that is just the worst way to use early access branching.
use it to give us access to the next upcoming "unstable" build (that is how every single early access dev does it, except you.....)
not the previous version.....
No, you have to see that from a developer's point of view. The branch continues to evolve in its Early Access phase, one does not start a new public, stable branch for each new set of features.
In software development and continuous delivery practice, it's exactly how a team proceeds, they keep a default stable branch, develop a new feature on a separate branch (which should not be accessed by others), then merge back onto default when it's validated (I'm skipping the release and fix/hotfix branches to keep it simple).
Since Steam is not the best platform and forces the user to always update, Larian had to find a workaround, with a new fake branch they had to create especially on the point before merge because of people who would otherwise complain about the loss of saved games (even though we all knew about this).
On GOG it's simpler, you can choose not to update.
They shouldn't do that really, and just go on with the update and wipeout (or let user prefer GOG on Steam). When I participated in several other games in development, that was the standard procedure, you don't want to see any further issue reports related to old releases.