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Fast Travel usually involves an overworld map of some sort - the player opens it up, chooses a location, and is warped instantly there. Most games with a fast travel feature introduce a single caveat - you must have discovered a particular location in order to travel there instantly.
Others insert an extra step - in Grand Theft Auto 4, you must select a fast travel location, then exit the menu and hail a cab in order to travel there. In contrast, The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion allowed you to fast travel to a number of locations without discovering them yourself. And in the Guild Wars games, you're often required to complete a quest or mission in order to proceed to certain areas, and certain key locations are not available for fast travel at all.
Despite the obvious benefits to the concept many developers feel that it gets in the way of exploration and do not use such a concept, This is a notable issue in MMO's who's developers often feel that if a player can fast travel everywhere they wouldn't be inclined to pay for the services provided as long. Other games that don't use it are the Metroid and Zelda series.