Regardless of your choices, everyone always goes to the same place, meets the same people, yadda-yadda, boring. It is the hope of many people that when the Alliance finally dies we can go back to our different factions, something which has been hinted at as a possible option (although as it's 'possible' this may imply that continuing the Alliance is itself a possible choice).
In the absence of anything more 'serious', I content myself by thinking of 'ideal' Companion teams which I'd like to construct from the available Companions if ever the choice emerges to reduce the number of characters in our over-substantive Companion lists. I am not imagining for a second that this would become an option, but it's nice to dream.
Now that talk is turning to more original Companions returning, starting with Raina Temple in 5.6, this thinking is in my mind more prevalent than it ever was, so because nobody asked for it, here are my choices for personalised Companion lists. The lists I have come up with only include those characters who could be given to use as part of the Story; Cartel Companions, Reward Companions, etc. don't count because having gone to the effort of acquiring these Companions it is unlikely that people will choose to get rid of them.
These are in no way indicative of who I think fits best with all characters as a base; my choices for my Hunter are not what I'm saying all Hunters should aim to have by their sides. Accounting for the sheer amount of options which may become illogical due to personality clashes or even disagreement with philosophies and choices is impossible. Similarly, I am of the opinion that some characters should remain Class-specific, and I'll get to those when I get to those.
For example, all of my Imperial and Republic characters will be aligning with their original faction and not have anybody change sides; thus, all of the characters who would ordinarily despise the Empire would have no problem joining up with, say, my Jedi Knight. This would be very different from somebody whose Knight defected, thus potentially drawing the ire of staunch Republic patriots and freedom fighters.
Anyway, I've prattled on long enough. On with the list.
Vhiallia has had her ups-and-downs in her short 'lifetime'. Originally I had intended to keep her completely neutral, thus she ended up making quite a few Dark decisions - such as angering Koth Vortena enough that he quit - alongside the as-expected Light ones. With the advent of the new Dark vs. Light system, retaining Neutrality is all but impossible, so she has changed to being fully-Light-side.
Because Vhiallia is an Instant-60, I understandably never got to see how her original Companions interacted with her and so I only have my own inaccurate ideas of each one to base my perceptions off of. As a foreword: I personally do not particularly like a single Consular Companion. In spite of this, I'm trying to look at this as objectively as possible.
Nadia Grell is an obvious choice to keep around, since training under the generic Jedi Consular is one of her father Tobias's wishes. Another obvious choice is Qyzen Fess, who we know still perceives her as the Barsen'thor. Tharan Cedrax... I dunno. I don't see him as being a particularly crucial character for the Consular in general, but at the same time I just don't know who out there would actually be willing to take him on-board their own crew. So I guess he gets the pity-point.
Felix Iresso's future under Vhiallia to me depends entirely upon what he ends up doing beyond her disappearance; it is entirely possible that he has a fully-fledged career in the Republic Military and has thus 'outgrown' her. Similarly with Zenith, who we apparently almost saw as a more 'serious' resistance fighter rallying forces on Nar Shaddaa; it seems that his stint as leader of the opposition didn't work out for very long.
For new Companions to the team who are already in-game, I really don't know what to think. Ithorian Jedi Choza Raabat is really the only obvious choice I can draw from the pile, and he's a very minor character! Maybe T7-O1...? The only other one who stands out to me as a possible option is Talos Drellik, since his expertise with Sith Artefacts could come in very handy to someone studying how the Sith operate from a philosophical standpoint, but then would Talos really want to work with the Republic and give up unearthing Sith Artefacts and working with the Imperial Reclamation Service?
For yet-to-return Companions, I want to say that Corso Riggs - who wanted to help as many people as possible - would gladly consider tagging along with Vhiallia given her pre-scripted history as a benevolent Jedi Healer. I would leap on my statement about Healers here to gripe about how the Consular needs an actually-qualified field medic but this has murky waters which affects roughly half of the eight Classes and will come to bite Imperials in the posterior, so, y'know, it's not an easy problem to solve.
Kira Carsen could also be a potential inclusion here, since the Consular is very familiar with the Children of the Emperor. We don't know what could have become of the Children with Vitiate's final demise; we know that his enforced slumber drove some of them insane, so there could be some potential to delve more into their psyche and help to finally 'free' them all. Kira, being the most free of them, won't be subject to the same stress which her siblings potentially could be, but it would still be interesting to know to what extent even a former Child could sense and be impacted by the Emperor's true death.
So, yeah. I don't know if I'm particularly thick or anything but I just really do not know what team I could construct which would best suit a Consular outside of making good on last testaments and Trandoshan codes of honour.
