Dwarf Fortress looks like a whole new game with a graphical world map

Check out the new-for-Steam tileset up close

You don’t need a map legend to appreciate the new graphical world of Dwarf Fortress.

The one-of-a-kind, eternal, deep-beyond-belief simulation game is coming to Steam eventually (the store page reminds us that “time is subjective“), and when it does, it’ll sport a world map that’s far more approachable to the untrained eye. Co-creator Tarn Adams previewed the design in a news post.

Dwarf Fortress has a new world map tileset for Steam

“The image is larger and square since we’ve moved from 8×12 ASCII glyphs to 16×16 tiles,” Tarn said of the work-in-progress map. “There’s still quite a bit to do with river mouths and wetlands and oceans and mountains and trees and so on, of course. But we’ve arrived at a point where it accomplishes the goal of making the world map more easily understood and thought it would be fun to share.”

For comparison, here’s the area depicted with the classic color-coded ASCII aesthetic.

There’s so much potential for new players who have never heard the far-fetched legends – much less forged their own – to discover this fascinating colony-building passion project on a whim without any extra effort. The impulse factor: that’s the appeal. Combined with Steam’s massive built-in audience and discoverability features, the new tilesets (which don’t require mods) should work wonders.

Case in point, Dwarf Fortress is one of Steam’s most wishlisted games. It’s a slumbering giant.

I could never “get into” Dwarf Fortress, and I’m not completely convinced that a more accessible coat of paint will tip the scales in my favor, but the Steam release, in general, will be such a big moment.

As a reminder, the game is free – and it’ll remain that way – but the Steam edition won’t be.

Jordan Devore
Jordan is a founding member of Destructoid and poster of seemingly random pictures. They are anything but random.