When Pokémon Go first released it was like magic. I would sling on my backpack, start up the app, and walk out into the newly christened "PokéWorld". I couldn't travel more than just a few feet without seeing someone staring at their phone and swiping in a familiar pattern. The game had taken over the world. News headlines were all about Pokémon Go. It replaced the barrage of coverage on a chaotic political climate with "Have you caught a Pikachu?" The world felt more friendly and Trainers were everywhere. I never wanted it to be "just a fad."
Months passed and the infatuation died, and with it, the number of players. Gone were the clusters of people gathered around a PokéStop at 3 a.m. Gone were the moments I would run into an old high school friend playing the game. Pokémon Go was on a downward spiral that neither holiday events nor the Johto update which added over 80 new Pokémon could reverse. With the player count dwindling and number of friends no longer playing, I deleted Pokémon Go.
I believed that one day #Niantic could do something to revive the game, even if only to a fraction of its former crowd. With Pokémon Go's latest update – which is now live – I feel the hope I longed for. Here's why I have faith it could reinvigorate the game.
Raids Are What The Community Needs
Remember that initial Pokémon Go trailer that had hundreds of people meeting up to take down Mewtwo? Well that's finally happening in this new update.
Raid battles are designed to appear over gym locations. An egg will spawn with a timer and when the egg hatches a powerful Pokémon with ridiculously high CP will appear – nearly impossible to take down alone. Up to 20 trainers can fight this Pokémon and have only 5 minutes to claim victory. If they fail, the battle will continuously restart for an hour only ending sooner if Trainers win before then.
If players succeed, they earn some of the new items along with a chance to catch the raid Pokémon, albeit at a much lower CP. When trying to catch the new Pokémon, you receive a number of Premier balls, these are strictly for catching the raid #Pokémon so if you run out, your chances of catching that Pokémon are done.
It's clear raids are definitely focusing on bringing the community back together, but that's not to say the gym rework isn't doing the same.
Revamped Gyms Allow Everyone A Chance
The way gyms were originally introduced was harmful to the game. Not only were they filled with bugs that prevented players from being able to defeat defending Pokémon, but the overall structure only allowed a select few to reap gym rewards. Pokémon with high CP had an unfair advantage allowing Trainers to keep their defending Pokémon in some gyms for months with little fear of having their Pokémon removed. This began to deter players from even wanting to fight high level gyms.
It also didn't help that gyms were almost always filled with the same damn Pokémon: Dragonite, Vaporeon, Tyranitar, Snorlax, and that's about it. Seriously, variety would be nice! Niantic saw this too (finally). The new gym rework alleviates all these problems.
Here's how it works:
- Gym Prestige is gone.
- Each gym can have 6 Pokémon of the controlling team at any given time.
- All 6 Pokémon must be of a different species.
- Pokémon are fought in the order they were placed.
- Rewards are only claimed after your Pokémon returns from the gym.
At the heart of all this is the motivation system. Every Pokémon at a gym needs to keep their motivation up or else their CP will drop, allowing them to be easily defeated. You can keep their motivation up by feeding them berries. Players of the same team can also feed your Pokémon berries for which they'll receive rewards. So everyone on the same team has something to gain from helping out, thus making the teams a player chooses to be on something more than just a name and a color. Now if I could just defend these gyms with even more powerful Pokémon, like say, legendaries?
Team Up With Friends To Catch Legendaries!(?)
Catching Pokémon with your friends regardless of what team they were on is what the majority of the gameplay was centered on. Unfortunately, this grew stale as players began to actually "catch 'em all." With the original 150 Pokémon still proving the series' most popular, bringing in newer generations of monsters to catch can only do so much. However, not all of the original 150 have been released; we're still missing legendaries and fans want them. Thankfully, these raid battles may prove that we're closer to catching them than ever before.
What we know so far about raids (the feature is still rolling out) is that they will be broken down into five tiers of varying difficulty. What exactly defines this difficulty is unknown, because Niantic is still being Niantic and not releasing all the information. What we can speculate is that difficulty tiers are either related to player level or the number of active trainers in the area. If it's based on player level then it's obvious, the higher your level the harder the raid boss. If it's based on the number of people in an area, however, that's where things get interesting.
Later this year Chicago will be hosting the first major #PokémonGo event. With this new feature dropping and a high concentration of Trainers present, there's speculation that higher tier raid bosses will appear, some of which may be legendary Pokémon. We already know legendaries have been confirmed to release this year so what better a time than an event such as this? Hopefully after the event, legendaries will spawn regularly as raid bosses so more players can catch them.
The most vital component of Pokémon Go's success was bringing the community together. Niantic seems to be have made note of that with this new update that encourages playing together. It's proof they're on the right track and knowing they are just scratching the surface with more updates to come, I'm hopeful. If there's a chance these changes can reignite what once was, I welcome it. Because I, like many others, would love to return to that PokéWorld and its magic.