My Jedi Guardian Miorahna is pretty much the staple Jedi Knight; light-side, honourable, defender of the Republic, yadda-yadda-yadda. I have no shame in admitting this fact, as it does at least make it very easy to work out what suits her and what doesn't.
Perhaps the only original Knight Companion I would have second thoughts about is Rusk. Of all the Knight Companions, he is definitely the most uninteresting, but then it is sorta nice to have a simple Soldier thrown in among the plucky Astromech, the sarcastic Padawan, the charismatic Scoundrel, and the "you're-literally-going-to-die-if-you-don't-listen-to-me" Sith. At the same time, it's not as if there aren't other "simple Soldier" options to replace Rusk with, so... I dunno.
Of the current new Companions I can see Senya Tirall and Arcann willingly sticking around and aiding her, since the Jedi Knight in general is probably the archetypal 'forerunner' character and is nearly always guaranteed to be needed on the front lines. If Koth hasn't grown tired of war then maybe he'd stick around too. Much like Vhiallia, I'd happily sign Choza onto her team as well, since of course true Jedi need to stick together!
Of the yet-to-return Companions I can see Zenith gladly signing up because as I say the Knight is pretty much guaranteed to be where there's action, and he'd welcome any and every opportunity he can get to hit the Empire. Corso would also likely sign up if he is aware of the good Miora and all Republic-aligned Knights have the potential to do while not swinging their Lightsabers on the battlefield. If Nadia has become a fully-fledged Jedi and no longer in need of training as her father desired then she could be a decent candidate as well. Fellow Consular Companion Iresso could also be a good match for her, although she wouldn't be as helpful with figuring out the purpose of the Artefact in his head compared to Vhiallia.
Much like Miorahna, my Vanguard Jehnira is exactly what you'd expect from a Trooper. The above statements regarding this trope-matching don't need repeating.
The Trooper is in an interesting position Companion-wise. All of their Companions have returned at some point in the Story, and yet only two of them - M1-4X and Yuun - are guaranteed permanent-for-now recruits once you re-encounter them. Tanno Vik's gone no matter what, Aric Jorgan can be kicked out or killed, and Elara Dorne can leave of her own accord even if you side with the Republic if she disagrees with your past actions.
I haven't yet taken Jehn through Fallen Empire, but as you can probably guess I do not intend to drive either Aric or Elara away, so the only one she'll lose for sure and need to replace is Tanno Vik. This then becomes the main focus of choosing which Companions are eligible to potentially join the reformed Havoc Squad, although this is assuming that Yuun is persuaded to re-enlist in the Republic Military.
If not, then that's another factor and character to be considered, although I think T7 could happily fill the gap left by Yuun more than anyone else.
Replacements for Tanno - an explosives expert - are very difficult to comfortably locate in the remaining Companions, both those who are already a part of the Alliance and those who are yet to return. Fideltin Rusk is the only person who I can perhaps see getting this particular position, since he has had experience with heavy weaponry and is already a part of the Republic Military.
There is another person to consider here, one who is neither a new Companion nor a yet-to-return Companion. New-Havoc under Jorgan loses four of its six members, leaving Jorgan and an unknown survivor left. Depending on who this New-Havoc member is - we still don't know - they themselves could be eligible to become the new explosives expert, or they could clash with another character and therefore be a redundant character.
The perils of not giving enough thought to situations.
Calph, being a Smuggler, has no real loyalties to either side. She isn't a huge fan of the Empire, but then - having taken control of the pirate fleet after killing Harridax Kirill - she hasn't made that many friends in the Republic, either. Unless you count siding with them instead of the Empire, but then a Smuggler being the main character since Fallen Empire makes no sense no matter which way you try and look at it.
For her original Companions, the only one I would perhaps pause for thought on is Corso Riggs. Having come to have an immense dislike for Corso over the years, I'm none-too-keen on the eventual reunion, although this would finally enable me to see the "I'm-with-somebody-else" scene for myself because Cal has a new romance pursuit: Koth Vortena, who therefore has an automatic placement on the consolidated crew.
Everyone else from the original team is very welcome back into the fold.
For the newcomers, given her freelancer tendencies Cal's team would undoubtedly benefit from Companions from both Factions who share a similar "not-on-either-side" perspective. The only one who is an "obvious answer" who I can't include here is Kaliyo Djannis, since I've kicked her out of the Alliance on every single character to have progressed through Fallen Empire since she is one of my least favourite characters in the entire game.
