Zwift Releases Makuri Islands: New World to Eventually Rival Watopia

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Zwift has released a new land, called the Makuri Islands, and the first section in that is the Yumezi map, which includes 27.6km/17.1mi of roads on it. However, unlike UCI or real-life-based event maps such as Yorkshire or Richmond, this one is built as the foundation for a new world that Zwift says will likely someday rival Watopia in size and scale. However, Zwift was careful to note this isn’t a replacement for Watopia, and that Watopia isn’t going anywhere.

Zwift says Yumezi is “inspired by Japanese culture”, though as close as that may be to the upcoming Olympics in Japan, you’ll find no Olympic tie-in or Olympic route maps here. Nor Mt. Fuji. For that you’ll have to keep churning the rumor mill. Instead, these islands feature cherry blossom trees, bamboo forests, ginkgo forests, and plenty of temples. Oh, and lots of waterfalls and wolves. Even a rice field or two. After riding it, I’d argue it’s Zwift’s most scenic world they’ve created to date. Even if it’s not the biggest one (yet).

I’ve had a chance to put some miles on the Yumezi map, covering most of the roads over the course of roughly an hour during a first ride. In fact, you can simply hit the ‘Play’ button up above for my entire walk-through where I cover all the cycling and running routes, as well as plenty of vignettes from across the map during my ride-through. Also, I even manage to tie-in a decade-old cycling story about trying to outrun large-teethed animals in the Middle East, much like those scattered across the initial Makuri Islands implementation.

yumezi_pr_map

Now, the map officially goes live into rotation at 12AM US Eastern time on May 20th (0600 CET on May 20th in Europe). So depending on exactly when you read this you’ll either need to wait a bit for it to show up in the game automatically, or, it’ll already be there. No matter the time though, the update itself is now live – so you can go and update your computer/Apple TV/phone/whatever now, so that you’re ready to roll if it hasn’t quite gone live yet.

To begin, most importantly, here’s a gallery of shots I took during my ride. Sure, they aren’t as fancy as the official Zwift PR ones, but realistically it’s very unlikely you’d have the graphics card to pull those off. So, this is a more realistic take on things using a reasonably good computer but nothing too crazy.

On the routes front, there are a variety of routes, most topping out at about 15KM, and with only minimal elevation gain at about 100m of ascent. Here’s a simple gallery of all the cycling ones:

And then here are the running ones, which are just a smaller subset of the cycling ones listed above. There are no running only paths at this point (though, as I show in the video – I suspect that might be in the works, based on some paths I saw):

And don’t forget, in the video I talk through plenty as I’m riding along, as well as some longer thoughts on what Zwift is doing here.

With that, go forth and update, and see ya out there!

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40 Comments

  1. Mister Ray

    Not a Zwift issue, but why can’t Strava use Zwift maps for Zwift rides? We all know Strava is a money loser, but it seems like it would be an easy thing to implement and attract more Zwift users.

  2. A Zwifter

    If anyone is interested I have a post on the things that were included in the update, new bike and wheelset. Feel free to check it out: link to zwiftforkids.com

  3. Alberto

    And where in the real world is the GPS location set to? Artic Ocean?

  4. Steve

    Looks like the new minimum spec should be an RTX3090. Get the most out of those particle effects and lighting! To be honest I don’t envy the dev’s trying to make it playable on a mobile phone but also not look like Wolfenstein 3D.

  5. Jason

    Yay – short routes are good news. Will get my son interested again as he’s not up for multi-hour slogs but is an avid badge-hunter.

  6. Barry

    Ray, have you tried this with the new Apple tv 4k 2021 unit?
    If you have, are there more BT connections possible than the original unit?

    • Not yet, no. In theory, mine was supposed to come tomorrow. In practice…it says next week.

      I don’t suspect we’ll know right away on the BT bit. Mainly because I’m sure Zwift simply has it hard-coded right now to max out at 2 BT sensor connections (+ remote), so even if the new version supported more sensors, we wouldn’t know until someone could test it dev-wise.

      I asked Zwift yesterday whether or not there were any specific changes in this week’s build for the new Apple TV, and they said nothing was in there for it.

  7. JE

    The analysis platform Runalyze actually does something like this. While it does not show the Zwift maps (yet?). It automatically tags a Zwift ride on the Paris map as taken place in “Zwift Paris”.

