I'm really pleased to hear companions, in their current form, have been removed from Diablo 3. They simply didn't fit the mood. I quite like wit in games, but wit is inconsonant with the cute and, sorry for saying so, goofy humor of companions, as implemented. And yet, I imagine they were a necessity in the beta (judging by the play-throughs I've watched) because of the functionality they offered. While I'm not vehemently, or even moderately, opposed to the re-introduction of companions--at least, companions that fit the tone of Diablo--as tradable collectors' items, I'd personally prefer if Blizzard, rather than developing the companion system, labored on other aspects of and additions to the game.
BTW, Blizzard, I think the new skill system is not only inventive and a major step forward, but inspired, even brilliant. D2 is probably my favorite game ever. Yet it wasn't without its aggravations. D3 seems to address most of D2's annoying shortcomings. Thank you.
P.S. If Blizzard wants a former Professor of English (Ph.D. in Early Modern literature and culture, now disabled with a spinal disease) and scholarly editor to do a final proof of its game script, let me know. --Free, of course, and with any necessary legal non-disclosure agreements.