dire, minimalist state of Cairn and the Grim Dawn) it could even be gated until after your first play-through, or a toggled feature.
The game is absolutely amazing, in my opinion, when thinking about the player’s experience in exploring and fighting back against the chaotic world of Cairn. However, it could be even more amazing to increase the depth of exploration and allow the player to slowly catalog and learn the world as if they are actually in it. From a realistic perspective, it is totally within reality for the player to hold a diary that they can use to log important information and points-of-interest, so why not include it in the game to extend the depth of the player’s experience?
Feel free to critique and pick apart this idea, as I genuinely believe it is solid, but I am always open for constructive criticism.