Is that what Lar_q said the same as the original <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/div.gif" alt="" />? You got 1 or 2 transition from rivertown to verdistis. So you got relatively large areas with distinct elements and and specific portal to make transitions and Oblivion just had a large landscape as transition. I prefer the mountain pas approach like Raze said. Personally I really like the GTA approach (don't know what rpg uses this). They use (broken) bridges as transitions. It feels like one world but unless you swim (or fly) you have to take the bridge. For me the GTA approach is one of the best I have ever seen.
I also prefer the houses interiors are loaded in the open world (and a village can have a loading screen). But it all depends on the load time. Are we talking seconds, 10 seconds and what interval of the loads (searching a village can be hard when every house you enter takes 10 sec to load ), then again I don't want a load screen every 3 steps I take.