The draw distance is very, very far for the basic environment. However, there is a certain distance where trees start to pop in, which I would have preferred to be a little farther. That goes for various objects and players as well. Don't know what the new build is like though, and the one I played didn't have anti-aliasing.
Storyline and leveling up so far has been hand-in-hand. If you do all the quests in each area, you definitely won't need to grind.