Yeah, there is a lot of old React stuff, and it’s changes a little (but no where near as drastically as Angular did.)
It took me a couple of tries to find a youtube tutorial to work with my setup. Just keep at it.
Yes, React is a logical leap. It is a different way of thinking about how your code and the screen interact. But there is a reason why these libraries/frameworks are so popular - they are very effective at creating complex systems that work well. Yes, it is a pain. Yes, they are constantly changing.
React is one of the dominant technologies on the scene now. Just look at job postings - look at all the ones that mention React. I assume you want to get hired at some point? Avoiding React (or Angular, etc) will limit your options.
As far as not getting something going, I made this pen a while back to help people get started with React. You can build simple React apps in codepen (as I did for all the FCC DV apps) but it gets complicated as your app gets bigger. Eventually you’ll want to do as prohorova suggests and use create-react-app - it will create a basic working react app for you. But that assumes that you understand basic node, npm, etc.
And eventually you’ll want to learn Redux too, as that is a whole other kettle of fish. And then React Native lets you create apps for mobile devices with your React code. I’m creating my first React Native app right now. It’s basically done and I just have to launch it on Google Play.
Yes, it’s a pain, but it is sooooo worth it. I was really frustrated with the DV section as I had to dig and dig for info on React. But I’m glad I did it. Once you get past the initial “wtf is happening” stage, it gets easier.