Dark Souls II isn't taking any chances, and maybe that's a good thing.
Speaking to 4Gamer, Dark Souls Director Hidetaka Miyazaki shared some insight into the world design of Dark Souls II. He said (roughly translated from Japanese):
With respect to the map, I think it follows the traditional form of Dark Souls. An open-world environment hasn't been considered.
Since it's following Dark Souls rather than Demon's Souls, we can expect to see a certain level of freedom that gives the impression of an open-world, and it appears that the chapter-style design of Demon's Souls is a thing of the past. That said, his response during the interview hinted at From Software considering a sandbox design in future titles. All they need is a good push from fans like what happened with the PC version of Dark Souls.
Shiyuba also made it clear that the map for Dark Souls II will be around the same size, although possibly slightly larger, compared to its predecessor. Moreover, the development team expects it to take about the same length of time to beat. So that's what, ~60 hours with about 75% of that being death runs? Yeah, that should be enough to keep RPG fans happy—and angry—for a couple weeks.