Pets in World of Warcraft have traditionally been for little more than show and bragging rights. I remember logging in for the first time in November of 2004 with my Collector's Edition in tow, and excited to pick my mini diablo, my panda, or my zergling pet. They didn't do anything. The panda was cute as hell but just slept on the ground while I fought. All that is about to change when Mists of Pandaria launches and along with many other things the Pet System receives a complete overhaul.
Of course it's not the most important game changing event to happen in Azeroth, yet the system is extensive and massive enough to bear this special overview. Every single pet in WoW, the hundreds there already are plus the many more to come in the future months and years will be a part of this overhaul. But what exactly is changing? Well, imagine that little mini diablo you got with your Collector's Edition could actually do more than linger menacingly to your side while you fought. Instead with Mists you'll be able to take part in turn based battles with the little guy, any any other pet you have.
Keep in mind that none of the things the Pet System entails will be forced upon the player. If you want to just keep ignoring the pets as you may already have been, more power to you. But chances are you'll be missing out on a significantly large chunk of extra gameplay in WoW that doesn't involve running dungeons or repeating daily quests. The Pet System really is seeking to add another whole level of depth to the games many layers of "side hobbies" for your character.
Every single pet there has ever been will now have their own set of special abilities to use. You'll get to level them up and select new abilities as they do so, and you'll even get to name them and customize them in other ways which have yet to be revealed.
Most players out there might be shaking their heads, wondering what possessed Blizzard to add this sort of functionality into WoW. The answer is simple: players have been collecting pets and hunting them down like a certain Nintendo game instilled in them for years now. BlizzCon attendees are given a new exclusive pet every year. There are several pets available for purchase on the battle.net store. What people kept asking for in the community and at events like BlizzCon was for pets to mean something more than just collectible fluff. This brand new pet battle and progression system is the answer to that.
Oh, they won't suddenly be able to fight alongside you in normal combat, and not every class is suddenly going to become a Hunter. It's just another new thing for longtime players and newbies alike to delve into. A reason for people to keep on playing. What else is cool about this new system is that they're going to try and make the pet collection span an entire account so no matter what character you're logged into you'll have access to your pets.
New stuff is what people have been craving in WoW for ages now. This expansion, love the ideas or hate them, is definitely seeking to do just that. With a brand new pet journal to track your hundreds of pets collected, to tell you where to get them, and at what time, during what weather or seasons (that's right, some will be season specific) it's like Blizzard is giving players a whole new game to play within Azeroth. You'll scour the world hunting down masters of certain pet types to learn their skills and earn their pets. Heck, next BlizzCon might even have a whole new type of event: the Pet Fight International.
I choose you, Murkablo.