Are the companions bad? There's a lot of positive heresay...here. Say, maybe could I hear about the stuff that isn't so hot. Seems like the consensus is that companions are a bit lackluster but overall the games a smash. I wanna know more. $40 ain't something to be taken lightly.
There are two companions with storylines, but at a relatively early point in the story you can hire whatever kind of companion you want. They're basically generated dudes of each starting class. Here are some things you should consider whether they are negative or not for you:
- The game isn't hard by any means, but on normal it's not a Bethesda game in terms of being able to just walk through anything whenever you want. It's not that kind of game
- Addendum to the previous: areas are generally cordoned by level, and going up against things that are 3+ levels higher than you - while totally possible - is much, much harder so you have to do some walking around to figure out where to go. Again, it's not a handhold-y (at least as much as recent) games
- The starting options of each class are customizable, so you can start a Knight that focuses on Two-Handed and Water Magic or a Fighter who's way into Willpower and Leadership or whatever
- There isn't a grid in the game, so sometimes you have to inch around the battlefield with free-movement to get an angle, or the enemies might sway slightly causing you to waste a round walking next to where their body used to be (pro-tip: aim for the hips)
- Everything is completely valid in every stage of the game, you just have to manage differently for the scenario at hand - i.e. mages aren't wildly overpowered late-game and warriors don't fall off nearly as drastically
- Quests in this game require you to talk to everyone, and do pretty much every single thing to do in an area - not follow quest markers until you receive XP
- Loot is entirely randomized, so you might never find a Unique bow for your archer or plate mail for your fighters and the same is true for skillbooks and items in vendors but most of those refresh over time
- The game isn't afraid of hiding things from you that are only attainable through massive points in the Perception stat - you'll have to find some creative ways around it
- Speaking of which, the game also isn't afraid of kicking your ass over and over again - F5 is your friend
- Crafting is mostly creativity and not books that tell you explicitly for the most part how to make them
- The story isn't the focus, at all, here. The dialogue and writing is mostly fun and the "srsbusnz" stuff isn't worth thinking about longer than looking in your journal
There's a lot more that could be said, but I think those are the real critical points that should be addressed if you're worried about spending $40.