By now, most of you know that I usually gravitate to pet classes in MMOs (and any RPGs, for that matter). I love the virtual companionship, the feeling of “ganging up” on an enemy, the visuals, and the different playstyle. If I’m being honest, pet classes make me feel powerful, and that’s a huge motivation for me to play them.
From LOTRO to City of Heroes to Warhammer Online, I’ve tried out most of the pet classes that were proffered, enjoying some while rejecting others. One thing that I’ve grown increasingly aware of is that there is a tremendous variety within the pet class category. One game’s pet class might look and play entirely different than another, allowing for personal preferences to come into play.
Today I want to boil down most pet classes into six types, with the caveats here being that (a) I’m not even going to discuss species of pets (animal, humanoid, mechanical, aetheral), and (b) some MMO pet classes embody two or more of these types. Lots of bleeding over between them. So here we go!
1. The Tamer
The concept behind this pet class is being given the tools to go out into the game world and either permanently or temporarily turn an enemy into an ally. World of Warcraft’s Hunter is a good example of how a pet can be chosen and tamed, adding a meta game as players comb the world for certain types. EverQuest II, I believe, has at least one class with the core mechanic of charming enemies on the battlefield. I even had a Neverwinter companion pet that had its own charm-like ability, which was some Inception-level craziness there.
2. The Swarmer
Swarmers tend to trade in one powerful companion pet for a slew of weaker, more specialized pets that work as a team — or just to swarm over the enemy like piranha. Guild Wars/Guild Wars 2’s Necromancer is famous for the “minion master” build, and who wasn’t a fan of City of Villain’s Masterminds? Visually, this class can be very satisfying to watch, as now YOU are the one mobbing the mobs. It’s kind of messy and chaotic, though.
3. The Buffer
One of my least favorite pet types, the Buffer is the class where the pet is primarily a walking buff that does minor damage in combat. It’s primary there to be a boon to group content. LOTRO’s Captain comes to mind with its heralds or its Lore-master with the little spirit ball-thing. The one benefit of these types is that they’re more mobile than stationary totem-deploying classes, since you hopefully don’t have to keep resummoning the pet.
4. The Tanker
A Tanker class is any one where the pet draws aggro and is able to take a good-sized beating while you provide the damage. I split hairs here with pets that can draw aggro but probably shouldn’t and don’t tend to keep it for long. Tankers are great for players looking for low-stress combat and pair nicely with ranged weapons.
5. The Healer
Once in a while you do encounter a Healer pet class, where the pet either aids in the character’s healing role or does all of the healing itself. RIFT’s Druids and FFXIV’s Scholar both feature healing pets, and they are really awesome. It’s nice to have an autonomous companion healer in the midst of stressful dungeon crawls.
6. The Cannon Fodder
Cannon Fodder types are pet classes where you summon very temporary pets that are meant to do burst damage, take quick aggro, and die. Sometimes these come as swarms, sometimes not, but in every case they are pets that don’t stick around past their timer, even if the job isn’t done.