|Dive Bombing Moths!|
So with the latest expansion, Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft is adding pet battles. So exciting! Doesn't it look it? Okay, so the pet battles aren't the most action packed addition to the game but they provide a new distraction for high-level players that has been missing for a while. This isn't to say that the pet battles aren't for new players, but the 100 gold price tag to get started is intentional to ensure that new players don't get sucked into what equates to be a mini-game. So, here's some details of how pet battles work and why they're a feature that WoW has needed for sometime.
Pet battles have a distinct similarity to Pokemon; leveling your pets, capturing new ones, and dueling other trainers. However, that's as in-depth as pet battles get, keeping it at a fairly simple system so that it remains a mini-game and not a full-blown game itself. Existing pets that you've been collecting forever will be usable and the rarer ones like Mini Tyrael and Murkablo that came from collector's editions or goodie bags from BlizzCon will have some unique aspects. That isn't to say they have an amazing advantage; the pet battles are designed to be fun for everyone, not something that you can win easily by spending more cash.
|D'aww, isn't he cute?|
Each pet has their own type like critter, mechanical, elemental, etc. These provide a certain passive bonus, like flying pets have higher speed while they're above 50% life, and increased damage done or received against certain types of attacks. You can have up to 3 pets active to go into a pet battle at any one time and you can swap them out freely outside of a battle just by bringing up the Pet Journal. Here you can track all your pets, their health, experience, and abilities. When you capture pets out in the wild they have a chance to be of different qualities: poor, common, and uncommon. This determines how they're stats progress as they level so there will be market for the uncommon quality ones for the people unwilling to go find their own pets. Keeping with the theme of threes, you can only have 3 abilities equipped per pet which they unlock from a pool of 6 as they level, giving you a couple options as your pet progresses.
Right from the start you are provided with a 15 minute cooldown ability that heals all your pets. While that might seem long, I like it because it promotes swapping new pets in and out, providing an incentive to level all your pets. That specifically is what I think is going to make the pet battles so addictive for max-level players who are burnt out on running dungeons, grinding out daily quests, or making a new alt. The pet battles are fun, simple, and quick. If you're looking for a specific type of pet, hop on a mount, zip around the zones that it can be found in and use the minimap tracking feature to find it. You can duel any player (should they accept) at anytime, giving you something to do while waiting for a raid group to get going. When I started playing with the pets I had the hardest time to not call them Pokemon, and I still do, but my respect and excitement has shifted from "what a laughable addition" to "this is going to be kinda cool".