Heh, just like VC1, where optional cutscenes were marked with an asterisk. For those not in the know it's a history book this time unlike the journalist's memoir from VC1. In VC3 it was an intelligence briefing through film. VC2 didn't have any of that cause the game doesn't exist.
So I just cleared chapter 1 and while it was still mostly breezy easy, there were a few enemies in the final map that did super fast/crazy damage if you didn't take cover or use smoke grenades.
The most fun I've had so far is when the game forces you to actually use all the tools at your disposal to effectively take out squads without getting super damaged. I'm hoping that happens more often the further I get in.
So the book structure is still there, but you don't actually start in the book. When you go back to the book to rewatch cutscenes etc, you'll find optional cutscenes that you can watch that'll flesh things out. If you don't wanna watch them, you can just mainline the story. It's kind of neat.
I definitely hope resource management comes more into play later where you're forced to give more direct orders and such. And maybe they nerfed Amleth's Rush Blaze.