Just a few thoughts after playing through the game twice, once on regular and once on hardcore (well I’m about 90% done with my hardcore run).
Keep the map size similar to this game. I know it’s en vogue to have a c*** measuring contest on who can make the biggest open world… don’t fall for it! The map in this game was actually quite perfect for open world. In hardcore mode, sure I got lost a decent amount, but I also was able to learn a lot of the map and it usually didn’t feel like as much of a chore to go from town to town without fast travel.
I’d love to see more quests which take place within the area it was issued. Too many games force you to get a quest and then go across the map to complete it somewhere. KCD is also guilty of this after you get past the earliest parts of the game. This is fine with main quests, but for secondary quests it seems like just a way to add time to the game by forcing people to commute from one town to the next. Instead, let me get quests in one town and then have me perform tasks within that town and the surrounding area. Pre-Open world RPGs forced you to stay in a single area for the whole “act” and would make players learn certain areas inside and out because you were doing quest after quest and exploring all of the nooks and crannies of an area. Open world games tend to shun that in favor of giving you a quest and then forcing you to travel across the map and to me it’s one of the biggest downfalls of the open world concept. What was nice about KCD is that most places felt unique enough and I got to return to them enough that they didn’t feel like just a random pass through town. The Witcher 3 had that issue where most towns felt the same because you were just passing through to get a quest and then move on. That’s a big negative of going big.
I assume the next game should feature Prague. Please make it a big city. Be ambitious with this and do something that’s like Novigrad in TW3 size. However, one thing about Novigrad in TW3 is that I found it more boring than some of the towns in TW1 or TW2. Why? Because you didn’t spend enough time there (see #2). The town should be rich. If done right, I should want to be able to spend tons of time there doing quests, exploring, having fun. There should be bandit hideouts, shady merchants, taverns, rich areas, slums, and different style establishments based on where they are in town and people who congregate in each. The less towns feel like what I’ll call pass through towns, the better. They should feel alive and I should have to do lots of stuff there. If I compare to other games I’ve played, the two that really do it for me are Vizima in The Witcher 1 and Flosam in The Witcher 2. Vizima being a city and Flosam being a town with a surrounding forest. The main thing being the sheer amount of places to explore and things to do. It was why I personally preferred to TW1 & Tw2 to TW3… I know I’m a weirdo.
Of all the open world RPGs I’ve played, KCD is probably one of the most well done because every place felt unique and the map was the right size that it didn’t seem like stuff was just there just to be there (sure, some felt unfinished, but that’s another story). Hopefully, the next game stays that way and expands on it.