Pokemon Go has come a long way since its early days of just catching and gym battling. Those are still core gameplay elements, but there’s a bit more to it now. It’s not just about catch and release, but catching specific Pokemon, catch several in a row, catching with a specific kind of throw, and more, mostly thanks to questing.
Yes, there are quests in POGO now, including dailies. I’m not just talking about the old system either. Now, at the very least, you want to catch one Pokemon, spin one PokeStop, and do one “Field Task,” the game’s equivalent of dailies. If you understand that, you can probably stop here, but for those looking to dig a bit deeper, keep reading.
So, you’re in Pokemon Go, and you just saw a Pokemon. You clicked the little beast and now are in the catch screen. Just straight flick those balls at the Pokemon and hope for the best, right? Wrong! I mean, you can do that, but with very little training, you can throw curveballs, drastically increasing your capture rates, allowing you to complete special quests/tasks. When you combine your new technique with new items to get more candy/dust for your effort, you’ll be amassing an army of digital beasties in no time!
Especially for those of you played in the very early days in America, Pokemon catching has changed. The “step” system is gone. Instead, Pokemon are often by PokeStops. You can click on the bottom right of the screen to see nearby Pokemon, click the one you want to track, and the game will highlight the area you should search for it. Pokemon with a grass icon can be, well, just about anywhere not near a Stop.
I’ve noticed a bit of a renewal for Pokemon Go thanks to large improvements by Niantic starting with Generation 3. With raids, quests, real-world weather affecting spawns, trading, and friends, the game’s drastically changed since release. But as my fellow Massively OP reporters Brendan Drain and Tina Lauro Pollock have both returned to the game, I’ve also noticed that coming (back) to the game can be a bit confusing.
There are a lot of in-depth guides out there, but there is so much going on with the game that for a real newbie, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Instead, I’m going to go point by point, top priority to bottom, in a way that lets you get back into the game quick and easy, using long-term but relevant tips and resources. Power players and veterans can skim these articles and add their own advice in the comments section, but my job is going to put you on the road to being a capable Pokemon trainer.
Today, we’re going to start with community.
It’s year two of Pokemon Go. While there’s always room for improvement, enough has changed that I feel comfortable recommending the game to at least pre-World of Warcraft MMO fans. Why them and not the greater MMO community? Glad you (hopefully) asked! Unlike most true MMOs, POGO is still in its early infancy in terms of in-game community. Much as in early online games, players may be able to have a friend’s list, but not only is basic chat lacking but so is guild/clan support. There’s no party system, which means no group finder, let alone instanced content that lets you join in with little to no effort.
Like old school MMOs, POGO players have to use a lot of out of game tools for their communities, but there’s enough going on that fellow Massively OP reporters Brendan Drain and Tina Lauro Pollock have renewed their interest in the game. While Brendan had previously attempted some casual raids, both he and Tina had quit entirely. As the game just had not one but two events this weekend as part of its second year anniversary, we decided to try moving out of our comfort zone and looking at the game’s community from new perspectives. Brendan and Tina tried jumping in for the events for the first time, while I tried playing outside my usual community, with mixed results.
Today is Pokemon Go’s second-year anniversary. Last year’s report card had to grapple with things like the game’s rapid rise and fall as a fad, its severe lack of promised content even with its first major update, crimes associated with the game, and being somewhat anti-social – and that was before the disaster known as Pokemon Go fest 2017. It was probably the worst way to start off a new year for your game, and it’s probably no surprise that our coverage of the game waned after the fallout.
But something happened. Whether it was because series Director/Producer Junichi Masuda was there to witness the horror or because some internal change in Niantic’s process changed, we’ll probably never know. But change came. Generation 3 became Pokemon Go’s One Tamriel. Suggestions I’d made previously happened and are still happening. The numbers are showing that the improvements are paying off, as the game’s playerbase is at the highest it’s been since its 2016 peak, after having gone through a brutal 80% dropoff. I thought I was being overly optimistic with my 2018 predictions for the game, but so far, so very good!
You know with my being the one at this year’s E3 that this would happen. A console Pokemon game that also connects to Pokemon Go? The possibility for a way to include trading in Niantic’s game in an indirect manner, a wider connection to the main series, its online storage system that helps give the games some semblance of persistence – altogether, it seemed for a moment as if Nintendo was indirectly building another pillar in its overall Pokemon world.
Sadly, from what everything we’ve learned, we’re no closer to a true (official) Pokemon MMO. However, my hands-on experience did hint at some really cool immersion for Go players who want to pick up Pokemon Let’s Go for a new mix of the core series’ gameplay.
A lot of critical things have been said about Pokemon Go and Niantic in the past. Professionals that tried to defend certain UI elements still had plenty of suggestions a non-professional could have made. Same goes for players and professionals that noted the need for quests. In fact, Niantic’s insistence on doing local events instead of global events created some huge PR problems, and that’s without noting that, for a social game, the game actually lacked a lot of social features.
