It was just over two years ago on a sunny day in July where everyone headed out of their homes glued to their smartphones. This was because they were out on a mission, the mission was to catch ’em all!
I still remember the reaction in my university when Dragonite spawned. It felt like a stampede as people ran down the stairs during class hours just to have a chance to catch it.
Pokémon GO has been launched for more than 2 years and a lot has changed over the past 700-plus days. For one, you’re probably not playing it anymore.
One the surface, the once-cool Dragonite is now the least of your problems as they have coveted legendary Pokémon to collect instead. Furthermore they have Pokémon up to the third generation with the fourth generation set to release pretty soon.
As a once addicted Pokémon GO player who walked 100 km in my first week of playing, I’m ashamed to say I quit the game after a few months. But, booting it up again, I’m very happy with how Niantic have continued with Pokémon GO and making what it is today, changing up and improving the gameplay.
1. Daily Field Research Challenges
One thing that was missing from Pokémon GO was the mechanism to make players come back to the game daily and rewarding players for it. Thus just a few months ago, Niantic added the Field Research Tasks, which comprise of day to day tasks which players can complete while playing Pokémon GO.
They usually involve spinning a certain amount of PokéStops, catching a certain number of a certain Pokémon type and more. Every time you complete a Field Research Quest, you’ll receive a stamp. Collect a certain number of stamps and you’ll unlock a Research Breakthrough.
Then you will get a special kind of reward crate containing mystery items and rewards. On certain days, you might even get a special Research Quest where you can get special Pokémon such as the legendary Mew and and Celebi.
2. Raids And EX Raids
Gone are the days where Gyms only function as a place for you to put your Pokémon and collect your PokeCoins. Now Gyms function as more than that as they also give out items (like the PokéStops do) and they are locations for “Raids”.
Raids or the more rarer EX Raids are time-sensitive battles against boss Pokémon. If you and other players (up to 20) defeat it, you get a chance at catching it. To get rare and exclusive Pokémon such as Mewtwo which are only available through EX Raids, players must meet a specific eligibility criterion: only those who have won regular Raid battles can receive the required Premium Raid pass.
They can also increase the likelihood that they’ll be invited in if they’re high-leveled, or if they’ve fought in a large number of Raids. EX Raids usually need at least 8 to 10 people who have strong Pokémon as it can be quite tough to beat the Boss Pokémon. Thus always have a group with you or you might end up going in alone and wasting your Raid Pass.
3. Trading (Like, Finally)
Pokémon GO has been lacking this feature since launch and players have been begging Niantic to implement trading into the game, as trading is big part of the original Pokémon games.
Certain Pokémon are region locked, which means if you want to catch ’em all you have to travel around the world to really do it (unless you hack the game which some players did).
To be able to trade with another player, you must first make friends with that trainer (yes, you can now add friends). The game will alert you when you’re close enough to a friend to be able to trade with them.
Once it does, access your Friends List and select the trade option. That will begin the trading process, which includes choosing the Pokémon you’d like to send over to your friend and vetting the one they’d like to send you in return.
Your first thought might be, “Finally my friend can trade me his perfect IV Mewtwo”. However the funny thing is that a Pokémon’s stats are scrambled once it’s involved in a trade, so say bye bye to that perfect IV Mewtwo.
Depending on the level of friendship you have with the person you’re trading with, the stats are tweaked to be more or less than they originally were. It will also cost a certain amount of Stardust (the in-game currency), with legendary or shiny Pokémon costing the most, up to 1 million Stardust!
Here To Stay
Although the hype died down and a lot of their user base has quit, however there still is a sizable group playing as seen in their community days and events held around the world.
Updates have been rolling out occasionally keeping the game alive and Niantic are (finally) listening to the players. It may be too little too late, but if you’re feeling that tinge of nostalgia and you boot up the game, perhaps you’ll find you like it even more than when you first started out two years ago.
Feature Image Credit: Pokémon GO on YouTube