A number of people on reddit have said that they did.
Personally the big difference from PoE1 is that in PoE2 I haven’t found a single combat tedious and been thinking “OH GOD WHEN WILL THIS FIGHT BE OVER?!?!”. In part this is because of the way they re-worked the abilities - the “per rest” thing is basically an IWIN button, which can either boost your abilities into the sky power-wise, or give you a bunch of abilities back in a fight, all other abilities are per-fight. In PoE1 you often had fights where you wanted to avoid using any per-rest abilities (esp. on harder settings), so they got very tedious as you just watched everyone use their attacks and carefully used per-encounter abilities.
In PoE1 “God when will this fight end…” was like 20-30% of the fights so this is kinda significant.
Visually it’s massively more readable for three reasons:
5 characters instead of 6.
Much better graphics and animations and particularly spell FX, which are clear, controlled and unique and not eye-breaking sequence of glows and flashes you accurately mention. The attack animations and so on are far clearer and better too.
The default combat speed is significantly slower than the default speed in PoE1, which helps a lot.
The log is still the log, but you rarely find yourself going “WTF just happened?!?!” in the way you did in PoE1.
I’m not saying you’ll like or something but the frankly massive increase in combat readability and sense-making was one of the first things I noticed in PoE2 as you can see earlier in this thread.
They are, but this is hampered by things being easier. That said, on Veteran at L15 I’m still finding some fights definitely WOULD be hard to even lethal if I wasn’t highly experienced at the game and using careful positioning and casting and so on. Some people say “Oh u can just set the AI to fite lol” but on Veteran and PotD that’s only true if you have a min-maxed party of shop-bought adventurers (i.e. not the actual characters) with awesome gear, aaaaaand you’ve carefully tweaked their AI aaaaaand carefully picked their abilities to be ones the AI uses well.