Entering into Blizzcon, gamers everywhere no doubt expected a torrent of new details regarding Blizzard's upcoming titles. What gamers probably didn't expect to learn about though, is one of the new features in the upcoming World Of Warcraft expansion Mists Of Pandaria which bears a striking resemblance to a certain Nintendo franchise featuring battling creatures of all shapes and sizes.
Obviously, the franchise in question is the insanely popular Pokemon series. How this fits into World Of Warcraft though, will hit closer to home than one might think. If you've ever ventured out into the world and collected a vanity companion pet, then you're well on your way to battle supremacy.
Like Pokemon, players will journey out into the world with nearly all of the game's existing companion pets as well as any of the new ones added in Mists Of Pandaria as they work to further their collection and level up their own tiny creatures. Making use of the included pet journal, players will be able to look at all the information about their pets' skills and stats as well as the conditions by which they are obtainable within the world.
In order to make the most of this new system though, players will need to venture out into the wild in order to level up their pets. This can take the form of battles with other players, battles with creatures dubbed "wild pets" which roam the game's world, and battles with NPCs called Masters. As players battle with their pets and gain experience, their tiny companions will eventually level up, allowing them to equip new abilities and special items that will benefit them in battle.
This customization is a big part of the new battling system. For each pet, players will be able to equip it with three skills that it will then be able to take into battle. This, combined with the ability to form a battle team out of three pets will give the new system some depth, allowing players to experiment with numerous potential builds.
Upon going into battle, players will no doubt be instantly familiar with the style of play. Unlike the regular combat in World Of Warcraft, pet battling will instead make use of a turn-based battle system reminiscent of Pokemon. If a player is interested in taking part in the PvP combat but can't find anyone to compete against though, Blizzard has implemented a queuing system similar to the Party Finder already present in the game which will place players in a battle with little effort.
For those who are looking for a little extra challenge, there are also the Masters, similar to gym leaders from Pokemon, who reside around Azeroth. Players will be able to hunt down these NPCs in order to do battle with them. Should the player win, in addition to added experience points, they will also gain a special Master Ability which can then be equipped to one of their pets for use in future battles.
As an announcement that no doubt caught gamers off-guard, the reaction to this pet battle system is sure to receive a polarized response. In one respect, many gamers will be excited that the vanity pets they have spent so much time collecting will finally have a use, but others will no doubt see the addition as a cheap, gimmicky mode of play.
Regardless of a player's feelings towards the new pet battle system though, the fact of the matter is that this is simply an added distraction or activity within the game's world. It is entirely optional and will not affect World Of Warcraft's core gameplay. It may not appeal to all hardcore gamers, but it's admirable to see Blizzard providing varied content that builds upon existing structures like that of companion pets, even if it may be based off of an existing game series.
With the recent unveiling of the World Of Warcraft Annual Pass in addition to the Pandaren race and Monk class, there's a lot for gamers to be excited about and to get them back into the game. Even if features such as the pet battling system don't pique their interest, the scores of additional content is sure to make up for it.
Do you feel that the pet battle system will fit into World Of Warcraft? What would you like to see implemented in it?