See, now we're having a different conversation. Before, you were arguing that it wasn't empty. Now you're arguing about why it's empty. Technically we could end the conversation right here, as the whole point I was trying to make was that it's not as dense as other open world games. I never said anything about it being good or bad.
But, I do think there is another point that needs to be made, now that you bring this up.
The reason game worlds are often different from the real world is because the real world doesn't always make for the best game. For instance, the tallest mountain they seem to climb in the Treehouse stream is probably less than 300 feet high. Because it would suck if it took the player 6 hours to get to the top of a life sized, snow capped mountain.
Having a world that is more densly packed than real life is just better game design. It makes the world a more interesting place to be.
But, still super excited for BotW, I just get where this particular criticism is coming from.
Town and animal density or "empty" aren't some dichotomy. There is plenty to do in Zelda's world from what we've seen in the treehouse. Exploration, combat, shrines, various difficulty of enemies, camps, etc. Just because it is more spaced out (which is made up for with transporation methods such as the glider , horseback, and climbing) does not mean it is empty.
I disagree that it is bad game design. Different games try to accomplish different things. An Action-Adventure needs to play with scale. It needs to contrast the less-interesting with the very interesting so that it motivates you to explore. From the five or so hours I've been watching the treehouse Zelda does this, and does it well. You see something off in the distance and you want to go there. Then once you get there you get some action. That is the point of an action-advanture. RPGs play differently. While they can have exploration, that isn't their core. Their core is character development, story telling, lore building, and world-building. Entirely different things from Action-Adventures, and that is why comparing two games from these genres is silly. Horizon is a much better comparison, because it is also primarily an Action-Adventure game, but even then there are different goals (it is more action-oriented, while Zelda is more adventure oriented.)