It’s All About the Pets

When I was in San Francisco weekend before last, I had some time to watch my friend play his warlock. I was surprised at the bond he had developed with his voidwalker. It wasn’t a deep emotional bond — this is a manly hard-core gamer, after all — but he spoke to it often, encouraging it in fights and chiding it when it (he) did something stupid. He also told me that he really wishes he could name it, like we do with hunter pets. The game may imply that he is summoning a new demon each time he gets the previous one killed, but to him it’s a continuous personality.

But this got me to thinking. I had assumed this connection with the pet was a hunter thing, somehow tied into our fuzzy kitties and happy puppies (and beautiful wind serpents and friendly boars and …). I’ve tried other pet classes — I have a lore-master in LOTRO, a mastermind in CoV, a conjurer and a necromancer in EverQuest II, a … well, a necromancer pretty much everywhere there is one. And I’ve tried to start a warlock in WoW several times. But none of them gave me the feel of a hunter. None of them felt right.

I had assumed it was because you can’t really bond with a demon or a zombie — but here is my friend bonding just fine with a voidwalker. (Did I mention he talked to it just like he talks to his cat?) So then I thought that perhaps it was because I am an animal person (as opposed to a zombie or demon person) and so I just bonded better with an animal companion. But then I should get the same feel from my conjurer or lore-master, right? And I don’t.

So after some thought I think I have identified the differences — two reasons why I adore my hunters and merely like my conjurer and lore-master. The first reason is the underlying playstyle, which I will come back to in a later post. The second reason is the element of choice — a hunter selects their pet from a vast array of choices. A lore-master starts with a raven and later gets a bear. (I don’t know what comes after that.) A conjurer starts with a green beetle. You can, spending some money, upgrade to a blue beetle, but if you do you can’t ever go back to your green beetle. And soon enough you are on to a centipede, then other odd little bugs and things.

But a hunter can choose a companion –for life or just for now — and can choose not only the color but also the type of creature that best suits their personality or their character’s personality. I mentioned some time back that I have a Grand Master Plan to level 20 hunters, between them covering all of the pet families. But did I also mention that each of these hunters has a personality suited to the family they will cover? (I play on an RP server, and although I don’t do much heavy RP, each of my characters has their own personality and stays more or less in character while I play.) I can do that because I can choose a laughing hyena or a dour scorpid or a grumpy bear or what have you. My poor little lore-master, on the other hand, has a raven. Period. I can name the raven, but it’s still a raven just like everyone else’s raven.

So my friend has a bond with his voidwalker, but I am pickier. I don’t just want a voidwalker like everyone else has — I want a Twilight Runner named Cloud that I chose with great deliberation at level 23 and have kept by my side ever since. The bond — the play experience — is probably very much the same as far as these two pets are concerned. But by supporting both, WoW has captured my imagine in a way that other pet classes — and other games — have not.

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9 Responses to “It’s All About the Pets”

  1. drelodi Says:

    I think one of the other reasons that you bond more with your pet as a hunter is that you have to level your pet. It may sound like a very small detail, but think about it:

    If you tame a pet at level 10 and keep it until you’re 70, you’ve been with the pet for a long time, you’ve bonded with it until it’s your best friend, you’ve thought of a name for it, etc. Now, fast forward. You’re level 70 and decide you want a pet model that’s only available at a very low level. You still put in a lot of effort leveling the pet up to level 70.

    I think that it also can be dependent on the effort required. For example, I went through all of the trouble of getting to Eversong Woods without any help or any easy strategy of getting there when I was level 10. It took many, many deaths, and a lot of effort to get the Springpaw Cub. At level 70 I noticed that I was much more interested in advancing my cub, even though he was already 69 and I had a newly-tamed Skettis Ripper to level up. However, I leveled the kitty to 70 before even allowing my owl to gain loyalty.

