Blizzcon 2011: A Deeper Look at WoW’s Pokemon-Like Pet Battle System
Blizzard developers announced a whole mess of new features for Mists of Pandaria, the next expansion to World of Warcarft, at Blizzcon 2011 Friday. A big portion of the 90-minute WoW preview panel was dedicated to one specific feature: pet battles.
Now, bear with me, as I explain what pet battles is to those of you who weren’t streaming the con to your personal computers. It’s Pokemon. Almost exactly.
Players use their pets to battle other pets in a turn-based RPG-type game, in both PvE and PvP situations. Primarily, the PvE portion of the game is where you go out into the wilderness to find more pets, and battle them. To do that, you bring along a pet of your own. Win, and you capture the pet. Then the pet becomes your pet. Some pets will only appear at certain places and at certain times or under certain conditions. As Lead Content Designer Cory Stockton put it, you might have a pet that only appears in a specific zone, in the spring, when it’s raining, at night.
Pets level up as they win battles. You’ll put pets together in three-pet teams when you take them into battle, and as they level up they gain new abilities up to a total of six. You can assign three abilities to each pet from the six-ability stable, allowing you some customization for your team. You’ll want to level up multiple pets at a time so you can have them together in a battle.
Apart from fighting other players’ pets with your pets in PvP scenarios — which nets your pets experience — you’ll also be able to face “masters” that are scattered around the world. These
Pokemon Pet Masters will know special abilities that can be taught to your pets: defeat them, and your pets gain the new special abilities.
You can also (potentially) give your pets items to make them more effective, trade them with friends or guildmates, or sell them in the auction house. In fact, the more work you put into a pet, the more effective it’ll be, which opens a whole new means of making money for WoW-heads. All the information you’ll need about pet-catching, like their locations, abilities and conditions for capture, will be stored in a
Pokedex Pet Journal, similar to Cataclysm’s Dungeon Journal.
If it sounds insanely similar to Nintendo’s super-popular monster-catching game, you’re right — it sounds that way to me too. There’s a decidedly WoW-inspired set of elements to it, like the pet abilities and the possibility that they’ll use weapons, but much of the system seems cribbed directly from the Pokemon universe.
Blizzard introduced a lot of features at Blizzcon that will be geared toward adding “content for everyone,” and it seems a Pokemon knock-off is just one facet of that initiative. Still, it’ll likely be fun and addicting, like the rest of WoW. Stockton said “most” pets will be available for battles immediately upon installation of Mists of Pandaria, and most of them will work for trades, as well. There are still some things about the system being ironed out and decided.
A few other choice bits of the system: There will be at least some pet customization, specifically in that you’ll be able to name your pets; Blizzard is hoping to make battle pets account-wide, so you can use your whole battle team regardless of what character you’re using; Pet battling will be available to everyone and will come online at a very early level of character development, even for new players; there will be a queue system like Dungeon Finder and Raid Finder for pet battling, and it’ll include a level-based matchmaking system so you don’t get thrashed by stronger pets.
So what do you guys think — is World of Warcarft: Pokemon something you’re looking forward to? I definitely had to catch them all at one point, back when I was about 12. I could see that happening again.
Follow Hornshaw on Twitter: @philhornshaw.