Of the current Companions, Gault Rennow and Vette are already pretty much there. Not only do they work great as a partnership and make a fair amount of money as we've seen but Vette has a mutual friend with the Smuggler; Risha Drayen. I really hope that there's going to be a reunion scene between the two long-term friends, but I sadly have my doubts. Meanwhile the Skadge Cal interacted with is dead, and although I do adore Blizz, I just cannot see his constant tinkering aboard the XS Freighter being tolerated by either Cal or Risha.
Andronikos Revel is the only yet-to-return Companion I can really see fitting in well with Calph's crew. Of the only two others who I could perhaps see working with the Smuggler if I tried hard enough, Zenith wouldn't see the Smuggler as a good vassal for his wrath against the Empire, and I think Risha would probably despise Mako always coming up with 'better' tech and slicing advice thanks to her holo-net implant.
Since I'm still taking my new Powertech Phirella (the third) through her Class Story, I don't yet have enough material to work out what her in-game personality could be fully yet. I do, however, have an idea of where she'll roughly end up, but I just don't know what differences from previous outings will occur along the way. So, much like Vhiallia, most of this section is based off of prior experiences rather than what she herself actually 'did'.
I doubt I'm alone when I say that Skadge is the only one of her original Companions who won't be making a return trip. Sure, he gains a lot of underworld connections as of Fallen Empire, so there is a strong argument that anyone who keeps him actually has something of a powerful ally in Skadge. However, is this really worth enduring the walking tumour for all time, when so many Hunters have turned around and said "I want him dead" throughout the years? I personally don't believe so, since I like to think of the Hunter as a lone agent with her small crew, not tied to working for a particular organisation for more than a few weeks at most.
For the current Companions, I can see "Deadeye" Leyta fitting in quite well with Phirella's lifestyle, especially as she is one of the most like-minded Companions compared with an average Hunter. Considering that Qyzen used to be a Bounty Hunter and even worked alongside Mako and every Hunter's mentor Braden he might be a good permanent fit as well, although he'd more often than not hunt creatures rather than bounties...
For yet-to-return Companions, my thoughts are largely similar to those which I wrote for Calph, just eliminating any chance of Zenith even thinking of working with Phi, given that it is possible for Hunters to assassinate the Chancellor and of course she'll be siding with the Empire anyway.
Since my Sniper Pippera was my Main back when Fallen Empire launched, most of my thinking about ideal Companion teams started while she was the main focus. Since this time, most of my thoughts haven't changed, although there have been a few developments since at the time this thinking began we were still waiting for Chapter X to be delivered.
Of her original Companions, SCORPIO's immediately out due to events of Eternal Throne - not that I'd want her back anyway - and as I already said during Calph's segment because Kaliyo has yet to not be kicked out of the Alliance she's no longer a concern. Yes, this does mean that I sided with a Republic Special Forces soldier instead of the character who had been with Pip since the start, and no, I don't care.
Everyone else is staying.
This entire thinking process all began because I was thinking of the best theoretical team from a "Connections" standpoint. If there was somebody in a position in a sector of any importance it was for the best to get them on her side, thus meaning that Pip will have her foot in the door of as many places as possible which is very useful for an Intelligence Operative. This also pertains to her original Companions Raina Temple and Vector Hyllus; since Aristocra Saganu and the Chiss Expansionary Defence Force are confirmed to be returning in 5.6 it is clear that Temple forgoes her Intelligence training and returns there, although I hope that Vector is still a part of the Imperial Diplomatic Service. Regardless, both are very useful for their various connections.
Anyway. From the current Companions I would keep Majors Malavai Quinn and Pierce for their links to the Imperial Military, Talos for his link to the Imperial Reclamation Service (you never know when it could come in handy!), Torian Cadera for his link to the Mandalorians (although since Mand'alor herself has joined us supposedly for all time, is this diplomatic link really going to be necessary going forward?), and - shudder - Skadge for his links to the Black Sun. As I stated earlier, Skadge can be quite a formidable ally as of Fallen Empire to certain people. Xalek is also an option considering that a fully-fledged Sith Lord such as he is a truly formidable ally.
Since Pip is herself a member of Sith Intelligence it is not necessary to keep Lana Beniko as a Companion since there are probably more links to the organisation that we haven't yet seen for an Agent through past Imperial Intelligence connections. Lana's still very much the newcomer compared to any single Agent character in my mind, although this is more due to the fact that Lana's pre-Forged Alliances history hasn't really been made known to us yet.
For the yet-to-return Companions, again I think I have to fall back onto my apparent safety option and say Andronikos, since like Skadge he has some connections to the criminal underworld and has a vast understanding of hyperspace routes which could be invaulable to an Agent who is undercover or is trying to flee from pursuers.
