I was thinking about pets over the weekend, and I find them to be in a curious place right now. If you think about it, the system is perfect, and yet something about it doesn’t feel quite right.
In Mists of Pandaria pets were changed to bring raid buffs/debuffs and utility, although some were restricted to exotic pets. This was normalized in Warlords of Draenor and both exotic and normal pets can provide everything. You no longer have to be Beast Mastery if you want to provide combat resurrection services. I charge my raid a nominal fee for this service.
All pets can be Tenacity (i.e., tanks), or Ferocity (i.e., DPS), or whatever it is that Cunning pets do.
We no longer need to feed pets or keep them happy so that they maintain their high level of DPS, and don’t run away.
We have 50 stable slots, and even the with influx of new pets in Warlords of Draenor there is still adequate room to bring new favorites into the fold.
As I said, pets are in a perfect place right now. Too perfect, and therein lies the problem. We’ve reached the point where a Hunter can bring any pet to a raid that they want, and it just seems boring.
Now I understand that for PvP and soloing the choices you make in pets have some meaning, but for raids it usually doesn’t matter. The situation isn’t helped by the fact that Lone Wolf remains the talent of choice for most Hunters.
Our pets can do everything, but in many circumstances Hunters don’t even use one. Flexible raid sizes have also diminished the importance of pets as all the buffs/debuffs and utility are often covered by other classes. Unless the raid size is small and composition unbalanced, there is rarely a need to bring a specific pet.
This is the crux of the problem. Blizzard has made pets incredibly useful, and not just for Hunters, but for everyone in the group. They’ve also made them incredibly redundant, and thus useless.
We want to be the spatula that no one thought bring at that barbecue, but everything is a catered event now, and no one needs a spatula.
Even the buffs from Lone Wolf aren’t needed that often, and because it’s such a great talent, we don’t even see pets in raids.
I think this had led Hunters to think less about pets this expansion. I hardly check my stable anymore before raid to ensure that I bring a good mix with me, because I know it won’t matter.
Perhaps we’ll find some salvation in 6.1. The buff to Stampede will ensure that there are situations where we’ll see Hunter pets running around, even if you have Lone Wolf. There are encounters in Blackrock Foundry where Beast Cleave will dominate and you’ll want play as Beast Mastery.
Not much can be done about the redundancy of the buffs and debuffs, and quite frankly I don’t like being locked into having to bring a specific pet all of the time. What would really be nice is if Exotic Munitions were brought in-line with Lone Wolf and became an option for PvE. Then at least you’d see Hunters bringing out pets in raids, and maybe, just maybe, they’d starting caring about who to bring.