Significant changes, yes. Less Grindy? Unclear.
They added zombie helpers you could assign to roles, e.g. I’m not clear what all the roles they can be assigned to are as I haven’t tried the game since way before there were zombie helpers. But at the least they can do some tasks like alchemy mixing or transporting stuff. Also, alchemy got less “you can’t possibly do this without looking at a guide” (old: mixture failures gave you some goo; now they hint at how close you are to a recipe or somesuch), although to me it still looked like you’d be checking a guide regardless.
I may give it another try. I’m really not very interested in the DLC (which it sounds like is sort of a separate thing; e.g. you won’t be running the church and a tavern at the same time). But if I do I’ll be consulting a guide because I don’t want to stub my toe on all the gates this time.