Updated Tue, Nov 22, 2011 by Messiah
At this year’s BlizzCon many awesome new things were announced and discussed. For starters we got to see more of Diablo 3, more of StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm, and found out about the next World of Warcraft expansion: Mists of Pandaria. Looking at more specific details, things get even better for WoW players, as a lot of great content was talked about. Great things like a whole new race in the form of the Pandaren, a whole new class in the form of the Monk, brand new lands to explore, new instances, a net talent system, and more! All of these are awesome new additions to the game.
For any long time reader of this site, you probably know me pretty well by now. For those that don’t, I can be pretty harsh and negative towards many of the things that Blizzard does, despite really loving everything that they do well. Lately however most of what Blizzard has done, has been spot on and brilliant.
However, then they announced the vanity pet combat system. I literally had to go and check the calendar to make sure it was October and not April 1st. Many people in the audience had to have felt the same way, because the stunned silence was obvious. Later on, when the developers discussed the system in more detail, the stunned silence was back again, this time only interrupted by the odd uneasy laugh as players tried to figure out if this was a sad joke, or if it was real.
Ok, so on to what the whole Pet Battle System, which is what the system real name is. Basically the whole system works almost exactly like Pokemon does. You collect vanity pets either as you normally did in the past, or by hunting them down in the wild, which is brand new. Once you have pets you can level them up through combat and teach them new abilities by taking them to trainers and beating the trainer in a duel. Each different pet will have the ability to learn different abilities and each pet has to be levelled up individually. Like I said, almost exactly like Pokemon.
In addition to all the new features, there are a whole lot of new screens to go along with the features. For example while in combat it shows you with your pets between you and your combatants. The only issue is that the screens make the pets and you look even more cartoony than normal WoW graphics, in fact they look down right childish.
Ok, so by now, you are probably wondering what all this has to do with World of Warcraft and the rest of the game? Well, in essence, nothing, and that’s my issue with it. I can’t really see any reason for including it in the game.
The only upside that I can think of to this whole Pokemon invading WoW thing, oh sorry, I mean Pet Battle System, is that two positive things could happen because of it. First, all the players that are so young or so juvenile that they really should be playing Pokemon instead of ruining the rest of our dungeon or battleground experiences will disappear from those venues to compete full time in WoW Pokemon. The second positive thing that could happen is all the adolescents that are just old enough to not want to play or be associated with Pokemon may just be embarrassed enough by their peers when they learn of WoW Pokemon that they will leave the game, raising the average age and quality of player.
Notice however that both of those things that I deem as positive are really only positives in my grouchy old man persona, and not really positive for the game. They are not really positive for the game, in fact, I can not think of a single positive effect that this will have on the game. After all WoW is an MMOG, and while it does branch into some areas that were not typical MMOG areas like structured PVP combat, it stays pretty close to the accepted norms for MMOG’s.
I simply can not fathom what adding Pokemon into an MMOG adds to the game. An MMOG is about several things including: Socialization (something WoW does not do well at promoting), Leveling, Questing, Crafting, Dungeons, Raids, and PVP combat. All of those are in the game to help create a system to improve your character over time and your characters gear so setup a never ending cycle of possible improvement so that you keep playing and paying your monthly fee. All of these are also in place to ready your character for the next wave of even harder, higher level content.
Sure, having something else to do in the game, could help them keep players around and subscribing, but shouldn’t it relate to the core game in some way? If not, why not at least add something that is insanely popular now, and not something that was popular years ago.
Wouldn’t a better example of a game to add for players to play in-game be Poker, or any other gambling game, or even a whole casino? Blizzard could add it right into the pubs in each town, after all it would be far easier for me to imagine our big touch Azeroth saving heroes and heroines heading back to a bar to toss back a few ale after a hard day of Dragonslaying and gambling away their loot. I mean that is what adventurers and mercenaries did right? Blizzard could even tie in real world gambling and make more money!
I have real issues with a big tough tank coming back to town after finally slaying Deathwing and deciding to go and enter the Pokemon arena, oh again, sorry I mean the Pet Battle System, saying “Moonkin Hatchling, I chose you!”.
Lastly for all you bleeding hearts out there that say, it’s a game for everyone, something different is good, I call BS. A whole lot of us pay a lot of money each month to play an MMOG that is all about adventuring; putting some of the money we pay towards a game aimed at 8 year olds is not at all justifiable. It would be essentially the same as your local government taking tax money to throw a stripper party, or your Baptist church taking your donations and supporting a Buddhist Temple, they have nothing to do with one another, and you have a reasonable expectation that the money you gave to each organization to be spent in a manner consistent with general expectations of that organization.