The other night I had the experience of offing Shadowheart immediately for the first time on the Nautiloid. She went instantly hostile after being released from her pod, I think because I had accidentally whacked one of the experiment bodies lying on the ground nearby for that 1 xp, and so I guess that must have pissed her off?
The artifact floated up with a choice to "take it, or leave it..." How apt! lol
Origin Companions are pretty lame as a concept. They smack of the DM trying to noodle into the party to show off their own Player Character ideas or to influence the party's decisions directly by becoming part of it, when that's not really the DMs job. It's better when that energy goes into developing compelling Non Player Characters or Villains that the party is meant to face down.
Sure in BG1/2 the designers had to supply us with companions, since everyone knew it was basically a single player game at bedrock. The internet still barely existed when it came out, and the idea that you were going to have a LAN session with any more than like one other person at a time was kind of laughable. But the way they approached Companion design (especially in BG1) still seemed tasteful and tactful. They were just broad sketches on class archetypes and a dime a dozen, with only the bare minimum fleshed out in terms of characterization. They didn't overshadow the protagonist, because there just wasn't enough there to cast a very long shadow in the first place.
In BG2 this changed somewhat. The companion characters loomed larger, and there was the suggestion of a "Canonical" party carrying over from BG1, (certainly not the party I used in BG1) and it began to feel like if you didn't bring along certain companions, you'd be missing out on a fairly significant amount of game content. Even with more VA work though, the companions in BG2 were still more 'throw-away' than the Origins seem to be here, and at least there were more than a dozen to choose from.
That said, Larian clearly went through a lot of trouble of making these 5 Origin companions for the EA, and from the splash screens and all the promo art it's obvious they really want us to play with them. I mean take away the Origins, and there's not much art left to even define what the game is about. Seriously, if you axe Lae'zel and Shadowheart and the Origin companions in that banner above, what's left?
Get rid of the Origins, and there is literally no promo Art for this game left lol.
Not to get too left field here, but I'm pretty disappointed with the promotional art direction for this game for that reason. I've heard a lot of people saying AAA this and that, but honestly I feel like a AAA studio would have hired a couple illustrators and updated their banners and splash art by now. Show us something else? I know it's probably a pain to get art approved by the Wizards, but if they can't do it with the 2D illustration, then maybe let your 3D modellers go to town with it instead? Show us the BG3 Monstrous Manual in splash, some equipment, some environments? Pretty much anything other than that same Struzan style banner with the Origins characters again for the thousandth time.
It would be like if BG1 and BG2 just kept showing the same screens over and over, with Imoen and Jaheira, Edwin, Viconia, and Misc... each doing their "best pose" hehe. Nothing in the BG1 or BG2 promo art indicated a particular party or set of characters that the game was about. They just showed off the Realms and Dragons and general D&D type stuff. This game needs more of that, and less of these Origins. But since they're already here... You'd think the least they could do is have a party size large enough to accommodate them all in single run.
It really feels like the game is not being designed for full party control at all, but more like co-op double dragon, where we're just supposed to control our MC and maybe 1 other hanger on. Anything more and the weight of UI snafus is just crushing. I want them to aim for 6, not just because that would be more BG, but also because it would force fixes for all the other things that currently give me headaches. 6 throws that stuff in starker relief, so perhaps they'd actually have to address it, instead of sweeping it all under the rug.
Returning briefly to a previous conversation, 6 is sentimental, sure, but it's also a pretext and challenge for the developers. Just to ensure that the UI and broader game actually works for a larger party and doesn't fall apart into total chaos at that scale. Right now I believe the extended party mod is totally busted since patch 5, because of how the rest mechanic works, but prior to that, by playing with 6, you can see what works well and what really doesn't. Like not just with inventory management or the chain, but for a whole host of little things that could use improvement. Capped at 4 they are just barely skirting by with it, so I really don't think mods will be able to fix everything if it comes out of EA like this. The developer has to provide more support. I don't get it. Even purely from an optics standpoint, a Party of 6 would differentiate BG3 from Solasta, and shore up the constant refrains of BG3 feeling more like a sequel to DOS2 or Dragon Age than Baldur's Gate.