I can't obviously say everything is perfect about companions in P:K or better, in BG1/2 for a 2020 Larian RPG game. It's part of the things that really needs improvement in BG3.
And of course, I don't need 462 possibilites... This also doesn't mean 462 totally differents play throughs (such as those 20 in DoS doesn't mean 20 completely differents play throughs). I can also sacrifice quantity for quality, but not if there's no more quantity... Don't forget that out of these 20 possibilities, you HAVE to take at least one of the same companions you already took if you play more than once (or twice).
In DoS, the low possibilities of companions choices have a few consequences on what you can do with them, in exemple :
- You have to be able to change their basics classes for players to have a little bit more classes combinations possibilities. This mean you can't go too far in their backgrounds, you have to stay "on the top of it". Nothing can justify they all can use every classes or skills if you think about a realistic and "coherent" world.
- You can't create bad affinities between companions and give them a true personnalities, a true will or true opinions about what the players choose to do with them. They have to agree with everything, they're not real characters following you because they like your paty's decisions.They can't approve or disapprove with players decisions and/or with the personnalities of other companions. Again, this is not correct if you think about coherence of the world.
It gives the feelings that companions are not "real", they're just tools for players to guides gameplay.
I think this was pretty well designed in BG1/2. The teams you choose gave you totally differents moods while you were travelling or reacting to the world's events. Even if their side quests wasn't all on the same quality level, the experience was pretty good in BG2.
That said, and keeping in mind than "possibilities" are a mix between number of companions and party size, I can give you exemples of totally differents play throughts with a little bit more possibilities... - All sorts of alignements parties and interractions between companions. - All sorts of parties classes combinations (no heal, 4 fighters, full wizards, cleric+druids+wizards+2 tanks and 1 support, 2 tanks+2 ranged DPS+2 spellcasters... you have the idea). - Totally differents companions side quests
If I could ask something, I'll ask at least a party size up to 6 maximum and a minimum of 10 differents more deep companions.
This is another reason why I'm not a fan of their "origin characters" concepts... It costs many ressources to add one and it miss lots of elements I care about. Maybe in BG3 origins characters shouldn't be the only one you can pick in your team ? It could be cool to have characters between the random useless mercenaries (useless about any story) and the origin characters that all have the same story as yours.
NB Of course, we heard that in BG3 companions should go away if they dissagree. I really fear it's gonna be about specific situations during the main story and not about the hole journey you're living and how you act. (i.e : you have to choose to fight with or against mindflayers, the vampire wants to embrace their power but the player want to kill them => the vampire join the mindflayers during the fights BUT if you're saving poor villagers again and again against evil creatures during side quests, he'll stay). That brings others questions such as : ok, you lost a companions... But if there's only 2 or 3 substitutes you're choices are even more limited. We definitely need to see more about that and about the sort of alignement they'll implement.