4e familiars = MMO pets
If you've played a pet controlling character in an MMO, some of the familiar mechanics will sound, well, familiar. Familiars are no longer real creatures, they are spirits. They have two modes, active and passive, and if they get too far from their master they teleport back to their master and go into passive mode. If it dies it reappears after you rest.
While I like the way they handle familiar benefits, the video-gameness of them is still rubbing me wrong. I'll have to chew on it for my campaign.