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Pokémon? Yes, But It’s Fun

World of Warcraft Columns - By William Murphy on July 26, 2012

Pokémon? Yes, But It’s Fun

So, we could go on and on rather pointlessly about the recently announced Pandaria launch date. But we already did that here. So instead, in this edition of the WoW Factor, I’d like to offer a few thoughts on the recently added Pet Battle System to the beta for Blizzard’s latest Azerothian expansion.  In short? It’s really quite the Pokémon meets WoW addition you’d expect it to be. But that’s not really a bad thing. In an MMORPG that has come to favor the “game” part of the acronym more than the RP, I’ve actually found the pet battle system to be an interesting alternate form of progression and fun to be had in Warcraft.

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The Good Parts

Every single pet, every one of them, can fight. You can take out that little sleeping panda or the mini zergling and do battle with them now. Your robot chicken isn’t just for looks anymore; it can also be used to peck other small pets to death.  Sure they can’t fight with you in the game, but at least they finally have a use. They also all level-up, get new skills, and so forth. You can name them all, and make custom battle-teams of three.

Blizzard also knows the game they’re lampooning with this system, as there’s an entire series of tongue-in-cheek quests that goes along with it culminating in you taking on the various “boss” trainers just like good ol’ Pokemon: The OG.  On top of that, there are so many pets to collect, you could add months to your gaming in Azeroth if you’re the hardcore collector type. Oh, and above all else: it’s turn-based Final Fantasy style combat. It’s not the deepest feature ever, but it’s a really fun little addition as silly as it sounds.

The Down Sides

In the beta so far, I was late to joining the pet battle party. There is a match-making system in place, but to open it up you have to finish the intro quests to the system which take you through getting your first pet-team put together.  Now, here’s the problem with that: finding someone who hasn’t already leveled their pets so high they instantly gib your lower level buddies. You can, and will wind up spamming chat for a volunteer to help let you win and level them up to finish these intro quests.  Then you can start using the match-finder tool, and finally start leveling your pets. But getting there is a bit of a hassle.

Additionally, there’s not much too the system outside of the actual battling. It doesn’t track losses, there’s no way to host tournaments, or any of that.  It’s just for fun.  That’s really actually pretty awesome, but there’s a more “serious” side of me that would love to see a way to organize a tournament in-game, to see rankings of your teams, and so forth. 

Overall, I really quite like the system so far.  It’s one of the more ridiculous additions to WoW I’ve ever seen, but it’s also one of the most fun.  Is it going to get you to play for years like you once did? Not really. But one day when WoW goes F2P in 2037, you can bet there will be a massive cadre of pets to spend your Blizzard Coins on.

What about you? Have you had a chance to try out the light-hearted battle system? Is it your cup of tea, or a needless addition? Weigh in with a comment below!

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002. Be sure to follow him on Twitter for all of his pointless rambling.