It seems like every battle starts with the enemies casting every single possible status abnormality at the beginning of the battle, so some battles I have never gotten a single attack in before I have been totally annihilated.
Divinity2 loves it's ambushes. To be fair in Divinity1 it was you who was ambushing and obliterating enemies that way. The trick is to survive those initial attacks.
There is one thing that you need to win: equipment on your level. You get skills, you boost your stats, but the single most important thing is to have the highest level gear you can get (which is your level). You need enough shields to not get stunned, and you need to dishout enough DPS to break enemy shields and stun them. And for that you need the best armor and best weapons you can get. Everything else is secondary.
2nd chapter (Driftwood) suffers from being very open, but with content spread across multiple levels. That results that you are very limited in where you can go, without being told so. Step into an ambush for which you are undergeared and you get killed before you can act - sometimes one level difference is enough. If that happens, usually that's the sign to go someplace else first. That becomes less of a problem as chapter 3 is smaller, and by chapter 4 you should be almost at max level.
Abilities which move units around (yours or enemies or both) are a godsent. Worth investing into low Aerothurge just for teleport and Nether Swap. Ranged DPS is amazing - go high ground and you can most likely reach anyone you want. Figure out what enemies have what shield, take that shield down and then go ham on status effects with your spellcaster.
People say will say Larian "over uses surfaces" but that's not right. There's no overuse: the game is entirely about surfaces. How do you get your enemies of surfaces they don't want to be on, how do you get yourself on surfaces you want to be on.
Very much so, what traditionally would be numerical buffs and debuffs Larian turned into very visible and interactable thing on a map.