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On the other hand, it's not without its flaws. There are many minuscule cracks and rough spots that the developers most likely forgot to buff out or fix. By far, no other in-game fantasy city has been able to contest Novigrad's density and attention to detail. From the muddy gates and the town square which reeked of burnt sorceresses to the brothels and gangster hideouts, Novigrad is alive and brimming with activity, though not all of those activities are enjoyable for you as a Witcher.
As a result, you'll spend most of your time familiarizing yourself with every nook, cranny, and stinking sewer in Novigrad. The odd thing is, most players will likely never tire of walking around Novigrad despite spending half the game there. That's how you build a city in video games. One of the reasons why many players consider Novigrad as a haven despite the air of destitution and corruption is Velen. It's a vivid hellscape in the game full of hanged corpses, decapitated corpses, and corpses getting eaten by Necrophages.
Just when you think you've seen the worst Velen has to offer, venture a bit down south and you'll happen upon the swamp area. It's a fetid gloomy pool governed by three ugly witches who like to eat young people and every step you take in the water is an invitation to a drowner's lair or a water hag's hiding spot. Of course, that's to be expected since nobody likes swamp unless your an ogre with a Scottish accent.
No wonder they call Velen, "No Man's Land. In stark contrast to Novigrad's gunk and grime, Beauclair is a radiant paradise. It's an elegant wine glass whereas Novigrad is but a moldy tankard of ale. For many people, Beauclair is also the closest thing you can get to visiting a medieval countryside town in France What does give Beauclair more depth is the fact that underneath its lustrous surface is an underbelly full dark dealings and crime, often involving vampires.
After graduating from White Orchard, the game's tutorial area, you most likely expected something grander and more urban. Then you actually get there and find out that you're only allowed in the palace which was a wasted opportunity. The game really could have exposed the geopolitics of the Northern kingdoms better had they included the whole city of Vizima instead of just the uneventful palace where everyone tells you what happened to the place only through dialog, it's more telling and less showing that way.