In my current run the companions warmed up to me really quick. I rolled ranger, went with Gale, Wyll, and Shadowheart. Gale and Wyll are super easy on the good path with Shadowheart as the only snarky one. And honestly all it takes for Shadowheart to like you is not crapping on her religion, asking about her life, and not being a brutish murderhobo.
Another thing that is important when playing a video game that has companions and dialogue options is getting to know your companions through dialogue.
Because of the game mechanics (when we meet, we are level one or two), Wyll can't back up his bravado (Blade of the Frontier, Living Legend, yeah right), and Gale's backstory just isn't believable.
On this point, I have to agree, they seem too accomplished already to be lvl ones. I think Larian should use an escamotage like "The tadpole is giving you telepathy, cool, but is weakening you for all the rest".