I played up to and including some of Heavensward. I stopped after literally everyone I knew stopped playing it for all the aforementioned reasons (in short, all kinds of RPG players found it boring). HW not correcting anything was the final straw for everyone TBH.
Elemental hierarchy stuff, again, is only an example - but a pretty strong fluff (or lore, if you like) one when you consider people can damage Ifrit with fire. I can understand why you wouldn't care if you hadn't played a FF before though. You could call this a design problem because it causes the game-play to be out of sync with the game-world and story you're telling the players. The physical damage types via slash and stab were also part of trying to sell the game-world. You wouldn't try and stab a skeleton... would you? (here were other design factors here, stab cost less and came out more quickly - something considered true of IRL sword-play - although in the game it was for less damage as a trade-off)
Adding balance to different play-styles is part of the job description for the game designer... I don't think they should get off the hook too easily when players are hard rail-roaded into performing certain actions in a certain way every time. The only thing players seem to be able to customise to any great degree in XIV is their character's appearance which you'll probably miss behind all the over-played flashy effects.
As for blocking... on 1.0 release you could choose specifically when to block (albeit via a very short term high-block-rate buff) at the cost of using that action time (remember the action bar?) to do that instead of attacking or using a different ability.
See how that was a meaningful decision? You had to choose to do this action at the cost of making another choice. You'd have to weigh up whether you'd be better off mitigating this next hit or getting more damage / some other ability in of your own. On top of that the old combat system made you make these decisions... pretty much every time you pressed a key for combat. It's so far advanced from the current pattern-mashing that you'd wonder how their design philosophy regressed so much.
For the sake of SE the company, the swap for a working game (UI/UX) and making some money was worth it. But for the player... why would you want to do this to yourself? It's virtually a Skinner box disguised as... a Skinner box disguised as a FF game.
In that vein I think a lot of people were left with at least one meaningful choice; Are you sure you want to keep putting in the coin and pulling the lever?