Great write up, Patrick. I too think the game's difficulty is too often overstated. It's only difficult compared to the hand-holding trend in most modern games. It's on par with some of the 80s and 90s RPGs otherwise.
There is so much more that the game offers than a great challenge. I love the world and the lore, even though I was fucking baffled on my first playthrough because I ignored reading item descriptions. Now, five times through, I've pretty much got it all figured out. =)
I watched all of your streams, and your competency and ability to quickly learn new concepts was really impressive. I remember watching you take on the Gaping Dragon, and thinking to myself: "Yeah, he'll have no trouble with this game." I don't think you're an exceptional player, but you did get over the game's hurdles much faster than others I've seen, including myself.