For the record, I play on normal level (not story / easy level). I don't mind fighting and even losing battles where I might have to reload a bunch of times to figure out how to win those battles, but I want the best party with the best equipment, etc. I play simply for my own enjoyment, not to somehow drive myself to "master" the game... I just want to get through it. I also usually create my own party of characters because it is easy to roll better characters than the ones we have the option of finding in the game. While this results in me having a good, strong party, it also means that I miss on most interactions and quests that go along with adding various NPCs to your party. I usually leave one slot open to add an NPC... that I have to carry, because they usually don't carry their own weight compared to the rolled characters I have in my party... but even that severely hampers the "story telling" aspects of the game. For example, I can't add pairs of characters, or get the achievements for having certain combinations of characters in my party.
Again, I understand the "richness" of the storytelling aspects of the game with the NPCs but, honestly, I don't think that there is a single one I would pick "in real life" to go on adventures with because I wouldn't be able to count on them to survive, or fulfill their given roles in a party. For example, when I roll for a character, I will roll until I have between, say, 91-95+ stat points to allocate to a character. None of the NPCs come anywhere close to that with their own stats. In addition, I feel an investment in characters I create that I don't with NPCs. What I wish we could have the option of is to have a party of rolled characters and then have a max of, say, 4 or 5 NPCs "tag along" with my party without being a part of it. We could interact, have discussions, fulfill their quests, romance them, maybe even be able to resurrect them and "help them" chose what abilities they will improve when they level up, etc. but we wouldn't be able to equip them, or order them what to do in a fight, etc.
I would also like to say, when I started playing original pen and paper D&D in 1975, we had the view that people who would be good at, and even survive a game needed to be extraordinary. We learned from hard experience with rigidly rolling three dice for each stat and applying them as they were rolled for a specific stat, we didn't even pick which roll total went with which stat. Picking a class was done based on the rolled stats we got... for example, if your first roll gave you a 5 for STR, you probably weren't going to make that character a fighter. We learned that "ordinary" / "average" characters didn't survive very well or very long. That was when we started fooling around with different systems to roll characters to maximize what stats each character had. That is how I feel about the NPCs, they are ordinary, average people... and I just don't find any enjoyment covering for them, or wasting extra time keeping them alive or figuring out how to maximize the little they could do in a fight.
Anyway, I would like there to be an option to incorporate NPCs while having up to 5 rolled characters in your party permanently.