What draws me most to fantasy is the fantastic worldbuilding it inspires, and getting immersed in a well-fleshed out setting which feels really alive – no matter what that setting is – makes or breaks a fantasy novel for me.
But I've also read novels which provide great detail on almost everything else but their settings (namely the world, the history behind that world, etc.) and it still seems to work. I've seen settings being presented as they just are, without any further exploration. I'm not talking about vagueness with respect to character details, or plot considerations, or even magic systems – only with regard to the physical/geographical setting. For example, the world of the Hunger Games isn't much concerned with history or even geography but it still feels very much alive; we travel to places which aren't described in great detail but we still have a sense of place.
My question, therefore, is how does one bring in the atmospheric feel of a fantasy setting while still keeping it deliberately vague and hand-waving much of it as not being central to the plot/characters? Is the vagueness helpful in ensuring greater flexibility for writers who can then switch up things at any time without it feeling too strange or out of place? Eg:- one could switch between something that has an urban feel and something that's more 'high'/medieval. If one wants to give a more 'unique' flavour to their world then wouldn't vagueness be undesirable?
I'm asking primarily because in my WIP, I've considered switching back and forth between an outright fantasy world that I've created and wanting to have my story just be a fantasy adventure through the 'real' world while still retaining these high fantasy elements – basically urban fantasy story, really. I like the latter option but it seems to me that my world is flavourful and interesting with its Southeast Asian feel and I don't want to lose that – plus it's my baby so I don't want to get rid of it entirely! Any suggestion would be greatly helpful!