How come you played Dragon Age Origins without companions? They're a huge part of the game imo! Origins to me is some of the best RTWP out there. I'd spend just a little bit of time setting up AI scripts for the companions, and then I let them manage themselves for 90% of the time, just controlling my player character. I'd micro-manage my player character, but not to the extent of having to pause every 3 seconds. And I'd only have to switch to controlling AI companions only rarely, when the s**t really was hitting the fan. There was a nice flow to the battles, it all felt like it had a good pace and still being difficult and tactical enough for me. As I recall, I played on the second highest difficulty. Good times! I really feel that Bioware did a great job with Origins in this regard (and many others), and I couldn't have asked for a better game to be the spiritual successor to Baldur's Gate. Unfortunately combat (amongst other things) felt like it regressed in DA 2 and Inquisition, compared to Origins.
I don't think it says a lot that polls are generally in a slight favour for TB (or if it had been RTWP), I think the telling thing is you got roughly 45% of people that want something else. That's a tough situation for Larian, having almost half (according to polls, the most precise and perfect instrument of knowledge in the universe) of the playerbase already set against them and needed to be turned around & convinced/impressed. Larian's gonna have to deliver their best work yet, under more scrutiny than I'd imagine they've ever faced before.
I doubt Larian has come up against this kind of pressure before, this kind of hype and expectations from fans/players. But if they wanted less of all that, they would've named their game something else. I got a feeling they'll rise to the occasion.