Unlike my Guardian and Vanguard, my Sorcerer Vahnora is the antithesis of a staple Sith Inquisitor. She's full Light-Side. This does create an interesting dynamic with two of her original Companions, and I'm fairly sure a lot of her potential Companions would be surprised to come across a Light Sith.
Of her original Companions, all of them will be welcome back with open arms. Whilst Khem Val is one of those who I would describe as 'problematic' the fact that he is bound to her makes him an automatic re-acquisition no matter what; after all, there's not much he can do about that fact.
Some of you will have been reading my choices for Consular and Knight and noticed some conspicuous absences, one of whom is Ashara Zavros. The main reason why I did not include Ashara as a possible Companion for either my Consular or my Knight is because we just don't know what effects the Inquisitor's teachings will have had on the default Ashara; it is possible that she may distrust both Jedi characters and perceive them as judging her for her potential neutrality, but it is equally possible that she'll approach them and aid them willingly, glad to be back in the 'safe' arms of the Jedi.
The only characters who we can potentially estimate how Ashara will respond to them are our own Inquisitors. We've all had different approaches to her; some of us have twisted her mind through the Dark Side, and some of us have persuaded her that the Force is neither Light nor Dark through words alone. No matter what, I have a sneaking suspicion that BioWare will probably take the easy route and say "hey, Ahsoka's popular, right? How'd you like Ashara to be very, very similar?", because adhering to Star Wars tropes is totally not a thing in The Old Republic. Isn't that right miniature-Superweapon #12?
For the current Companions, as with Vhiallia I honestly don't know who I'd choose for Vahnora. Veeroa Denz is a potential option if she can be 'persuaded' to stick around - considering that she apparently desires to leave the Alliance and go back to a life in the shadows once Zakuul is dealt with, so technically she should have left already - as is Ak'ghal Usar. However, I don't think Khem would take kindly to this other Dashade, so there'll be tears before bedtime if ever the two interact. Pierce and Quinn could be decent choices as well, since at least that way this would allow a Dark Councillor such as Vahn to increase the size of her power-base through more entwined links to the Imperial Military. Similarly, links to the Mandalorians and Sith Intelligence wouldn't be useless either...
I honestly don't think a single Companion who has yet to return would willingly stick around with Vahn even with her Light-sided tendencies. I am intrigued in knowing how she'd react to Scourge, but not nearly as fascinated as I would be for him to interact with the eighth and final character...
...Although my Juggernaut Ferok'ia would undoubtedly annoy him since again she's not a typical Sith Warrior but is, like Vahnora, completely Light-Sided. Yes, I know, I have seven Light-Siders and only one Dark-Sider, I bring shame to the Empire just by existing.
Of Ferok'ia's original Companions, the only one I would not keep is Broonmark. Broonmark is a complete menace and quite honestly brings nothing to the table which another character would be unable to bring. He's just a lump of muscle; he should join the club currently consisting of Ak'ghal Usar, Bowdaar, K'krohl, Rokuss, and Skadge.
Speaking of original Warrior Companions, Jaesa Willsaam is another one of those who people will probably be saying "I think she'd work well with the Jedi...". Again, it honestly depends on how they handle the default Jaesa, if indeed she's made available to anyone but the Warrior. Hers is the most difficult story to work out a universal remedy to, and much like Ashara it is possible that she'd willingly go back to the Jedi and it's also possible that she would completely distrust them throughout.
Still, I'm interested in seeing how they bring her back eventually.
For current Companions, I think Veeroa, Lana, and Xalek would all be decent assets for her own power base as the maybe-maybe-not-former Empire's Wrath, since the more Sith Lords she can get on her side the better and especially because Lana has those Sith Intelligence connections which nobody else in her potential arsenal will have. Since she is choosing Vette over Torian this does mean that she'd be losing links to the Mandalorians, but it's not as if she won't have this anyway due to - as mentioned earlier - Mand'alor's persistent presence.
For the yet-to-return Companions, I have no interest in meeting anyone with Ferok'ia other than Scourge, because I really want to know how not only the two former Emperor's Wraths would interact with each other, but also how the Empire itself reacts to Scourge; is he considered a traitor for abandoning the Empire, or is he considered something of a hero for helping to expose the Emperor's plot? If so, how much does his decision to temporarily 'defect' to the Jedi help or hinder things? Are the Emperor's Hand still active, and if so how would they react to Scourge's return?
There are more questions than these, but you should get my point. Scourge has a lot of potential without having even appeared yet, so I hope that it's made good on in at least a tiny way.
