I think Evan said it best when he tweeted, "Wowkemon?" this morning when Blizzard announced that "pet battles" would be coming to World of Warcraft. But Blizzard's new system is even more similar to the classic pet-collecting game than most people thought at the announcement. Read on to see how pet-lovers will be spending all of their WoW time in the future.
Update: Blizzard's J. Allen Brack announced during an interview after the panel that the dev team wants to get the pet system playable on the WoW mobile app. He said "it would be a huge undertaking," but assured that the team has talked about it.
One of the main goals of the system is to give players a new type of activity to do in World of Warcraft and to make it accessible to as many players as possible. While some of the vanity/companion pets will be excluded from the system, they said that "almost all pets" will be usable in the new combat system.
Pet battles are very similar to pokemon duels: they'll be turn-based battles between teams of 3 pets per player (PVE and PVP). Pets gain XP from battle and can level up to level 35, unlocking up to 6 abilities along the way. Each pet can take 3 of those 6 abilities into battle each time. You'll also be able to name all of your companion pets now (My winter gnome servants shall be called Interns).
It's going to be a little more difficult to collect pets now. The ones you already have should almost all work in the new battle system, but there will also be Wild pets out in the world. You'll need to track them down and battle them with your existing pets to beat it down and capture it to train it as your own (sound familiar?). But finding these wild pets may be the trickiest part. The devs said that wild pets will have complex variables that control when they appear in the world. One example they gave was that one pet might only appear in Terrokar Forest, while it's raining in the nighttime. Wild pets will have random stats when you capture it, so you may want to keep recapturing the same wild pets until you get one with stats you want.
The good news is that all those captured pets won't go to waste while you wait for the best one. wild pets will be able to be traded and sold on the auction house for in-game currency. More importantly, Blizzard is "working very hard" to make sure that pets will be account-wide, so that you won't have to capture them on multiple characters.
And you won't be scouring Wowhead for secret tips on how to find these pets. Blizzard will be adding an official Pet Journal in the game that will show you all the pets in the game, along with their abilities, and where to find them all in the world. This will work similar to the dungeon journal.
You will also be able to earn items to boost pets, and you can track down pet masters around the world to challenge them. If you can best them, you'll earn a special ability that you can brign into battle to help your pets win.
This system sounds incredibly deep and complex--it sounds like, if you wanted to, you could pretty much spend all of your WoW time in this new pet battling system. Pet masters, ready yourself!