Of course the scenario you paint there is an oversimplification but the path they took was certainly along those lines. It's a bunch of workarounds being added in to fix core mistakes they made because THEY think it's what the players want. I would however also say that this is the result of EXTREME lazyness on their part. This game should have been done on a different engine. I could say that making that decision could be too radical for Larian as they could just make use of the resources they already have, but I think the current state of the game proves exactly the opposite. The engine is not adequate for what they said they were going to do. Their core changes to make something "more fun" broke the combat systems completely. So they added workarounds to deal with them, but then they need workarounds for the workarounds. It's such an idiotic and moronic approach that I honestly can't imagine that they even remotely thought this through. At this point they might as well just say that this isn't a D&D based game, change the name of the skills and market it as something else. It would still be trash, but at least it would be honest trash.
Well. I wouldn't be so harsh, even though I definitively had my little outburst of feelings a couple of weeks ago and wrote an analogy towards Larian that isn't really fair.
I think they have a base concept here that works. But for me to like it, it needs several improvements and to revert some changes made, particularly regarding surfaces, height advantage, action economy, cantrips and the rest mechanic being tied into the narrative with a lot of the story and companion interaction happening at camp. The last part worked well in DAO where you naturally returned to camp after each mission/area but doesn't work as well in a seamless experience.