I'm not sure most of the elements we're talking about here are linked to the huge number of sales and incredible critical reception. For instance I'm not sure a casual player/reviewer would even notice how the initiative system works.
The fact they dont notice it is what makes it good.
No need to think about it, see.
Because thinking has become an enemy, especially of fun. Thinking is too heavy see... its not fun.
And you can notice the same psychosis across the mass market and entertainment industry as well as popular culture in general.
And since this system does not require anyone to think about things above some superficial level, they can just play and have fun and experience the story and cool explosiunz and "tactics". While being under illusion they are "old school rpg" players or something.
My point being, I think that most of them, save for the armor system which they may not want to change, can indeed be fixed without the game losing its appeal to the casual audience it garnered.
No, because in that case that same audience would have to think about these mechanics and you would reintroduce the greatest enemy of all - the dreaded ..."randomness"
Which does not exist as such but due to these morons consistent bitching and crying about it, the devs decided to "remove it" as much as possible.
And it worked.
I do find myself surprised that reviewers seem to have got through the game without having issues with, for instance, stat bloat, since the game does have problems that should impact both casual and hardcore audiences more or less in the same way. It's fairly puzzling that this hasn't happened.
They are playing at "classic" at most so never had to see any of it. And besides they are already trained to "think" more HP to whack away is "harder" and "tactical".
I cant say i blame the devs too much about it considering the business necessities and knowing how in the past they were close to bankrupcy and took huge risks and abrely managed to stay afloat. Knowing how many great game studios are not around anymore. Knowing about three new studios Larian opened and all that.
But neither that or the momentary popularity or 10 gamespot reviews while other reviews now all copy-paste how "divine" or "heavenly" the game is make these mechanics any better or gameplay any different.