In July of 2016, the world was introduced to the mobile game Pokémon Go and for a period of time, it completely took over the world. It’s easy to see why this was the case the Pokémon franchise has been going strong for over 20 years and has accumulated a massive fan base. Pokémon Go offered an experience that was the closest thing to actually living in the Pokémon universe, which is something many of us had dreamed about when we were kids. You could catch Pokémon in the real world, interact with Gyms and collect items by stopping at Pokéstops (designated locations at real-world parks, art pieces, restaurants, etc). At the time it seemed like nothing could stop the momentum they had gained and Pokémon Go would go on to be a fixture of gaming for a very long time, but that ended up not being the case.
The game lost a massive amount of players only 3 months after it’s release. This was due to a variety of things, from server issues to removal of fan favorite features like the nearby system, which allowed you to see silhouettes of Pokémon that were close to you. The main issue, however, was the overall lack of things to do. Players fell in love with the novelty of catching Pokémon in real life, but at launch that’s really all the game was, a novelty, and after a while, the majority of people became bored and stopped playing.
You may think that this is where the story ends, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Pokémon Go is still going strong to this day, with a dedicated community behind it, near constant updates that have massively improved the experience and most importantly more things to do. There is no better time to start playing or come back!
If you were someone who was disappointed in only being able to catch Generation 1 Pokémon, have no fear! The roster of available Pocket Monsters has doubled since launch. They are already up to the Generation 3 Pokédex with Generation 4 fast approaching. My first Pokémon Game was Crystal and I really love all of the later generations, so simply having more Pokémon to catch makes me want to go out and play much more often. There are still issues where the same Pokémon show up over and over again in specific areas, but it is so much better than before.
Something that has personally improved my experience with the game is Professor Willow’s research tasks. There are two types of tasks, Field and Special. Field Research are challenges such as “Throw 3 Great Curve Throws” or “Evolve a Fire Type Pokémon” that you get whenever you spin a Pokéstop. If you complete a task you get rewarded with items or the opportunity to catch a somewhat rare Pokémon. Special Tasks are a little different, you still complete tasks to get rewards, but if you complete all of them you get the chance to catch the legendary Pokémon Mew. These are very fun and having specific goals that you need to accomplish with the promise of a reward at the end is a great way to get players to experience everything the game has to offer.
The best addition to Pokémon Go by far is the Raid Battles. Raid Battles are when a strong Pokémon called a Raid Boss, takes over a gym for a limited time and you get the chance to battle and potentially catch whatever Pokémon you’re going up against. They are different from than the standard gym battles because they often involve legendary Pokémon and they encourage more of a sense of community because unlike gym battles you can’t do them alone. Raid Battles are the most fun I’ve had with the game so far, and enough of a reason alone to get back into the game.
Trading and Friend System
The most recent addition to Pokémon Go is something that I had been waiting for since launch, Trading, and a Friend System. Trading is one of my favorite things about the console Pokémon games and I was so happy to see it integrated into Go. It is unfortunate that you can’t trade with someone further than 100m away from you, but I would rather have a limit than no trading at all. The Friend System is also great because it gives you the ability to give gifts to your friends. You get these gifts from spinning Pokéstops and they have items and special eggs in them, and those eggs are the only way to get certain special forms of Pokémon called “Alolan Forms”.
For a long time Pokémon Go felt incomplete, but with these new additions it finally feels like what it was supposed to be at a launch and with the release of Pokémon: Let’s Go Eevee and Let’s Go Pikachu later this year, I imagine it’s only going to get better and better!