Very good points and I'm inclined to agree about the wishful thinking of the old fans.I don't share the high hopes that some people have here, I don't think this game can be "fixed" for the old school crowd.
As I and several others have mentioned already, the loot doesn't reward exploration. You can't go searching for that epic sword rumored to exist in our around Dragon's peak mountain or something like that. Why? Because it will be some level-scaled POS that's probably worse than Witcher gear anyway, there's no point.
I firmly believe that most of the elements were designed with the lowest common denominator in mind, to get as many newcomers as possible into the series. There's nothing wrong with that in itself, I just didn't get my Morrowind exploration itch scratched and I haven't for a long long time.
One thing they could have done to alleviate this problem was to make all the Witcher gear treasure hunts unreferenced. No starting point, no confirmation that these schematics even exist until you find them. Those treasure hunts already have some of the best location designs and very interesting small stories connected to them. They would have been perfect if they had been entirely hidden.
I think Wild at Heart quest is a perfect example of how CDPR abused the Witcher senses mechanic. In this quest Geralt draws enough information to know where he should go but even If I was to disable the minimap and gps Geralt would still tell me exactly where I should go.
GUI or not - Geralt actually does all the thinking for you in quests.
"Footsteps... I should follow them."