I just spent 30 hours playing over the weekend. Yeah, a lot changed. First off, you fucking die ALL the god damn time. The npc AI are outright bastards now.
Message me if you need help, I just figured out how to get Engineers going. I think you stopped even before the Galactic Powers released.
Short answer, buy a planetary landing module. They can fit into a class 2 slot. Once you get that, you buy the scarabs (rover) like ammunition. If you die while in one, you just warp back to your ship, so it's not a total pain in the ass.
Engineers require you to play pretty much all aspects of the game. You search signals and salvage parts (stay the fuck away from threat level 4...I found 0 works great for me, much less dying). Use the scarab to mine on planet surfaces for crafting materials. Do missions for special materials you see when they pop up. Finally, certain mats need to be bought from certain stations (mine intro one for Farseer was 400ly away).
It's a huge pain in the ass, but as far as SPACE SIM goes, this is perfect. I also just started replaying it again after a 6 month hiatus. Flying an Asp too, as it has a far jump and only $1 mill insurance.