I'm not really sure I understand what you mean. You have to have a storyline for a "role" to exist, and a story to be told in this medium requires there to be a goal of some sort. Tracking down Ciri, finding the waterchip, etc. You are always put on a road to "go to this guy who tells you to do that, return for debrief", and queuing these up you have story. It is very rare to have "things just happening to the character". But with a little bit of irony... "things just happening to you" is kinda exactly what I'm suggesting here with only loose narrative joint-sections, before and after which you build your own story arc through what you do and how in your trek towards those joints (in a world that reacts and is persistent).I don't think "having things happening to my character" qualify as "having a goal imposed to me".
Don't get stuck on the word "goal", though. It's just word to underline a narrative "waypoint".
If we go a bit deeper into narrative design this way, and let's speak figuratively for a moment, what I meant is that there are a couple of very loose narrative barriers pretty far apart (or as close as you can get them, if you choose to rush) that you have to cross for the storyline to progress. In a more strict story, you'd have large set of those. The way you choose to deal with those barriers is up to you. You can go over the, you can go under them, or you can go straight through them. The choice is your and each way might produce a different situation behind the barrier to continue from towards the next. And the "loose" part... you might also get around them, in which case you are once again altering the story by dismissing certain parts of it and going "your own way" as opposed to the "suggested way". You don't cross the barrier, so you don't see what's behind it. You go past it and get what's coming that way -- which, I would think, would be the closest to the theme of "saving yourself".
In this way, every missions would kinda be a sidemission, and the "core storyline" just a glorified sidemission that you can neglect if you wish, but still reach a conclusion. And the actual storyline builds up from what you do during the game and how that affects your character, where it gets him/her, and what happens to the key figures along the way that you've met and dealt with (how ever you've chosen to do that).
If I were designing the narrative, I'd allow the player to enter the world do a couple of missions, board a plane or take his bike and fly/drive away. Two hours passed, not much done. And have that be a valid playthrough. I'd even allow the player to jump in the plane right after the game starts, with nothing done. "You visited NC and thought, this is not your thing. The prospects are better elsewhere. Will you find your fortunes that way, only time will tell... GAME OVER. *Credits roll* "
The crux is that the narrative line you get, is as much "up to you" as possible in this medium. And without sacrificing quality stories and writing that you run across. If you want high class personal drama, you need a highly set character like Geralt and a very dictated path through the game (like Witcher 3). And I'd rather not have that here. I would gladly sacrifice some of that drama for player agency (and character agency if we go down and dirty with gameplay).
Some have cited games like New Vegas as a example of how badly this kind of openness fits with character-specific drama, but one has to keep in mind that that game was cobbled together in 18 months from the leftovers of another game with large portions left in the cutting room floor because time and money were running out and the scope had already skyrocketed. CDPR has the money and time to do such a thing far, far better since they are pretty much their own masters. Not that I think they will, but they could.