The optional part seems to have become mandatory. The bottom line is the current iteration does not feel very good to play. Combat is tedious and boring. The dialogue is a chore to slog through. Too many things pull me away from the game and all the companions are a joke. They are all assholes. There is very little attachment to your character as you are just slung into a massive fight which makes no sense because you are not continuing a person you know about, this is a totally new PC. Meaning they should have done some time before being captured to give some attachment. Combat is more about all the junk added than the class skills. It all just feels bad.
My experience with BG3 is the opposite of yours on every point. I think it feels great to play, I find the combat to be incredibly fun, I love the dialogue, I love the companions.