Agree wholeheartedly. It is my main grip about D&D 5e. I feel very strongly that WotC's main agenda in 5e was to expand combat in the game at the expense of roleplaying. If Larian wants to truly be innovating and "cutting edge," they should focus on putting roleplaying back into what is supposed to be a roleplaying game.
When it comes to Pen & Paper, combat is in the hands of a GM and how they handle their scenarios. Whilst I can’t answer how it’s handled on the official campaigns, I write my own stories, campaigns etc... and combat, whilst always an option is also frequently not!
I agree with those asking for decent rewards for avoiding combat, but at the loss of potentially interesting loot. Trade off, a tricky decision... or simply the ability to role play and decide based on a morale compass.
No sorry. Losing out on good loot because you avoided combat is blatantly unfair and very poor game design. A good game developer would find ways to compensate. For example, if a player avoids a combat situation in some way, and as a result did not get some potentially cool items, then the game could immediately spawn (for just that player's game) those items in some other location. You could also have situations where the way you avoided combat was because you talked/intimidated the enemy into surrendering or because the enemy (having some idea of your reputation or your capabilities) simply dropped everything they had and ran away. It is a matter of the developers' creativity.
Nonsense. This would be just as lame as level scaling.