I have a confession to make.
I hate pet battles.
I want to like them, I really do. I’ve been a pet collector in-game right from the very start. I sold the clothes off my Night elf’s back to buy my first pet, a bombay cat and ever since then I’ve run dungeons, quested and grinded my way to various pets. I’ve bought them from the pet store and the auction house. I’ve even jousted just for pets but the truth is, pet battles leave me cold.
I love the detail which has gone into the flavour text for each pet.
I’m in awe of the huge scope of both pet families and models which will become available to us and I already have a sort of wish-list in my head. I wanted quite a few of the new pets for years and now we’re finally going to be able to get them. In fact the only way they could improve in that regard is if they made a mini harpy (which is clearly a huge oversight on Blizzard’s part). In fact I look at the different spells available to the pets, to the love and attention shown to them and then I look at my own class. At the clunkiness of Chakras, Power word: Solace and Holy Nova requiring a glyph slot and I feel slightly annoyed.
Then there is the actual battling itself. In the average battleground, Sprout uses over forty five different buttons/binds on vud’ho. Now that includes both defensive and offensive spells, drinks, racials, trinkets, nets, pots and cooldowns and would be much higher if I included her party favours for graveyard camping. In the pet battles, each pet has three abilities and as you level, each of those three slots ends up with a choice of two abilities to fill it. So you have a stunning choice of 6 abilities per pet but you can only use three at once. To make matters worse, at least from my perspective, the only interaction I have is choosing which pets and which of the few abilities to use. There is no equivalent of the hit cap, instead I’m a 100 percent at the mercy of RNG which can be frustrating to say the least. I suppose I’m so used to being able to improve my performance through the use of addons, keybinds, talents, enchants, gear and consumables that paring everything down seems unchallenging and almost boring. Sure you can cherry pick your team but to me at least that’s another issue. I have certain favourite pets, these aren’t particularly special creatures but they have meaning to me. They are the ones that ideally I would want to use in the pet battles but it’s hard to ignore the fact that other pets would have a higher success rate, perhaps due to the whole rock, paper, scissors effect or simply because they have better stats. So far I’ve just been steam rolling my way to victory with a suboptimal team but I’m not sure I can do that all the way.
Once you’ve captured the pets, the frustration doesn’t end. All critters aren’t created equal which means that quite often you find yourself having to let go of little Flopsy the cottontailed bunny because he’s a common bunny and you’re after his rare big brother. I’d much prefer it if there wasn’t a cap on the number of pets we are allowed. 500 seems like a decent number until you start doing the maths.
Now of course there are some plus points, seeing a horde of rats run at an unsuspecting critter is always good for a smile plus it reminds me of the many day trips to Hamelin I had to go on as a child. I’m hugely in favour of anything which gets people out of cities and into the world (unless of course they’re the jerks who like to follow people around trying to kill the critters people are trying to battle). I imagine that just like with Archaeology the gankers will be out in force for the first few months of the expansion.
Will I partake, yes. I at least want to collect my very own baby Vermling but I don’t see myself going beyond that point. I’ll pick up the various pet models that I like along the way, oddly enough, most of these despite being labelled “tiny” are bigger than my Gnome but I miss the complexity of playing my actual characters. I also don’t like the anonymity of the whole system. What’s the point of keeping score without recording losses? In a way I find it a bit insulting that Blizzard are basically implying that the whole pet collecting community can’t take competitive combat. In my experience at least, knowing who just flattened you can go a long way into pushing you to improve, something we should all be striving for. WoW is a multi-player game in which we compete on so many levels, why should this be exempt?