I'm level 27, and I've been adventuring with Lydia for most of my game. I find she gets the job done, and most importantly taunts mobs off me if that happens enough for me to take out smaller mobs.

If my companion is working for me, is there ever a reason to switch him or her out for a new companion? Better attributes? More compatible companions later on?

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    I reworked your question a little bit to be more general and less of a call for opinions about Lydia or any one companion: knowing if you should replace companions is definitely an interesting/important question in its own right. – user3389 Dec 20 '11 at 19:26
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    Guess its time I kiss Lydia goodbye then... – Ivo Flipse Dec 20 '11 at 19:41

Both the Skyrim Wiki and UESP gives you a list of followers by the skills they tend to have.

Not all companions are the same. Some hate it when you break laws while others don't care if you go on a murder rampage right in front of them.

Every companion's stats is different since it depends on the level of the player when you meet them, but they all favor one of three types:

  • Warriors like heavy armor, one/two handed, shield, etc
  • Thieves favor one handed, archery, light armor, sneak, etc
  • Mages favor spells over everything else

Here are some related questions for further reading:

  • It's worth noting that the second answer (on followers' skill levels) gives a method (using the console) to force a reset of a companion's stats so that they are more level-appropriate. – jprete Dec 21 '11 at 1:15

Is there really a reason to switch for a new companion?

Yes, companions do not advance. They are level-scaled to match your advancement when you enter their zone and then they gain nothing, ever. If you've stuck with the same companion for more than 15 levels, they're probably getting pretty weak.

  • Do you have a source/more details on this? What qualifies as "entering their zone"? If I explored a lot at a low level, does this mean all potential companions are now stuck at that level? – hammar Dec 20 '11 at 19:01
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    @hammar See the answer yx. linked to -- it has more info on that. But basically, the first time an area is loaded the follower's stats are set. – agf Dec 20 '11 at 19:08
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    Housecarls don't exist until you become Thane. Go become a Thane in a new city and get a fresh follower. – Amy B Dec 20 '11 at 19:22
  • I thought this would be the more pressing answer. However if you keep on upgrading your follower's gear, they might not appear weak for a long while. My Jenassa has a +60 HP necklace, a +17 Light Armor chest piece, etc. Too many trinkets, too little space. Might as well share the loot with her :) – Bleep Bloop Dec 20 '11 at 22:30

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