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I agree that with no or limited fast travel options, a map of 30x35 miles is way to large. However, this could easily be fixed by adding fast travel options at busstations, trainstations, subways and airports. Perhaps just go to the map, click an icon (clothing store, modshop etc) and you will travel there for a small fee ($10 per mile). I think this would be an easy fix for the large map.
If we look at the map of Ghost recon wildlands (which is 3 - 4 times the size of GTA V), this game is filled with stuff to do and interesting locations. Luckily you can fast travel. For a game like GTA, which has jets and super cars which can drive 200 miles per hour, you can still go from one side to the other in 10 minutes.
If you look at the Crew 2 (coming 2018), the game has a very detailed environment and the cities are really alive and HUGE. Although it is a racegame, this game is about 40 by 75 miles and the cities are more detailed than GTA V (although GTA V is already quite old ofcourse!). My point is: the hardware of the current generation can easily handle huge maps and detailed environments. It is the developer to create a map which is really fun and not boring.
*The map I create (35 by 30 miles) is San Andreas State, filled with about 10 cities and dozens of towns. Trust me, it will make you drool xD
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San Andreas used the low draw distance to its advantage, and by adding mist, it created the illusion that the map was huge. Also having all these different territories and vastly different regions, it felt like you traversed a huge map. The cars didn't go as fast as in GTA V as well, which makes the current map very small.
I think that by adding dozens if not hundreds of scenic routes and a few main routes, you can create a map with lots of different locations and interesting things to do. Even if the next game only has 2 cities and some countryside, they can still use this. Even Watch Dogs 2 uses this concept, and this game has a huge draw distance. I advise you to play Watch Dogs 2 and you will see that having more cities can easily be done.
I personally love countryside and huge maps. I rather drive a little longer, than drive around the corner and immediately be in a new area. I think that a slow transition works best, but that is my personal opinion.