I thought things seemed a bit cramped compared to XI but then I thought to myself exactly how much of that size did XI actually put to use?
I mean sure the zones were pretty expansive and had a real open feel to them but the vast majority of that space was only ever used to pass through on the way to somewhere else. For example the run between Windurst and Jeuno for took a bit of time and distance but how often did anyone do anything in Sauramouge or Meriphataud or even most of Tahrongi other than run through on the way somewhere else?
I guess if it gets down to it you're better off with relatively smaller maps where every corner and every mob has a purpose rather than large maps where most of the area is just scenery and most of the mobs go untouched.
Well, I agree. Except from some NM and perhaps some quests, these areas didn't have much of a purpose. However, I did feel that I was actually travelling since all the areas had some diversity in their designs. In the forementioned example, traveling trough La Thiene Plateau or passing trough Valkurm Dunes while making a stop in Selbina felt that you were actually exploring a vast and diverse world. However, Wint has a point. There is still 7GB of contenet we haven't seen, so my guess is that the world and areas will expand at least double at launch.
I don´t think the long travel is a real issue. Nowadays, with teleport, you can give players the option to go around by feet/chocobo or teleporting. Thus, if a player is about to get into a Party he/she could just teleport to the nearest crystal without the need to running trough different zones.
On the hub city, I dont think Ishgard is a good option. Clearly, people in Gridania will have an closer access than those in Limsa Lominsa, unless they make it reachable via airship or something. Then we will have something more like an Al Zahbi instead of Jeuno.