    Anyhow, it’s simply a thought. It also may be more difficult to bond with a demon because as a warlock, you essentially enslave them. I’m sure they don’t love you much for doing so. ;P

  2. darkbander Says:

    Im also on an RP server. And yes, the pet is the biggest part of the character. Ive found also, that when going out and looking for the pet you want, the right pet chooses you. Its odd. I never set out to get a crab, i just picked one up for a moment and something clicked. And here i am two years later still with that darkshore crab. Same with another hunter. I never intended to keep that spider…etc. Am i making sense? Im glad you still have your kitty!

  3. hiiro Says:

    I completely agree. Its the leveling and and the whole seeking the pets out. I became a hunter when I first saw Rak’Shiri, and then I started leveling just so I could tame him. I remember when I finally ding’d 57 to tame him, he spawned right on top of me in Winterspring. I got him and was estatic. After I hit 60 (pre expansion) I got a ghostsaber and leveled it all the way to 60, I formed a great bond with that cat and I love him lol I didn’t plan on getting another cat until one of the Blade’s Edge Lynx literally chased me endlessly until he finally knocked me off my mount. He was so obnoxious I had to tame him. Just like every hunter has a personality, so do these pets, and we love em.

  4. remillard Says:

    I have to admit the pet is an integral part to my enjoyment of WoW hunting. I don’t know that I’m super verbal about it (as I often have to play in quiet environments) but mentally I’m smiling when Ysm pulls off something really amazing, and while I realize Ysm’s survival often depends on me getting away since I’m the only one who can resurrect her; it’s not without a guilt pang everytime I have to turn and try to get out of combat range before she dies.

    Out of curiosity, does anyone who has had to release a pet before make sure they go to a nice place where the pet would theoretically be able to live comfortably, or even back to the pet’s original homeland? It’s silly I know but I have done this before.

  5. Mania Says:

    remillard: Yeah, I have to admit that I do that. :> Back around level 55 I decided I wanted an Ember Worg to match my mount. Three levels later, I went back to Cloud (the Twilight Runner), but before I did I made a special trip back out to where I had tamed the worg. I fed him his favorite food and warned him about people — because most of them would kill him instead of tame him — and then set him loose.

    On leveling: This is one reason I worry about making pet leveling too easy. I would like it to be a bit faster than it is now to level up a pet well below you, especially from 60 to 70, but I don’t think making it instantaneous like a warlock would neccesary be the best idea.

  6. innerdarkness12 Says:

    I agree. My main is a dwarf hunter, level 70. My first pet was neither a tiger, boar, or bear. I made a trip to mulgore, ran up, and tamed a tallstrider, Then hearthed. I had this tallstrider till fifty. We had leveled, we raided together…At fifty, I wanted a turtle as my defensive pet. So I set him free, I set him free in mulgore, away from the guards, with

    Also, I have a special bond with my soloing pet, who I occasionally use for PvP. He’s that unique hyena in The barrens. My alt, a troll warrior was exploring an got pwned by him and his crew. I had to have him. I had a high level pally freind run in the crossroads and pwn up, I tamed him and ran out. We are both level 70, I tamed him at 30.

  7. innerdarkness12 Says:

    I forgot to mention, the hyena is named banzai.

  8. Easy Mode « Petopia Says:

    […] I said in a post a bit ago that diversity and complexity of WoW pets are one reason I like my hunter way more […]

  9. degbunke Says:

    When I had to put my night elf’s first pet (a spider) in the stable to be able to tame the snake I wanted instead, I felt so sorry for the spider and almost regretted that I had to put him away. I mean, he was my best friend and all. But I told myself he’d be having a good time in the stables with other pets to play with. Same thing when my tauren had to put his cougar in the stables (was getting a snake for him too). Hahah!

    Strange how you develop feelings for the pets, I mean, it’s just a game… But still, I love my pets.

    …and I like the warlock’s minions too. But I’m not sure I’d say I love them, though. They are cool in another way. The grumpy imp – “This was NOT in my contract!”, the angry void – “Send me back…..!”, etc. The minions are more of a laugh, while the pets are a more serious thing. Or something.

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