    • JE

      This was supposed to be an answer for

      “Not a Zwift issue, but why can\u2019t Strava use Zwift maps for Zwift rides? We all know Strava is a money loser, but it seems like it would be an easy thing to implement and attract more Zwift users.”

    • We would like to be able to display maps for the virtual Zwift worlds, but for that someone/we would have to 1. get the okay to use the Zwift maps as maplayer and 2.) create these layers in the first place. And as much as we are interested in that, we hope that Zwift might do that one day. We don’t have the time, at least at the moment.

      I really need to take a tour in the new world so we can tag it appropriately on Runalyze.

  8. Bogie

    Hi, thx for the review info. Do these routes best require ‘normal’ road bike, so no gravel or MTB?

  9. John P

    My fps does not enjoy the new world at 4k ultra, although I would agree it is probably their best work graphically to date

  10. Neil Jones

    Glad to find that Zwift are still supporting Tacx Road Feel with this – I was concerned that now Tacx/Garmin is a direct hardware competitor, Zwift would stop supporting what’s a key USP for Tacx.

    P.S. Is anyone using Edge to view this site finding the video ads are crashing the page? Maybe I just need to renew my DCR membership :-)

    • Hmm, that’s odd. I just tried Edge, and it didn’t crash for me once the ads loaded (and not logged into site either). Weird. Does it repro consistently? If so, happy to dig into it…

      …or, you could join as a DCR supporter. :)

  11. Paul N

    If this is planned to be as large as Watopia I hope they’ll either add it as a second permanent world choice (so this, Watopia, and 2 guest worlds) or maybe finally allow full world selection.

    • Will Vousden

      I imagine they’ll only allow full world selection when there are enough people on Zwift to populate them all to Zwift’s pleasing (and I doubt there ever will be).

  12. babananananrama

    I dont see why they dont integrate it in Watopia. There is a desert next to the Alps and a jungle. More worlds are an disadvantage, than integrate on in a bigger world. or connect the diffrent world so we can ride from the alps to japan an then to london in an continuous ride.

  13. MAGNUS

    A. Waterdrop?

  14. DBW

    That Japanese music, is that part of the Zwift app for these routes?

  15. Nic Zuraw

    A blast from the past – looks exactly like the TacxVR oriental world from 2017

  16. Mark

    I couldn’t comment on YouTube – the comments were stuck loading – so here it goes.

    I have a feeling the animals you saw weren’t the fox models, or at least weren’t all of them. They looked like tanuki, specifically the Bake-danuki yokai that are based on tanuki.

  17. Ian S

    Thanks Ray, looks interesting and nice write up. My conclusion on Zwift is that I love it when they do new ‘real’ worlds (Innsbruck, London, ok not Richmond) but on the fantasy stuff then just keep making Watopia bigger and better. I seem to always gravitate to Watopia as it has something of everything and then do an occasional event on a ‘real world’

  18. Kevin LaCour

    Maybe now they’ll have time to create the club feature?

    Hey, a guy can dream …

    • Technically it’s created. Actually rolling it out to the masses? Not so much.

      (In fact, I’d argue it’ll be looked back at as Zwift’s biggest mistake in many years. At the one time in history when they could have really solidified club and team alignment to Zwift, and made it incredibly sticky…and they didn’t).

  19. Jordi Backx

    Mt. Fuji is already in the background …. so when that part of the Makuri world opens up, the Fuji KOM segment will be fun!!

    Did everyone notice Godzilla’s red claw sticking out of the hill near the castle? Hilarious. Would be fun to see him walk around just like the Yeti or the dinosaurs in Watopia.

  20. Kevin

    There was a cool video game called Okami about a white wolf and cherry blossom trees. Japanese mythology had a white wolf who mates with a goddess and produced the first man, iirc.

  21. Mark L

    Gorgeous route. Best yet by Zwift.

  22. mato

    I’m afraid the visuals are worse than what we got in games a decade ago. Seriously, games on consoles two generations earlier looked better and more realistic. And hardware and software have improved so much since then. I’m really surprised this is the current tech in cycling simulators in 2021.

    • Mikey_The

      While that may be true, the visuals do vary depending on which hardware you’re using, if you’re using a gaming PC with Nvidia 1050 or better (for example) it will look significantly better than if you are simply using a tablet device or a pc with intel HD graphics, the platform has to work with different hardware and different levels of graphics support, a lot people are simply using Zwift to augment their exercise regime during bad weather or pandemic related lockdowns, they won’t necessarily be gamers and won’t be invested enough to care.