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One of the small things I really enjoyed in Diablo 2 was the Horadric Cube. I know Diablo 3 has crafting NPCs, but a list of recipes just doesn't feel as "free" or experimental as jamming some stuff into the Cube and seeing what pops out.

Does the Horadric Cube make a comeback in Diablo 3? Or is it replaced entirely by crafting NPCs?

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No, there's no Horadric Cube in D3.

As you already said, your NPCs already have all your bases covered regarding crafting.

Even if this does indeed subtract the "fun" of experimenting, the developers decided to put a more streamlined experience in the game, perhaps trying to appeal a wider audience.

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Crafting in D3 is always an experiment. You'll never know what you'll get. Hence my two handed axe with 120 intelligence, used by my wizard. But, like Kappei said, no cube in D3.

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