it should have been open world ten years ago, but in a clever way that balances progression naturally both in unlocking new regions as well as new content
example, >"traveling between towns and areas has recently declined due to increased activity of grass pkmn who grow thick vines around the main route borders"
in other words beat the first gym leader to obtain cut so you can open up new areas. etc etc.
The more you progress the more seamless does traveling become, late game flying opens up pretty much anything including secret areas..
pretty standard for any jrpg like dragon quest or whatever..
no idea why people are upset about this one though, the community has been vocal about the games being shit for a decade and now the franchise is finally turning to a new direction which combines nostalgia with modern mechanics.
sure with the billion buck franchise this is they could have easily commissioned any top tier developer to create a jaw dropping game brimming with content and features, but with gamefreak these are still steps in the right direction