I actually heard people complain that recovering SP as you walk would make the game easy but I'll bet those people never even made it past the first boss battle.
Given that weapons were useless for everyone but Tatsuya, SP regen made the game POSSIBLE. Magic sort of functioned differently in that game in the sense that it was in every sense completely mandatory. For every fight. I think this is an example of people putting their genre expectations in front of what they're actually playing.
However, if I was just plopped in the capital and not given any clue on what to do/where to go, then I really would just be scared off.
Morrowind also gave you some direction. Actually, so did DF and Arena. A bit less, but still enough to get you going.
Baldur's Gate 2, on the other hand... it gave you direction, in a sense. It gave you a lot of directions, and I got confused.
Anyway, a lack of direction isn't necessary assuming that actually trigger events isn't particularly hard. In Legend of Mana, for instance, pretty much entering a new town or dungeon would trigger an event, and getting a follow up event didn't require much. Only about 1/3 of the game was out of the way, and that was optional stuff. Actually, the quest progression was mostly governed by what areas you had opened up, so maybe they were guiding you in a less obvious manner.
Compare this to... The Romancing SaGa games (Or, er, Minstrel Song and RS3)... Okay, I like them a bunch, but I'm not going to say I have any sort of clue WHAT or WHY I was doing anything in any of them. I just sort of played and stuff happened. Nothing ever really formed up to consistent story arcs or whatever, and as a result you wouldn't really know of any places to typically search for stuff to do. Elder scrolls game? You'd know where the quest givers hung around. Legend of Mana? The story characters had a few hangouts that became pretty apparent. Romancing SaGa? Not a bloody clue. It was NEAT in my opinion, but no, I never had any clue what to do. And in some regards I like and in some regards I rather DON'T like the event rank system.
Then again, on the flip side, if you take this approach to far, you're back at Baldur's Gate 2, and I generally have no trouble finding quests, but no clue which ones are okay for my level, or which I should take first, or what.
There's also another alternative -- nonlinear, no direction, and nothing actually will ever happen. This is called Alternate Reality: The City, and I will never stop bitching about it ^_____________^ Well, stuff happens, I guess. Stuff like scurvy and starvation and getting attacked. Never any quests are NPC interaction or story bits.
Anyway, I'm more interested in non-linear approaches to a single problem than to non-linear story progressions. Liiike Dragon Wars. Goal? Get out of the city. There were seven ways to do that though. I like THAT kind of non-linear the best. Or in Wizardry 8, how you could side with different factions.
Er, unrelated, but outside of the mainquest, some of the non-linearity in Daggerfall felt like a sham. Basically, guild progression was totally linear. You just got assigned random quests, really. Not getting to do quests in a non-linear fashion. And you either failed or didn't fail quests, and it only affected your quest rank. The linear quest progression from guilds in Morrowind bugged me too, but at least different halls offered different things. Apparently the main quest in daggerfall is generally non-linear in a pick yer faction sort of way, with some side missions and variable outcomes affecting performance. Apparently the main quest also has an incredible story, but I never actually found enough text in game for it to make any sense.