I blame Far Cry 2 for this, though it may just occupy my earliest memory of this 'problem'... some other game may be the culprit instead! Suffice it to say, The Two Map Problem (TTMP) is a pretty rare but annoying (at least to me) issue mostly regarding open-world games. Let me explain:
Far Cry 2 had an expansive map. I conquered the known universe, like Columbus.. or was it Ghengis Khan? Anyway, I'd unlocked all the safe places, the weapons, knew the routes and settlements - I had explored every nook and cranny available to my time; I had mastered the world and its systems. This was enjoyable. It is enjoyable to complete things even if they are on your own terms (I'm looking at you achievements!).
Then I hit the plot point. In a cutscene I was rendered impotent (yes, by now I'm used to it - damn you, developers!) and then forced into a new world. One I hadn't conquered.
I wasn't reduced in skill. I didn't have my weapons taken away from me but it was, nevertheless, a setback. I didn't know these paths, settlements or landscapes. It was confusing and debilitating. I'd spent countless hours mastering the world and now I had a whole new world to master.
In a strange way, it was my fault.
I had constantly desired more. I wanted to explore and understand this world even further. To enjoy new vistas and secrets. To clamber, unbound to the limits of the world provided. I didn't like what I was given.
So what went wrong?
I've long thought about this issue since Far Cry 2 and there have been a number of games that have performed this 'insult' to the player: most recently, Dying Light (though both Dead Island and Riptide did the same thing) and it is this game that has prompted me into this dialogue.
The problem with open-world games that use a two map layout is that the instant you move to the second map you have undone everything the player has mastered in the original map - whether that's an understanding of all the places in the world or the optimum travel paths, secret locations, known characters or resources.... Other games that perform what would otherwise appear to be similar mechanisms, such as RPGs with multiple local maps fitting into an overworld do not suffer the same possible negative emotional reaction from changing map due to their relative impermanence. i.e. You don't need to master a map because the world itself is larger than any one map and characters and resources you might need or use are not necessarily in a single place and thus the player's mastery of the game systems is more important than their knowledge of the world layout.
Games that do deviate from this caveat include such titles that remove previously accessible game hubs, removing player's ability to engage in upgrades or character interaction. Usually, these are unlocked again in some different form later on in the game but not until some plot points are driven through by the player. e.g. Borderlands 2.
Let's put it this way - the two map problem is only a problem because the developers have put such importance on the map layout in the first place. To give an example: Dying Light, a great game that I've thoroughly enjoyed, relies on you to be able to successfully navigate the world in order to avoid the predators that hunt you at night or to better reach objectives and deal with hordes of undead during the day...
You want to learn and explore new areas but at the same time, to be taken from the world you know into a new world without all the comforts of the previous one and with a different landscape is both exciting and annoying - much as, for many humans, the prospect of being thrown into a completely unfamiliar space or society is intimidating until you understand and learn to accept its idiosyncrasies.
Developers may need to throw players into these secondary worlds due to memory limitations of the hardware or game engines but effectively birthing the player anew into the same universe twice is not an efficient or, in my opinion, effective way of managing the player/world interaction.
At the end of the day, that says more, perhaps, about my mentality and psychological profile than it does about the game... but I'd rather have the ability to move out from the world I've learnt to understand and master than be a baby again in a new world, completely cut off from the old for a second time in the same game. There's a sense of continuity and relationship when moving across a space - even if the architecture changes significantly... but that is lost when you're thrown into what is a space devoid of all relationship to the first landscape you are familiar with,
Standing at the top of the tallest spaces in Dying Light (the Old Town and the Dam) I strain to see the areas I am familiar with in the skybox the developers have given me. A frame of reference for me to get my bearings. There are none and I feel untethered from the world...