Today a Beta patch brought in the new pet battle system – for all of a few hours. By the time I downloaded the patch and started playing, the battles had broken. None of my huge pet collection was available, (it was all greyed out in the list), except for a new pet I’d bought, the Gilnean Raven, from the pet battle trainer in Stormwind. After also purchasing the ability to train battle pets, I took a quest from the trainer to win my first pet battle. This would enable me to train my pets up beyond level 1. Sadly, whenever I spotted a wild pet advertised by a huge green paw on my mini map, and attempted to engage it in battle, both it and my Raven died instantly. From what I was seeing in general chat around me, this was the same for everyone. PvP pet battles were still possible, but you had to have a pet of level 3 or above to take part in those. So it was rather a Catch 22 situation. It seems from what I’ve read on the Beta test forum that the glitch is happening everywhere, the US included. Although from what I can make out, US players were able to test the pet battles for a bit longer than their EU counterparts.

Speculation is that Blizzard will hotfix the problems as soon as they can, since the whole point of having the pet battles available on the Beta is not to please players who don’t quite get what a Beta is for, but the all-important job of testing the system. We can hardly do that if it ain’t working!

I browsed through the lists of pets in the Pet Journal and there are a lot of interesting new additions, as well as scores of the same pet reproduced simply with a different name – particularly snakes, roaches, frogs and rabbits, none of which were particularly exciting to start with. (Really disappointed that clunky old models such as the rabbit and frog/toad are being reused so much. If there was ever a need for redesigning, those two in particularly were screaming out for it.) But there are also many new intriguing pets to hunt down and capture, from undead ones, to those based on new creatures in the game, and from throughout the history of Azeroth, all down-sized to be mini pets. Some are particularly interesting, owing to their history. The Macabre Marionette is listed, which was previously only a temporary pet from the Day of the Dead festival. I assume now that when we get it this year, we’ll be able to keep it. The Onyxian Whelpling was Blizzard’s 5th anniversary pet, available only to players who logged on during that time a couple of years ago. An identical model, Spawn of Onyxia, will be huntable in Dustwallow Marsh. And two previously very rare and expensive pets have also now been reproduced – the Hyacinth Macaw model, worth 10s of thousands on the AH, will apparently (if the pet journal is not to be tweaked or changed in this respect) share its model with a bird simply called a Parrot, catchable in Northern Stranglethorn, Swamp of Sorrows and Ungoro Crater. Another rare and pricey pet, the Firefly found in Zangarmarsh, has an identical counterpart in the Jade Forest that can be caught. Some pets that were rare drops from zone mobs continue to be so, such as the Crimson and Emerald Whelplings, so will still demand a lot of grinding if you want to get them, while others can be acquired perhaps more easily through pet battles with wild pets in the zones. I was surprised about some of these rares being made sort of common, and wonder if (and hope that) the half dozen or so cool pets that were offered only to players in China and Korea for various promotions eventually get the same treatment. There were a couple of nice jewelled panthers, and the Chinese version of the small drakes that we only saw in the Spirit of Competition pet in the West, during the last Olympics. I think my favourite so far, from browsing the list, has to be the Qiraji Guardling, obtained via pet battles in Silithus. This is based on the half insectoid/half woman found in the Ahn Qiraj raids as a hostile mob. She’ll probably be first on my list when pet battles go live and I’m of a proficiency to capture her!

Wish I had more to say about the battles themselves but no doubt the glitches will be sorted by tomorrow.