Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Gotta Keep 'Em All: GW2, EQ2, WoW

Y'know one thing that always annoyed me when I was playing WoW?  The Stable. That place you stash your spare pets. It just never seemed right.

Pet taming was the class-defining feature for Hunters, the class I spent most time with during my three-month visit to Azeroth. Also my favorite. Blizzard had clearly looked at everything that was wrong with the Everquest Ranger and thought "Surely we can do a bit better than that". So they did.
Then after a while they decided, what with Hunters famously being adventurers of very little brain and even less patience, they might have gone a tad too far with the whole full-feature pet-taming mini-game, so that had to go. By the time I arrived, fashionably late by about five years, Pet Taming was down to the bare bones but those bones still looked tasty to me. I set out to make the most of what was left, only to run slap-bang into the Stable door.

You want me to swap you for the Jungle Cat? He's not scared of heights.

I'm loyal to my pets in MMOs. I like to give them a name, watch them develop a personality and then create a shared history of adventure with them. On the other hand, I want to collect as many as I can because collecting is fun and pets are fun so collecting pets is funfun.

At first the Stable didn't sound so bad. Tame a pet, train him up then park him in a nice, safe Stable where I can convince myself he'll be well looked-after while I swan around having adventures with my New Best Friend? Sounds just dandy. Until I found out the size of the Stable, that was.

Twenty pets? Plus, if I work up the Call Pets skill, another five? So, twenty-five? When there are in excess of 300 possible pets? (I'm getting all this information from Petopia, by the way, which was my go-to for Pet info back when I was playing. I haven't played WoW in three years so about all I can remember is Not Enough Pets!!!).

Like I'm taking advice from a Necromancer on responsible pet ownership

Twenty-five wasn't just not enough pets. It was insultingly, tauntingly, derisorily not enough pets. It took all the fun out of pet collecting. Well, some of the fun. Not possible to take ALL the fun, there's just too much fun there. But still...

I read recently at That Was An Accident, one of my very favorite blogs and one I rarely get a chance to link to because it's the only WoW blog I read and, well, I don't play WoW (I think I mentioned that earlier...) that the Stable is going to double in size. Confirmed here. So, fifty pets.

Still not enough. Tempting though. I have been getting a weird, almost subliminal urge, not strong enough to call a desire or even a whim, more a background hum, to take another look at WoW. Purely as a tourist. Just for an evening. People keep going on about it and three years may be just long enough to ripen nostalgia even in someone who didn't think they'd had that much of an emotional engagement with the damn game in the first place. (Me, in other words.)

A Reindeer is for life, not just for Frostfell

Anyway, annoying though the Stable is, it's one hell of a lot better than EQ2's infuriating Beastlord bait&switch. In EQ2 you can have all kinds of pets, just so long as you stick to one of each kind at a time. For example, my Beastlord picked up the red-nosed Reindeer at Frostfell. Deer are members of the Bovine Family in Norrath's anarchic biosystem along with cows, sheep and camels. If I ever tame a sheep, bang goes Rudolph. Not that I call him Rudolph. That would be a daft name for a deer. And not that I want to tame a sheep...

EQ2's strict one in, one out policy on Pet Families pretty much put paid to any interest I had in collecting pets there at all. I just got one decent exemplar of each kind and that was that. What a waste.

They understand every word you say, you know

And what a joy, what a relief then to come at last to Tyria. In Guild Wars 2 you really can collect them all. There just aren't as many. Where WoW has 300 and EQ2 170, GW2 can muster only around 50 pets so far, but once you get those 50 they are yours to keep. They're not on loan. When you get a new cat you don't have to give the old one back. You don't have to park your polar bear in a Stable, worry whether she's getting enough seal-meat, if she's missing you, pawing at the straw and whimpering herself to sleep...


So, pets. Yes, I want to collect them. Lots of them. And once I've got them I want to keep them. I will feed them and walk them and take care of them. All of them. I promise. Trust me. Now, please let me keep them.


