I honestly hate Neketaka and Defiance Bay. There's so much to do that I either skip a MASSIVE amount of content or I end up feeling trapped in the city, constantly going back and forth, loading over and over as I spend more time talking than fighting... And the talking isn't all that engaging when I have a main quest that's far more important hanging over my head, that the city's quests have little to do with.
Sidekicks aren't really my jam but they are... Okay? Like I don't find myself annoyed that they exist, they seem like a nice option, just not an option I choose to take usually.
Less Combat Encounters though? Not down with that. At that point, dump the graphics and make it a text based game. There are good text based games to be had, if you don't want a lot of combat, just wandering around talking to people.