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Добавил: admin, 2013-08-10, 06:41 - 0 комментариев


Returning to Goldshire after a few years is a strange experience.

The last time I wandered around the Human starting area was shortly after the release of Cataclysm, and Mists of Pandaria’s changes are subtler than its predecessor’s apocalyptic redesign of the old world. Now, Goldshire is such a different place. Ignoring PvPers, gangs of players run to and fro from the stable master and a new NPC just outside of town. Some stand completely still, frozen in an unseen duel. Others walk vanity pets on leashes, a new item that adds a colored tether between your character’s hand and their miniature cat, dragon, monkey, or robo-rabbit.

The new NPC is Marcus Jensen, the first Battle Pet Trainer. Players at level five and above can pay a nominal fee to get the pet battling skill and embark on a series of tutorial quests. To get you started, you’re granted a pet based on your race—my Worgen werewolf gets an appropriately gothic raven—but the majority of existing pets are compatible, including rare promotional ones.

I leave the raven on the sidelines and choose my original collector’s edition panda cub as my battle pet of choice. Activating “pet tracking” on the minimap then highlights all the battle-ready critters with a green paw icon—working much like the skills used to spot useful crafting materials in the wild. Many of World of Warcraft’s critters— ambient animal life such as rabbits, deer, and frogs—can now be challenged to fights.

Doing so whirls the camera around your character, who strikes a pose as a party of up to three pets gathers around them. Combat is turn-based, with each pet using a single skill per round. My panda has an easy time of it: its “bite” ability is a Beast-class move, which is strong against the Critter-class enemies that comprise most of Elwynn’s wildlife.

If pets and elemental alignments make Pet Battling sound like a lot like Pokémon, that’s because it is. Leveling up pets unlocks new abilities, up to a maximum of eight, of which you then pick a deck of three to bring into combat. Whittling wild creatures down to 35 percent health or lower allows you to chuck a box at them, potentially capturing them for later use.

Once you’ve unlocked all three team slots, you can queue for anonymous pet battles anywhere in the world, with enemies rendered using default NPC models to protect player identities and keep things casual.

Staging Pet Battles for hours, I actually forget that there’s a whole other game here, my maxed-out dragon-slaying werewolf apparently content to wander the woods making his pet panda murder baby animals.

Never underestimate WoW’s capacity to become strange all over again.

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