The weird thing about the new trilogy is that the state of the larger galaxy is just absolutely incomprehensible. While the prequels clearly show the might and fall of the Old Republic, the OT depicts the Rebel Alliance defeating Palpatine’s Empire. The obvious next step would probably be showing the struggles of the New Republic or something along those lines.
Instead we got what seems to be two fringe groups of fanatics and has-beens fighting it out in the Outer Rim while the larger galaxy doesn’t really care about any of that until like the last ten minutes of the story.
You kind of just described the OT. We never really see the effect of the Empire on the galaxy at large. Only how it relates to the rebellion and our main characters. The only reason we know of the Empire’s reach is because it’s called “the Empire”. I agree it’s less clear what the scope of the First Order’s power is, but only because their name is more ambiguous.
The OT doesn’t need as much explanation though, because the story is relatively simple. An evil empire rules the entire galaxy, and a brave group of rebels has to stop them. With the sequels, you need more backstory to explain where this mysterious First Order came from, how much influence it has, and why the Resistance is a separate group from the Republic, none of which is explained by the movies. You need to read the EU to find out the basic plot of the sequels, which isn’t a good approach to storytelling.