Disclaimer: If you're not into nitpicking theories and have "it's just a game" or "it's videogame logic" as a reply to this, I'd recommend not wasting your time reading this wall of text.
I have spent too many hours trying to figure out some details from the Iceborne reveal trailer, going frame by frame at times, and I'm close to ripping my hair out with my bare hands. And I think I finally got it.
Bare with me. This is going to be a long way down the Lagombi hole. TL:DR at the end. I'll try to condense this as much as possible.
Let's go back to the beggining of the game.
In the opening cutscene, we follow our band of fivers, on a ship, "chasing" Zorah Magdaros, who is swimming towards the New World. The ship gets wrecked, our fivers fly away, survive and regroup near the Ancient Forest.
We are all familiar with the
New World's map. Ancient forest to the west, Wildspire Wastes to the east. Rest of the continent to the north, with the Elder's recess in an elevated plateau.
Now, of course, this is an in-universe map. It is stylized, and probably isn't very precise. but there's something that needs to catch your eye. From the look of it, this map was made as the character progresses through their exploration. Only sketching some parts that are not "known", and giving more details to familiar zones.
As you can see from the picture above, the New World is a large island / continent, surrounded almost entirely by an archipelago. As the Fifth fleet approached the new world, they where getting close enough to see the surrounding islands and draw some sketches of them.
Taking all this into consideration, Zorah and the first fleet must have come from the west. The wreckage of the player's ship must be close enough for us to survive it. And unless a strong wind current carried us from the east coast (Wastes) all the way to the Ancient Forest, I am convinced that Zorah and the Fifth came to the new World from the west. Why would the player and the handler not land near the Wildspire wastes instead of the Forest if this was not the case ?
Furthermore, Zorah is a massive creature. If you look at the world map, you'll see that there seems to be a larger island to the east (right where the compass is, and where quest details are usually displayed). While on the west coast, there are islands too but they seem sparce in comparison. Zorah must have crossed by sea between the western islands for the fifth to be able to follow it so closely by sea. If it had come from the east, it would have had to pass though that larger eastern island, and it would have been much more difficult to follow it through without going around the island, probably losing a lot of valuable time in the process.
Last but not least, the Elder's recess is located to the north east, meaning that, as we see during the game's story, Zorah crosses a huge part of the continent to try to get to it. Instead of crossing by land, it seems to swim around towards the Wastes, and then approach by sea into the "Canyons" that we see right under the Elder's recess icon is (that's where the actual Zorah fight takes place.
After the fight, Zorah turns around 180 degrees, and swims away, seemingly to it's death somewhere in the ocean. There's two things we need to assume here:
- We don't know if it will die soon (considering it's enormous lifespan)
- It is implied during the game that it's death will generate a new ecosystem somewhere. I propose that this future ecosystem is not the one we will see in Iceborne
- How far and in which direction Zorah leaves is pure speculation. But even if it's death generates a new landmass, the formation of a new ecosystem, with weather patterns, flora and fauna, will probably take centuries if not more.
First conclusion of this theory: Zorah Magdaros will not have anything to do with Iceborne.
How do we know this ? Let's go back to the Iceborne trailer. Check this frame: Rathalos flying away in the trailer
This frame is essential to understanding my theory. Notice three features in the background:
- Lower terrain to the right
- Mountain range to the left
- The Ancient forest's megatree in the middle.
It's pretty easy to determine the direction rathalos is flying off to by this image. It does not seem to veer left or right during the following seconds, but from those three features we can tell that Rathalos is flying West. IF my above arguments prove to be true, and Zorah swam east, that means that Iceborne's landmass is located on the opposite side of the New World.
And that's when it hit me. This makes no sense.
Look at the new world's ecosystem:
- Lush, tropical Ancient Forest.
- Dry, arid Wildspire Wastes (could be explained by the presence of the mountain range just to the north, blocking air currents)
- Humid, but also lush and seemingly "warm" coral highlands. The large vegetation seems to confirm it, even if it might be more of a temperate climate because of the altitude
- The Elder's Recess: Also arid, but with a different climate because of an even higher altitude, and the active volcano or volcanoes.
Overall, it seems that the climate of the New world is pretty much tropical – subtropical all around. How is it possible then that an ice landmass like the one we start to see is only a short Rathalos flight away ? To make matters worse, how can it be to the West ?
Because the New World's map is the wrong way around.
It makes sense that a group of explorers would use basic cartography to make maps of a new continent as they explored it. First the AF, then the WW, then CH and RV, finally reaching the ER. The cardinal directions make no sense in a case like this.
Second conclusion of this theory: The World map is flipped 90 degrees
Let's assume for a second that the World of Monster Hunter is similar to ours (roughly spherical, same overall composition, etc) with colder climates near the poles, and a mix of arid and tropical climates as you move away from the poles.
If this is generally true as well in the MHW universe, this must mean that the world's diameter is much much smaller for the distances to be so small between the lush / arid new world and the icy waters of Iceborne. (remember, one Rathalos flight away from a cold climate).
And that's where everything breaks down. Because that Rathalos, my friends, is flying in the opposite direction from where the fifth fleet arrived (the false "west").
TL:DR: Iceborne will take place in a continent located to the North or South of the New World, but the world map in-game is wrong, flipped 90 degrees. The Fifth fleet passed close to it on it's way from the Old World, and some characters should already have known of it's existance before the game even starts.
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