  1. I don't know. While the pet thing is real nice, I do miss GW1's system where you had to level your pet and it grew and gained its own identity. Collecting pets is one thing, but it's another thing to nurture bonds with your pets and really spend time with each of them. I find that more satisfying then the "collect a pet, stow it away, forget about it forever" system we have now.

    But then I can imagine for the majority of players how this can become a nuisance. Mmeh.


    1. I want both. I'd like a fully-implemented system for catching and training pets on a par with a crafting discipline, but I'd want to be able to use it to acquire and retain a reasonable number of pets. I was quite disappointed when I found the first pet and the Charm window appeared and... that's it??

      What I really object to is any system that offers you a wide range of pets but only if you treat them as assets to be disposed of when they are no longer wanted. I'd prefer a smaller, permanent range to a "one in, one out" system any day, no matter how many pets you can have with the latter.

      In practice in GW2 I only use a handful of the pets I've tamed, though. I've been using the Murrelow and the Arctodus for as long as I can remember, with a Devourer and a Shark underwater. My new ranger uses a Moa, which I always felt looked ridiculous with a Charr but which looks perfectly natural with an Asura.

    2. One of my biggest disappointment with the game was when they patched the "Land Shark" bug.

      To this day my shark is still named the Land Shark in honor of that glorious, glorious bug.


      Asuras and Moas are perfectly natural of course. Have you seen that Asuran Moa tamer in Queensdale? There are already precedents!


  2. You probably would not have liked UO's taming system then. The standard fare was you can tame anything and stable them - but you must remove them from the stable before 2 weeks passes or they are lost.

    Leave them out parked in the city or your house and they get hungry and go wild again. Oh yeah and they can die (obviously) which in some cases (if you don't have the skill to revive them or they died in a bad swarm spot) they're lost for good.

    1. I remember that, vaguely. More vividly I remember leaving my horse in Fallen Earth standing on what I thought was a safe road and coming back to find him being eaten alive by some kind of insect. Ants, probably.

      I'm not at all against a form of pet ownership in MMOs that requires you to be responsible for their welfare. Of course if there was much of a risk I'd probably never let them leave the city.

  3. Typical here that we end up wanting basic bits from a number of games to make up one system, wondering why it's so hard for at least one of those games to put them together. Not like the games don't steal from each other anyway. Asura: "Hmmph."

    Yeah, the EQ2 swap-out sucks. You've seen Feldon's ongoing list of warders. Enticing but it's all a tease. I liked that you had to be selective in the first place because of the leveling (opaque system tho' that is), but not being able to keep them is senseless. Thanks for the tip on GW2, as I've hardly played my ranger and hadn't researched the pet options. May have to play him more now. whee!

    ("Ridiculous"? Well.... sometimes it's a fine line with the sublime, y'know. You should see my troll beastlord in his jester outfit, astride a squirrel, a cockatrice running, flailing behind like a frantic chicken. Oh, of course, a yellow gumdrop named Yellowcake. Add a merc and it's a dangerous and silly looking team.)

    -- TRG (Antonia Bayle, for one)

    1. One of the things I enjoy most in EQ2 is running around with a massive train of pets, vanity pets, mercs and whatever else I can gather up frantically chasing behind me. With, inevitably, the Benny Hill theme playing in my head...

  4. Exactly. (tho' not the B.H. music for me but still... heh)

  5. WoW has gone completely nuts with pet collecting. In addition to the hunter pets they actually made a mini game that involves all the smaller pets everyone can get: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/game/pet-battles/.

    I have not tried this so cannot vouch for how fun it actually is, but they have one of these minis for like 1/2 the mobs in the world.

    1. Yep, a couple of blogs I follow have gone into some detail on pet battles. They sound quite intriguing, although I had no idea the collections were as widespread as that. All my knowledge of WoW is second-hand :)

  6. Pet battles?


    Store them in Poke-balls?


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