Pets. Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em. They’re an integral part of staying alive, even if sometimes they’re the ones actually causing you to die.
Pets are multi-purpose in Guild Wars 2. They act as a tank, deflecting damage while you shoot the enemy down. They can do a decent amount of damage by themselves, and their species-specific skill (say that three times fast) comes in handy. Heck, they can even get you up from the downed state while you use your other downed skills, as I found out accidentally. I started off with a jungle stalker, which had the special skill Mighty Roar. It grants – you guessed it, might to allies. I only used it a couple of times since I haven’t yet acquired the coordination to manage my skills and my pet, but thankfully they don’t need much direction. Occasionally, they will assume the position of Leeroy Jenkins and bound after an enemy you didn’t even know was there, but you can forgive them for their flaws.
I stumbled across a Krytan drakehound in Beetletun, and immediately squealed, “Doggie!” It is rather cute, and its skill is Intimidating Howl, which is very useful for immobilizing foes for a short amount of time. I then started capturing pets at random, including the raven, eagle, bear, warthog, drake and spider. Out of all of those the river drake and the spider were my favorites. The drake partly because he shot lightning out of his mouth, (that’s what earned him his name of Thor) and also because I liked the balance in damage and speed. He was also amphibious, so I could take him in the water without having to change pets. The spider was by far the strongest I’ve come across when it comes to damage. It was also the first ranged pet I’ve found, which definitely has its advantages. It means that it has less of a tendency to go Leeroy whenever I start attacking something. The drawback though, is that the enemy sometimes focused on me more than my pet, but that’s only a slight inconvenience. The spider also has poison, which I love since I’m a big fan of degeneration. There was a point where I had started attacking something, got distracted for a few seconds, then looked back and the enemy was dead already because my spider had killed it. It makes for an extremely effective offensive pet, and one that I can see myself sticking with for a while.
The birds attack very fast, but don’t do as much damage. Do note that whenever you’re fighting dredge, don’t use a raven, because the dredge are immune to blinding. The bear was a slow, lumbering beast, but the damage output was pretty good. The warthog is average, but its skill is rather amusing, because it conjures up environmental weapons like scales and gunk. Not sure how useful they are, but they are fun to chuck at enemies.
If you do decide on a melee pet, or if your ranged pet decides it wants to switch tactics, here’s a little tip for controlling aggro: Once you attack, hit F3, which is Return To Me. Your pet will then stay with you while you attack the foe, although you will have to hit Attack My Target in order to get it to fight again. That way you’re only getting the enemy you’re after, not him and ten of his buddies.
I brought the aforementioned trusty drake into the Ascalon Catacombs dungeon, and boy did it help there. Talk about needing a tank in that place. There were some places a pet couldn’t reach, but other than that it helped more than it hurt, which is a change from what I’m used to with Guild Wars dungeons.
One thing that changed from the original Guild Wars that I loved was the ability to change your pet anywhere in the world. All you do is click the drop down menu, and voila! It pops out of thin air. Anyone who remembers the agony of changing pets before the Zaishen Menagerie appeared should understand how I feel. When I first discovered it, I tried it a few more times than strictly necessary, just because it made me so happy.
As for underwater pets, one of the first things I did was hop over to the Hall of Monuments and grab my rainbow jellyfish. Its Chilling Whirl is fun to look at, but not as effective as the shark’s Feeding Frenzy, plus the latter is still extremely visually satisfying. I came across the shark in Lake Viathan, and it’s one of my favorite pets overall so far. It attacks fast, does some really good damage, and sharks are cool, period. Why else would they have a whole week dedicated to them on the Discovery Channel? I haven’t come across as many water pets as land, but I know they’re out there, waiting to be tamed.
Don’t be surprised if you start to feel an emotional attachment towards your pet. Your character certainly does. I frequently heard my character saying, “Not my pet!” and “Don’t worry, I’ll revive you soon.” Upon revival, she sometimes teased, saying, “Oh, so you were just playing dead.” Little touches like this really add to the gameplay, and to your relationship with your pet.
In the original Guild Wars, pets were optional. In fact, I rarely ever used my pet. But in Guild Wars 2, they’re almost necessary, and really quite nice to have around. So go out and get yourself one, enjoy the extra help, and revel in the fuzzy cuteness.
Coming up next, I go beneath the waves with a look at underwater gameplay.