Nov 8, 2011

How will the new Pet changes affect Hall of Monument pets?

The recent development update from Jon Peters has largely been well-received with fans being quite happy with what they've heard. However, the one question I haven't seen addressed is what this means for HoM pets?
Before we get to that, let's quickly recap the information regarding Ranger pets. Rangers now have two active "terrestrial or amphibious pet" slots and two "underwater or amphibious" pet slots. One pair of slots will be active at a time depending on whether your character is above or below the waves.
Any pet you've tamed can be added to an appropriate slot when you are out of combat. In combat, you can switch between your slotted pets, even if the active pet is Downed. There is a cooldown on this switch, which will be longer if the active pet is Downed when it gets swapped out, but that's about the only limitation. So far, there is nothing affecting HoM pets other than you won't be able to simultaneously equip all three of the terrestrial pets (White Raven, Black Moa and Black Widow Spider).
However, the slot configuration wasn't the only update. The pet system was made a little more streamlined with the introduction of pet Families and Species and with the removal of pet evolution. When the Ranger was introduced, pets had skills that would be unlocked over time as your pet adventured with you. Although this is great from a "bonding" point of view and feeling that you have a relationship with your pet, it penalizes players who want to switch pets around for tactical reasons, or who come across a new pet type halfway through the game that they really want to tame. (How many people passed on the Imperial Phoenix in GW:Factions because they already had a level 20 pet and didn't feel like leveling up yet another one?) So, pets don't evolve now. Instead, they are always the same level as the Ranger that owns them.  Again, nothing in this change that seems to affect HoM pets.
However, there is now some logic behind pet skills and this will affect HoM pets. All pets get 3 skills from their Family (bear, drake, dog, etc.) which the pet will automatically use through the pet's AI code.  I imagine one will be a spam attack, the second will be a higher-damage or condition-applying attack and the third will probably be a utility skill of some sort. The fourth skill is the interesting one though because it is specific to the Species (Black bear vs. Polar Bear vs. Brown bear) and is triggered by the Ranger player via the F2 key.
This is where the HoM pets enter the equation. They will undoubtedly be different species from what is in the game and available to all players, so they should logically have their own species skill that is different from the other pets in its family. However, HoM rewards are supposed to be mainly cosmetic and offer no inherent gameplay advantage. So, what happens if they give the Black Widow Spider a species-specific skill that (for example) applies Fear? Is this too much of an advantage in PvE over other pets, or given the nature of PvE, will ArenaNet simply say "balanced enough" and not worry about it?
What about PvP where any kind of "unfair" advantage will be frowned upon? Will the four HoM pets be barred from PvP? Or will the species skills for the four be less powerful than any other pet so that people just won't want to use them? The other option is to make them duplicate the effect of a skill available on a non-HoM pet. For example, if the B.W.Spider were to get a 2 sec Fear, then ArenaNet could make sure that another pet available to all (e.g. Brown bear) also has a skill with a 2 sec Fear.
What do you think? Should HoM pets be allowed in PvP? Only if they are "fair" somehow?

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