Blizzcon 2011: Pet Battle System is ‘a Perfect Fit’ for World of Warcraft

Among the announcements of features coming to World of Warcraft with the next expansion, Mists of Pandaria, is a new pet battle system that sounds a whole lot like Pokemon.

When I got a chance to sit down with Dave Kosak, lead quest designer for the game, I asked him about pet battles and whether they were cribbed from Nintendo’s incredibly popular turn-based cockfighting animal battle sim. Kosak pointed out that Pokemon isn’t the only game that uses the Pokemon formula, but more than that, he said pet battles are a good fit for WoW.

“There’s a whole genre of turn-based pet battle systems out there, so the real inspiration for that is players wanted to do more with their pets, and a major theme of this expansion is we just wanted more content for all types of players,” Kosak said. “We really like the idea that that’s the kind of content you can participate in at any level. Like, if you’re not a raider, this is something you can do. We also like the idea that it gets you all around the world. We have this huge, gorgeous, cool world to explore, so we love the idea of you finding all these nooks and crannies exploring it and finding thesse cool pets.”

Players have been asking for ways to utilize their non-combat pets for a while, which exist in WoW more for vanity than for any practical purpose. This gives players a reason to care about their pets, beyond just simple bragging rights.

It also gives more players a way to engage with the game without having to be a hardcore, die-hard WoW head.

“The turn based combat system is very casual friendly, and that helps us out a lot,” Kosak explained. “It gives players who aren’t hardcore a really cool way to interact with the game. Travel the world, collect really interesting things — the collection is really fun, it’s a really interesting mechanic — and then fight the pets in a relatively low-stress turn-based kind of system. And the strategery is all about finding the right combination of pets and the right combination of abilities. So that’s a lot of fun, I think. It’s going to be a lot of fun for a lot of people.

“It just fits into this open world so well. It’s a perfect fit.”

Yeah, fair enough. It does seem like having something to do with all those pets, especially if it gets you out and exploring and seeing new content in the WoW world, is a good idea.

What do you guys think? Is pet battling too kiddy and Nintendo for your taste, or are you finally glad to have something to do with all those pets following you around?

Follow Hornshaw on Twitter: @philhornshaw.

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2 Comments on Blizzcon 2011: Pet Battle System is ‘a Perfect Fit’ for World of Warcraft

MrFlibble

On October 29, 2011 at 8:47 am

Being a massive pet collector myself for as long as WoW’s been around, I find this addition to be really cool way of not only providing players with something neat to do, but also allowing us to interact more directly with the pets we’ve collected over the years.

I never played pokemon. I was a little bit too old for it once that ship set sail. I never saw the draw of it, though I was certainly amazed at just how much the younger kids fell in love with it. I wondered to myself, is it the art? No. The art is simple and, honestly, not very interesting. Is it the characters? Perhaps, though I always found them too one dimensional to really make any real connection, and the infinitely expandable nature of the character pool immediately made me understand that any attempt to “catch them all” was futile, and learning that many different animals and abilities would feel more like school than play. However I was missing one key ingredient, perhaps THE key ingredient.

The gameplay.

I had never experienced the actual act of play with a pokemon card. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that that was what actually got the kids hooked into the system. That was what made them remember all those bajillions of characters and combinations, and feel the urge to spend dollar after dollar in the pursuit of “catching them all”. I have a feeling that’s just what this is going to be.

People will say “Gg Blizz, why you puttin’ pokemon in my WoWs?” and hate on the system in general, but one day they will be sitting in game and think “ahh what the heck, I’ll do one just to see what it is” and then the true test will be taken.

If Blizzard can make a gameplay system that is as fun to play to the masses as pokemon was to the youth during its peak, even the nay-sayers will play it once, feel a little smirk crossing their faces as they think to themselves, “Y’know, this is pretty fun.” and then they’ll be stuck. Able to use the pets we’ve already formed somewhat of an emotional bond with, Blizzard will have their grubby little mitts tugging all over our heart strings.

So I say if they can make those moments of pet battle as enjoyable as they can be, this could actually become a system that could stand up on its own, any other features or content in WoW set aside.

Could we one day see eSports competitions of WoW pet battles? Only time will tell…

Joselo

On November 5, 2011 at 6:40 am

I like it