It's not the fault from developers though, the problem is that nowadays a game has a full team of marketers and the like on its forefront, most of them without the slightest love or hint on how to make a game, they just know how to make money, and see games as money-making platforms and nothing more, and veer them on that direction alone. There's no pride in building a good game anymore, only sales matter.
That's why you see most games nowadays employing as many ways to get money from you as possible, that's not what developers want to add, that's what marketers want, and as long the money does keep coming in it means that the marketers are in fact doing a good job, even if that means sacrificing the game itself.
Furthermore, the cost of making a game nowadays is incomparable to 20 years ago.
A single person was expected to be able to do all sorts of things: textures, maps, perhaps even coding.
Nowadays however, games became so complex to do that each thing has its own specialization, and a single person is expected either to only do textures, or only coding, and the like.
While for a map, now you need a full team on top of it, with each person doing a very specialized thing as well.
After all, even something "simple" like a texture nowadays takes a lot of work: the resolution must be much higher than before, and you need to make not 1, not 2, but 3+ different images in different ways for the same texture: the texture itself, the bump or normal map and even specular and other kinds of mapping depending on the engine (such the places in the texture which should "glow" as bloom).
Not only that, because of this, what we call simply a "texture" in UE1 for example, has so many variations and components nowadays that artists/developers were forced to come up with a new name for its most basic form: "diffuse map". So nowadays a texture is a bunch of "maps" joined together by the engine in runtime.
Hence, when you see a new game with anything more than 6 maps, that's already quite an achievement nowadays, as a single map takes a lot more effort to create these days than every single UT99 map combined.
If an Unreal game was made using Unreal Engine 4 in the way it was expected to behave and look from using such an engine, it's my belief that it would take no less than 3+ years to develop, and a shit ton of money to support throughout all that time and a huge team, and no matter how cool it could be in the end, it's just too much money and time for any studio to go ahead and go like "fuck it, we'll do it", the stakes are much higher economically nowadays, hence generally studios take a more sure and quick way to get money, at the cost from developing more grandiose games instead.
Good quality gaming these days by the standards of an old timer such as yourself is only generally achievable by sticking with older games and modifying them instead towards what you envision, or to simply go Indie and develop something new in a newer engine, but using older methodologies (because in newer engines you're not forced to do any of this however, but if you don't, games end up looking like shit).