I think you got lucky with your starter system.
That said, I agree that the game has gotten easier, though still not exactly easy.
As long time players, we still have the advantage of experience over a completely new player who hasn’t got a clue what those floating red boxes can do to you if you happen to laser down that tree while they are watching (as one example).
There are hazardous plants in caves that we know not to get too close to. We know that the environment will kill us if we don’t feed our health/shields consistently. That kind of thing.
I do have to say that this is the first time I have played hundreds of hours on a new normal save where I have not felt the dire need to install any mods, just to enjoy the gameplay.