Absolutely. 110% agree with all of the above.
The comparison I would make is to every single other XCOM-like game. So all of the Microprose original XCOM’s, Firaxis’s 2 XCOM games and Xenonauts.
All went by the model of easy-ish starting game, then gradual raising of the difficulty up to a manageable level. And if some squad guys died it was because you mucked up via either not equipping your troops sufficiently for that point in the game, or you made a stupid decision (eg leaving a squad guy out in the open).
Even Terror from the Deep (XCOM 2 of the original XCOM’s), starts off quite hard, but it never gets to a ridiculous level on standard difficulty. Even late game.
Julian needs to take a look back at his past work, and use that as a basis for some massive balance improvements to make the game more fair. In all the other XCOM-like games, you’d get to a stage where your squads would start kicking ass and taking names, due to good equipment, good stats and good strategies. That just isn’t the case with Phoenix Point. You NEVER have to save scum to win in the other games. Only when you want to have all your troops make it out in one piece. That’s what I want to see.
And it’s only the Pandoran’s that are INSANELY overpowered. Every single last mission against human opponents, I have never had to save scum, and completely slaughtered everyone.
The Lairs need a MASSIVE nerf as well. They are just stupid hard. At least disable infinite spawning. That would make things manageable.