Although only three pet types have been revealed so far - the kitty, the puppy, and the hamster - we do know that three more will be announced prior to the game going live.
Speculation on the official forums is rampant that of the three pet types so far unannounced, one of them will have to be the monkey, a pet type that has been seen frequently with such characters as Monkichi and Chi Chai Monchan. What are your guesses? Let us know in the comments!
I know I'm personally hoping for the inclusion of the wild weasel pet type, but only time will tell.
Having only six pet types may seem pretty limited at first, but you will find that during character creation, you will have many customizable options to choose from.
Everything from fur color to whisker length can be customized with sliding shaders. Whether your dream pet is a golden short-tail, long whiskered hamster or a slightly tubby, black kitty with a long fluffy tail and white forepaws, the HKO character customization screen has the power to bring it to life.
General Play Style
In general, the best pet friend can be thought of as similar in spirit to a hybrid class combining elements of the rogue and the paladin of World of Warcraft fame.
From the spirit of a rogue, with their equipable key charms, there are no locks or chests they cannot open. With their small stature, there are few places they cannot reach to open doors or reach treasure for their friends. And with their keen senses, they can quickly ferret out any monsters that may be trying to sneak on by.
From the spirit of a paladin comes player enhancements, or buffs, that can affect not only themselves, but all members of a party. From giving all members of the group a nice warm glow of friendship that keeps thier spirits high, to providing an exciting growl of fierce encouragement that spurs the group on to fight harder and faster against the monster foes, the best pet friend is a welcome addition to all parties.
More on Party Buffs!
The neatest thing about these party buffs is their implementation; rather than the player casting them on the party, the party activates the buffs themselves by casting emotes on the best pet friend!
That's right. One of the most innovative aspects of the best pet friend is that the other players in the party control which buffs are active by which emote they cast on the pet. Each buff typically has a duration of thirty seconds and is castable while in combat. So there is a solid tactical element involved in choosing which buff is active at any given moment.
While the game is still in beta at the moment, and changes are bound to occur, currently any player can overwrite another player's buff at any time by casting a new emote. There is talk in the forums that when the game goes live, only the party leader will be able to overwrite an existing buff prior to its expiration, but for now party monster battles are free flowing bouts of excitement as one player casts /feed Fresh Sashimi to your pet to activate the Intimidating Purr buff, slowing monster attacks by 10%, only to have another player immediately cast /pet Ruby Brush to activate Warm Fur for +15% Cold Resistance.
I know it seems confusing for now, but the item based emote system is really exciting to me! With the trade skills of Cooking and Grooming, other party members can improve the quality of the food or the tools they use in their emotes, evoking ever more powerful group buffs.
I know it's still too early to speculate, but I can't help it.
We already know that the standard Cooking skill will allow the players to create Bento dishes with standard ingredients purchased from store vendors, but I've seen some screenshots that seem to show a higher level cooking skill, Craft Kyaraben can be unlocked, allowing a creative Cook to craft elaborate Bento using unique ingredients obtained from looting rare monsters. These Kyaraben recipes look to be the path enterprising players can use to obtain the first epic level party buffs, and the entire synergy of crafting dishes to enhance party play is just so amazing! I really think Sanrio has hit it out of the park with the way they are implementing this class.
All things considered, while most players certainly will rush off to make the regular characters to take advantage of the full range of equipable slots when HKO goes live, there is such a wealth of cute features waiting for the player that chooses to play a Best Pet Friend, that I'm sure those of us that choose this class will have no problem getting groups and having fun as much as we want... if we can pull ourselves away from the cuteness of Paris Town!
Make sure to come back next week, when we talk more about each of the various party buffs, focusing on the Party Protector range of buffs and the food and tools you'll need to get the most out of them!
Have fun, and I'll see you in Paris!