Aside: The Healer Debacle
Whilst I'm talking about Companion teams, it's time to make good on the statement regarding Healers I made during the paragraph about Vhiallia.
When it comes to looking at the Companions who are designated as the default Healers for each character, it surely can't have escaped many people's attention that only three are actual qualified medics, or at least have been in the past. These characters are Archiban "Doc" Kimble, Eckard Lokin, and Elara Dorne.
This creates something of a conundrum when it comes to working out a complete Companion list, since in my opinion this means that only four Classes which follow their expected ideals can realistically have a fully-fledged medic by their side; the two Jedi, the Trooper, and the Agent.
Doc is the most flexible of these Companions. Having had substantive experience working in the field - and despite not being enrolled in the Military - he is the most likely candidate who can replace Elara Dorne for Troopers if she decides to quit. He is also probably the more 'realistic' option for Consulars due to Dorne's overarching duties as a combat medic in the Military potentially clashing with joining a non-Military crew full-time. This, combined with Doc's status as default Knight healer, also makes it hard for Elara to feasibly become the Knight's main Healer.
Doc could also potentially work well with the Smuggler, especially as many a male Smuggler is played almost exactly how Doc is personified. The biggest thing preventing me from saying that the two are a definite potential partnership is that Doc probably wouldn't get the same self-satisfaction and ego-boost that he gets from saving people while aiding someone in the spotlight as much as the Jedi Knight is. Furthermore, I think one smooth-talking overly-confident bragger is enough for one ship, and I don't think many Smugglers would appreciate Doc's incessant 'helping' with personal relations.
If Dorne does not quit the Trooper team, then there realistically is no one better for them as the assigned medic. Not only would it mean that the Trooper keeps their default medic, but there would be no clash since I'm fairly sure she would be allowed by her superiors to join a nascent reforming Havoc Squad rather than owe her duties elsewhere.
Lokin is one of those characters who I believe is best left as Class-specific even though he can be recruited by everyone. As a very private retired operative there is pretty much nothing which he can bring to any other character that nobody else can bring (apart from his Rakghouls), and as Agents can potentially start to uncover he is one of the more subtly-dangerous individuals in the entire game since they are the only character he's realistically likely to open up to. It's best for him to be tied to a character who is not only familiar with him but also his former line of work; I'm concerned that Lokin could be just a little too subversive for most other characters' liking and I don't like the idea of him being left largely unchecked.
So when it comes down to it, for all the bluster and power base growth my potential Companion teams can theoretically offer to my characters, they are pretty much left without adequate medical coverage; the Imperials are worst off here because they only have one qualified medic, and I'm keeping him locked to one character. Even then, his medical capabilities have deteriorated over the years, so even he's not truly-reliable!
Yes, I know that everyone can Heal as an in-game role, but I just think it far more sensible to make everyone's combat-role match what they can 'realistically' do if not what they used to do prior to 4.0 (although Guss Tuno is an impossible case here since he suddenly sprouts Force Powers no matter his role despite the game practically telling you "he can't actually use the Force"...). I don't know about anyone else, but I certainly wouldn't fancy turning up to a hospital for a life-saving operation and being tended to by a team of doctors with the delicate touch of Khem Val...
So, this is just another insight into how I have improbable hopes for the future of this game. I must reiterate again that this is not how I think all Players should structure their lists - after all, I'm fairly sure more than a few Players would be keeping Lana and/or Theron on all their characters if they could and my decision to keep kicking Kaliyo out is likely not to be shared by many people - but is just how I would choose to structure the lists for my own troupe of characters if given the opportunity based on their own decisions and 'personalities'.
I would absolutely love to have the ability to cut down on Companions - although Sub-Rewards and "Non-Story-Essential" Companions like HK-51 and Treek will almost certainly be exempt from this culling - and to create a more personalised Companion list for all of my characters. This is not to say that I intend to give all of my characters a completely unique list. That's almost impossible considering the amount of Companions who I think have good potential with other characters while also potentially staying with their original Class. Just look at the amount of Classes I said Andronikos could be a good match for besides staying with the Inquisitor.
It is worth stressing again that for a lot of these Companions we just don't know how they'll have changed since our separation from them. A good number of them might have outgrown their original Class or even changed their outlook on life entirely. Whether or not such developments are logical progressions is more subjective and objective, and this will certainly have a very severe impact on Ashara Zavros, Jaesa Willsaam, and Khem Val no matter what.
I'm looking forward to reuniting with a good number of these characters, even if in some cases it's just to slap them round the face and call them an idiot at long last. I'm not thinking of anyone in particular, though...