I am on Book XIII in the epic quest chain, and since I have not complained about travel times in a little while, I thought this would be a good example.
Forochel was the new zone for Book XIII. It is a nicely crafted zone of snow and ice with some interesting gameplay features. Geographically, it is dominated by the bay in the center. Stay out of the bay. While you can swim anywhere else in the game, the water there will kill you in a few ticks. The capital is in the north, Suri-Kyla. There are towns in the center and southeast, a dwarf town in the southwest, and a little camp in the northwest. (Unless something was added in Book XIV, none of these towns have a Provisioner who sells the Traveling Rations one needs for the game’s teleportation abilities.)
The horses indicate horse routes (not surprising). A horse route usually goes to the nearest towns, sometimes with a fast travel (teleport) to a further town. So the center town connects to the other places on the road. The northwest outpost connects only to the northern city, via fast travel, and only if you unlock it. I forget whether that unlock is reputation-based, requires completing a quest that involves running around the bay a few times, or both (to get both directions). Suri-Kyla, being closely tied to the reputation system, demands reputation for its horse routes. Unlock the routes to other major cities by reaching Ally (next-to-best) standing with that city. Oh, and you must have visited both ends of the route to unlock it.
Do you see the red numbers I added to the map? That is the chain of locations for Book XIII, Chapters V and VI. This is not that bad, assuming you have unlocked the horse route around the bay. It is 25 silver each way, which is about a quest reward in this game. With animation and zoning, it is only about a minute between those two spots, plus another couple minutes to get to where the contact is, either at the furthest point in the city or in a cave northwest of the northwest outpost. So the route is: contact in capital city (1), run to horse, ride to outpost, run to cave (2), run to boat, fight to contact (3), run to dwarf cave, fight to quest objective (4), run to boat, fight to contact (5), run to outpost, ride to city, run to contact (6), run to horse, ride to outpost, run to cave (7), run to outpost, ride to city, run to contact (8). If the blue team has the boat, you can skip most of the fighting there. So the gameplay of these quests is fighting through one cave of dwarves, surrounded by about forty minutes of travel, probably closer to an hour since I always under-estimate how long things will take (ask my wife on that one: how much longer will it take me to get back to town and log off?), at a cost of 75 silver. You can cut a little time by locking your “map home” to one of the sites, and your time will be much longer if you have not done enough quests in the zone.
Getting there is half the fun. Getting back there twenty times is not ten times the fun.
I have hallucinated part of 13.7 into that. 13.8 involves two laps between the city and the cave, so they are starting to blend. And while we’re on 13.8, can we talk about bugs in the ice giants’ knockback code?