I agree that The Witcher gets many things right, and some of its RP elements are more authentic than most other games. But my main complaint is the lack of role playing opportunities when it comes to certain types of conflict resolution. Especially in TW2, everything is geared towards combat, and transforming Geralt into some sort of killing machine. On the other hand, the story feels truly dynamic and the world substantially reactive.Can't. You're too far away for this *$&&% Nurgle-blasted catapult to reach.
Don't really want to go into the "what is an RPG" argument here, but I will say that CDPR has gotten closer to simulating my PnP RPG experience than any other developer, offhand.
Of course, I do tend to play gritty, mean PnP games where my character, ( and generally everyone else's) is gritty, mean and dooommedmed.
As opposed to something like Divinity Original Sin or Pillars of Eternity, which was a..group..simulator? I guess? It didn't replicate my fellow players or give me a fix on playing my character, though.
Which to me is central to Role Playing and why CDPR took the crown from Troika and Vampire Bloodlines: I felt like I was role-playing Geralt. Even if it was that pesky Third Person which kept jerking me out of his head.
Other games (not many really) let you rely on intelligence or coercion to avoid or reduce many combat situations. Pillars of Eternity and PS:T for instance offer many unique dialogue options based on your character's personality. Most TW3 material we've seen, shows two or three options. Perhaps these two options lead to dramatically different results though, like Flotsam burns or Flotsam celebrates.
I personally enjoy RPGs, among many reasons, because they tend to be open ended and allow me to interact with the world in different ways each time. We will have to wait and see how good TW3 is at this, but my point was that TW2 restricts your playstyle to either killing with swords, with magic or with bombs. Where is Geralt's famous wit and sarcasm? Narrative and quest design and the multiple world states are all superb though. I always thought of TW2 as some sort of hybrid (mutant?).
But like you said it's hard to say what is sufficient and necessary to classify a game as RPG. So maybe a game hits enough RPG buttons for one person and not enough for another. Regardless of what we call it it's probably going to be awesome though.