You talk a lot here about realism, it's kind of your central thesis as I can tell. But I don't know that we need realism in a fantasy video game. I mean, the word fantasy is right there. I dunno about you, but in my fantasies, everyone I'm attracted to is also attracted to me. I don't sit and fantasize about someone saying, "Sorry, I'm not into you." Also video game. Which is a form of entertainment, right? So when you say the purpose of "people" in the "world" is not to please you, I think maybe it kind of is? In a video game? Now of course different people will be "pleased" by different things, and it's impossible to please everyone. So I think they have to try to assess which option pleases more people. And I don't know which one it is. But it might be playersexual characters, mightn't it?
I'm sorry to cut this right out of its context but I really think this hits the heart of the argument: I don't play video games for erotic or fetish fantasies. I don't watch tv shows for fetish purposes either. I don't read books for it either. It's not the kind of entertainment I want. It's not the kind of "fantasy" I want.
Honestly, there is a big problem with how rpgs have come to be burdened with an expectation of appealing to fetishes with their "romances" these days. It's the video equivalent of blatant panty shots and ridiculous boobiting in anime. I think alice was right in invoking the Miyazaki meme but maybe not for the same reason as you. There's always been this weird, toxic fetish culture part of nerd culture but I certainly do not think it is what most people approach the media, whether anime or video game, for. It just gets a lot of attention because it's what people who spend an unhealthy amount of time on the internet obsessing about media clamour for.
I don't need a video game waifu. I don't need the game to fuel my fetishes. I don't need constant sexual fan service. I don't need characters to be defined by being vehicles for my sexual fantasies. I think media suffers and becomes less good from having these as pillars of their design philosophy.
I want strong characters. Strong characters does not mean characters with muscle mass or 12+ in their Strength attribute. Strong characters mean characters with a well defined, realistic characterisation, the more depth the better. I want characters that have their own goals and aims, and that don't just lull around behind the PC regardless of what you do. I don't want characters that bend around your character like spineless sea churning.
The main problem as I see it isn't that just that the characters are player-sexual. This would in itself be a weakness of characterisation, but can be overcome with good writing (something Larian lacks). The main problem is that they are hyper-player-sexual. They're throwing themselves at the player like cats in heat, like I was actually playing an hentai harem-collecting game instead a high fantasy adventure. It's not exciting, it's certainly not romantic, and it's not even enrousing. It's laughable. These aren't characters. These are vehicles. These are anime panty-shots. The only word that can describe it is cringeworthy.