Christopher Park of Arcen Games thinks the Grand New AI update is big enough to be considered the equal of a whole new sequel release. I don’t know if that’s overselling it, but at 29 pages, the patch notes certainly back his case. Heck, the blog summary is longer than many other games’ overhaul patch notes.
“The AI is… well, scarier. They have more strength in more places, more variance in how they place things, and so on.”
Is the game harder now? Yes and no. There are a ton of interface improvements to reduce player friction, and the pace has been adjusted to give the player a chance out of the gate, but the titular AI is more unpredictable and can use so-called “fire teams” that can act independently from the greater strategic plan. It’s a trade-off that creates the illusion of an AI that is invested in thwarting you, while not overwhelming the player. When it trounces you, just remember that it’s not personal.