Which is surprising, to me anyway.
Most of the changes are actually for the better. Media outlets and CA themselves have been touting them up as some grand revolution of the Total War fomular and no, just no, they're pretty minor in the grand scheme of things but most of them at least don't fall flat on their faces.
Agents being removed for example. I still wish they'd go back to making agents fun by giving them little cutscenes where they succeed or fail in the most hilarious ways (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57lygszJPfc) instead of just deleting them, but its still better than the past few games where they didn't give you anything fun, just 3 billion pop ups a turn and weak passive effects. Its incredible how much their removal actually speeds up gameplay.
Or the new recruitment. I love it. Its so much more logical and not just for the time period either. You can't just spawn an army consisting entirely of the most elite troops at the drop of a hat anymore. The best part is it also applies to the AI, so wars take actual planning now instead of devolving into a drawn out merry go round running to the Benny Hill theme song. Battles actually matter. 3/4ths of your army getting decimated actually matters. Its great.
The only thing I can really brand a step back is the AI, while decent on the campaign map (haven't seen any full retard moves yet though doubtlessly they're coming) is terribad in battles. Like, back to Rome 2 levels.
The Warhammer games were pretty much saved by their awesome setting and would have been shoddy as fuck if stripped of that, TOB stands on its own legs as it were. I'm very impressed. Not back to Medieval 2 levels of greatness yet - they need to revamp settlements completely for that - but getting there. I think its perhaps the first time since Shogun 2 where I don't feel like the new Total War game is a step down in terms of gameplay.
Okay, wanted to get some time into the game before I gave my opinion.
Firstly this is only the fourth total war game I have ever played. I played about 3 hours of total war: empires, 200 hours of total warhammer, and 150 hours of total warhammer 2. Having said all that:
1. There is not enough to differentiate between factions.
2. There are serious problems with the construction options WRT farms, certain factions just seem able to field giant amounts of units while others cannot even maintain a single stack. (the update will likely make it much worse)
3. I want to play as the Welsh since I had always envisioned my british ancestors ash fishermen as opposed to the boring fekkin farmers from the northeast they actually were. Wales is really handicapped though due to the aforementioned lack of farmland.
4. Kinda fun to play as the sea kings.
fuck those timeouts that are all popping around now