But there’s a weird thing: Niantic’s addressed many of those issues. Several are ones I’ve previously suggested. There’ve been several UI improvements, new quests, at least two events per month since February 2018 that aren’t just cash shop sales, and a push towards community building. It’s far from perfect, like the glaring omission of in-game communication or a social media connection, but we’ll ignore that for now. What I want to focus on is how Niantic’s taken feedback and enhanced Pokemon Go.
I’d like to think that I’m kind of a healthy gamer. While MMOs take a lot of time, the nice thing is that their downtime can lead to forming bonds, or give you time to exercise. Augmented reality games can give you both at once, especially Pokemon Go, since it’s the best-known ARG we have (and the mountains of merchandise make it easier to stand out as a fellow player).
However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, and I’m not just talking about game mechanics that have plagued Niantic games since at Ingress. I remember playing that title and thinking, “Man, this game is dangerous! There’s no way they’ll just clone this for POGO, right?” And yet, here we are. But I can’t put all the blame on Niantic, especially after my time with ARG competitor Maguss. Some things just seem inherent to the genre.
If it weren’t for my promise to write this article, I would have given up on Maguss in less than 15 minutes had I been a consumer.
I understand the game’s in open beta, but from the start it was repeating issues I’ve seen too many times: bad tutorial, terrible UI, and aggressive monetization the likes of which I’ve only heard of in terrible games and dating apps. Like many of you, I grow defensive when seeing industry terms used as shields against bad design when developers (actually) need funding to continue. I’m jaded, I’m suspicious, and I don’t want to be nice or patient about it, especially when my money is on the line. What sounded like a great Pokemon GO challenger left me once again questioning why I bother with video games as a hobby at all.
But then I got past it. I found some things I genuinely liked that were in and functioning (mostly) as advertised. No, I’m not a convert, but I’ve dug through the dirt and found a bit of gold, and if the developer, Mawa, is able to make some changes to the game before really trying to attract a launch playerbase, Niantic may actually have a rival in the location-based alternate reality game genre.
Niantic’s recent Pokemon Go event succeeded where the Pokemon Company failed, with POGO players catching over 3 billion Pokemon well before the end of the event. I felt pride for my community and had begun thinking that despite the other event being for an enhanced version of a proper Pokemon game released last year, maybe Niantic was starting to better understand its audience.
Maybe that’s still true. However, it may also be that its game developers’ goals don’t align with players’. Just last week, POGO players were told that big changes had hit the game without the need for a client-side update. Our rewards were sweeter, cherished ‘mon returned to the raid boss list, and best of all, the exclusive, automated, invite-only EX Raids granting the only current way to obtain the strongest Pokemon, Mewtwo, would be granted to players who raid frequently and had ground-out reputation. This would replace the seemingly random system we’d been dealing with since the release of EX raids.
Apparently, though, the EX Raid changes either aren’t live or Niantic’s statements about how they would work were inaccurate.
Bloggers and journalists throughout the online gaming industry have been talking about monetization a lot lately. It’s not just lockbox/gachapon scandals, or their relationship with gambling, but basic monetization and what we want from it. Games, after all, don’t make themselves; we have to pay for something to make that happen. But some gamers seem to view free-to-play games as a game that should be free, not one to be supported if it earns respect. And on the flipside of that, far too few game studios give off a vibe not of experimenting with monetization but of maximizing profits above all else while barely veiling their greed.
However, outside the MMO world, there is a company that’s been doing it “right” for a long time: Nintendo. The AAA developer/publisher is known for both innovation and hesitance, following in others’ footsteps with great trepidation, trying to figure out the ins and outs while entering the mobile market long after it’s been established. The company recently released a new mobile title, but what’s interesting is that it and the company’s last four games are all different genres with different monetization strategies. Exploring these titles and their relationship to their monetization plans will not only highlight the potential success of the models but hint at why they work and how they can be curbed into models gamers and lawmakers can better accept.
When we first heard rumors about a Harry Potter version of Pokemon Go, I said I could barely imagine what the game might be like before listing several other IPs that would translate better as AR games. It’s not that I don’t like the Harry Potter series (I do) or Niantic (someone’s got to push the envelope). My issue is that I can’t see how their respective styles could combine to create something great.
So I’ve gone back to some of my pre-POGO notes about Ingress and what would need to change before it went live and, well, Niantic clearly thinks differently than I do because this game is very much happening. I thought it might be useful to consider Niantic’s past and how it may affect its upcoming game Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. Let’s dig in.
Recent Pokemon Go updates had been hinting at something big, and now finally we’ve got an official announcement from the team, and it’s big. Not, “another Pikachu with a hat” big (though we have another of those), but big enough that it could tempt people into returning to or starting the game.
Halloween and Generation 3+
Starting October 20 at noon PDT, players will be able to get double candy from walking/catching/hatching/transferring Pokemon, hatch/catch a Halloween inspired Pikachu, and get special store deals. Unlike other deals in the past, though, this one is offering super incubators (which help you hatch eggs faster) and raid passes, the game’s biggest money-makers. What kind discount remains to be seen, but the company’s been better about these packages since its anniversary failure.