I think it all boils down on the developer's ingenuity of presenting each situation in game to make it more organic, if you will. For example:
#1 Instead of barrels and chests, just have parts of the ground or a half-buried clay vase highlight where you can dig and unearth valuable stuff, not necessarily gold; and/or incorporate activities like hunting or fishing into the game's economy, so the NPC can hunt and sell leather, meat, etc.
#2 Make the NPC carry a torch into a completely dark dungeon, but allow the NPC to drop the lit torch on the floor to fight enemies, or/and have unlit torches/sconces one can light up as one goes along, like Witcher 2 in the mines.
#3 Instead of just "I lost my father's sword in this cave, go get it for me", come up with an original story as to why the NPC needs to go into the cave to fetch something, like Witcher 2 has the Malena or Odrin quests.
#4 Depends on the game's theme, obviously. I guess the author praises Witcher since Geralt isn't really a hero, but just a sword for hire caught in a set of unfavorable circumstances, and his story is neither virtuous nor evil.
#5 Tolkien didn't invent elves, or dwarfs, or talking trees, etc. He just just gets credit for it
. But surely a lot of games just stop at those,and don't introduce anything new. Witcher does have its nekkers, and striggas,and drawners, etc, so it adds something different in good quantity.
#6 Maic is one of those things I never use in games. So, if it is completely removed from games, great.
I take it the author hated Skyrim