With the launch of the early access program for the Star Wars: The Old Republic expansion, Knights of the Fallen Empire, a big change will be coming to the companion system that can be boiled down to the change from gaining "affection" to earning "influence". The more influence, the more power a companion has which has a direct relationship to companion damage, healing, and health.
In addition, the base tradeskill bonuses each companion has had prior to the launch of KotFE are being removed as players felt restricted to the "right companion for the right job". By removing inherent tradeskill bonuses, it is hoped that players will utilize all characters to max level.
The final part of the blog goes into great (and relatively spoiler-free) detail about how players will be working to build an Alliance where choices made can have true impact on the way the story plays out:
Opposing the might of the Eternal Empire is not something that one can do alone. One of your major underlying goals throughout the Knights of the Fallen Empire story epic will be to build an Alliance capable of loosening (and maybe even breaking!) the Eternal Empire's grip over the galaxy.
- Recruit Companions From Other Classes: As you seek to build your Alliance, you will meet a host of characters, both new faces and old friends, including many of the origin class story Companion characters. In most cases, these Companions can potentially be recruited by members of any class, though some Companions may be less willing than others to so readily overlook old grudges.
- Choices that Matter: Just as in the Knights of the Fallen Empire Chapters (and in some cases moreso), your decisions within Alliance content can have a considerable impact upon story outcomes. As a result of your actions, Companions may be rejected, rendered unavailable, or even killed.
- The New Star Fortress Flashpoint: Make contact with local resistance cells on six of the core worlds, aiding their local efforts to rid their worlds of the Eternal Empire's Orbital Star Fortresses. Assault the Star Fortresses over each world once you've established local support!
It is a comprehensive read and well worth a few moments to read which can, of course, be accomplished on the Star Wars: The Old Republic site.