They seem to have expected some things, though, see adding pets with aquatic damage (gun and ooze) aswell as a resistant cockroach to stop us from cheesing everything with elementals. Yet, a fact their damage output is low combined with shields not checking for racial damage means this mechanic prevents a lot as you mentioned. The last boss has got an ability to remove basic shields so perhaps that was not in oblivion either… unlike the reactive damage. Also, an ability that forces swap altogether with an ability which prevents from being swapped, including critters? I can't say I like it.
The quality of captured wild pets is random. As of patch 5.1, upon entering a battle the Pet Battle UI shows the quality of a wild pet (idicated by a color-coded border around its icon). If you're farming a specific quality, if you forfeit the match your team will incur a small damage penalty (roughly 10%). There is no accurate way to determine a pet's quality prior to the start of a battle.
It was the experience of the game that brought pleasure and joy, and that's what a lot of us want again. Not the numbers. When I play Classic I want to go through the deadmines with people I like and overcome a challenge together and see myself become stronger as a result. I don't want to play Classic so I can say "booyah! That number is exactly the same as it was 13 years ago!"