When Pokemon GO first released, millions of players rushed through the opening moments of the game, desperately wanting to capture their very first Pokemon. Part of these opening moments is the character customization screen, which unknowing newcomers to the game didn’t realize was the only time you’d be able to choose what your character looked like. Fast forward a few days, and those choices you made in such haste have come to haunt you as your jacket color and bag just don’t match. The realization that you’ll be stuck with this crime against fashion lingers over you for months.
That is until Niantic released an update that allowed players to simply tap on their character’s face in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen and customize their character from a menu. Thousands of trainers cried out in relief, and the world of Pokemon GO fashion was saved a huge tragedy.
The Nearby feature in Pokemon GO wasn’t something that had been added in, but more something that got completely removed and reworked since the game’s launch. When trainers first started exploring their nearby surroundings for wild Pokemon, many were finding that the Nearby feature, which used different numbers of footprints below the silhouette of a ‘mon to indicate how close one was to you, simply didn’t work. Seemingly unable to fix it in the chaos of the hype-fueled launch, Niantic removed the feature promising it would return. Months later, it finally did.
When Nearby first returned on the scene, it would only show Pokemon that were close to nearby PokeStops. Not the most useful feature for those who weren’t nearby any PokeStops. Niantic then released a Sightings option and tweaked the Nearby distance a little, too. Now, players who weren’t nearby a PokeStop could check sightings of nearby Pokemon, while Nearby would alert them to any near PokeStops. It was a handy way to accommodate to both players living in rural and urban environments, and have players having a useful way to check what was nearby that they could chase.
Though not something massively revolutionary, the Buddy System was a pretty great way to make your Pokemon GO experience feel a little more personal to you. In a September update, the Buddy System was introduced and allowed you to choose one of your captured Pokemon to feature next to your character’s avatar.
Not only did this make you feel a little more attached to your favorite creature, but at a particular distance that varied depending on species, your buddy Pokemon would earn one candy. Considering some Pokemon could be a real pain to get candy for, this was a great way to make the grind that little bit less of a nuisance.
Upon its initial release, Pokemon GO simply featured medals. Other than granting you a nifty XP bonus when reaching particular milestones in the game, they didn’t really do much else. And while these aren’t entirely devoid from the game now, the new catch bonus system makes good use of the medals that track the types of Pokemon you’re catching.
This catch bonus meant that if you start catching a ton of a particular type, you’d get an increased catch bonus that makes capturing that specific type of Pokemon easier. For example, the Swimmer medal is awarded for catching set amounts of Water-type ‘mon. Upon reaching 50, the player will receive a +2 Catch bonus which will then make catching more Water-type Pokemon even easier. A neat little way to make catching the same common Pokemon over and over again a little less boring.
Training Gyms hasn’t changed fundamentally since Pokemon GO released, but it has been altered in order to make things that little bit more balanced and fair for Gym defenders. Prior to the update, training up a Gym meant you took one Pokemon and tried to fight your way through all of the creatures currently defending it.
When Niantic opted to amend this in October, trainers who wanted to train a Gym could now take in six Pokemon with them to help make their way through the defenses. Not only did this make grinding your Gym way less difficult, but it also made for more balanced Gym battles. An integral update, especially considering Gym battles are at the center of the Pokemon GO experience.
Catching the same Pokemon over and over again was a perfect way for slowly leveling up your trainer, but also for getting that sweet candy you needed to power up and evolve your Pokemon. Unfortunately, when it came to transferring Pokemon out of your inventory, it was overly time-consuming.
For some reason, there was no way to transfer multiple Pokemon at once. However, in one of Pokemon GO’s most recent updates, the ability to bulk transfer has been added in. Now you can make it rain Pidgey candy and clear out your inventory without it taking 10 minutes.
More PokeStops and Gyms
As many suspected might happen upon the game’s release, the Poke Stops and Gyms that litter the world map in GO have increased in number, thanks to a partnership deal with Starbucks. Announced early last week, a majority of Starbucks stores across the US have been turned into Poke Stops, making collecting items and earning XP far more common.
For dedicated trainers, being able to pick up an extra few Poke Balls every so often is incredibly useful and having another Gym to contest with their rivals only provides more incentive to log in each day. Considering every Pokemon is an opportunity for candy and evolving to get those last few you’ve yet to get, a constant supply of items is more than welcome. It’s also the start of what could potentially be far more interesting deals. Perhaps we could see the legendary Pokemon appearing at a fast-food chain in the coming months, too.
Festive Events (and Pokemon)
Niantic has been making good use of real-life holidays to make things a little bit more interesting in the Pokemon GO world. Not only was there a special Halloween event that had candy and ghost Pokemon incredibly common, but today it was revealed that players will be able to get themselves a festive Pikachu for a limited amount of time over the holidays.
As a now common feature in online games that tend to have players checking in every day such as Destiny and Overwatch, Pokemon GO has given players who hadn’t opened the app in a while an incentive to jump back in. It’s also nice to get a little mix up in the typical experience, and if we get a festive Pikachu, who are we to complain?
Generation II in Pokemon GO
It feels like ever since the game released, players have been desperate for Niantic to add in Pokemon from generation II and beyond. Finally, five months since the initial launch, Pokemon GO is receiving a few gen II Pokemon to get things started. Currently confirmed to be Togepi and Pichu among others, these will certainly give players a reason to open the app and exploring the great outdoors once again.
As the number of generation II ‘mon in the game continues to increase, you can expect GO to surge back up in popularity with plenty of empty spaces in the Pokedex to be filled.
Combat Power Adjustments
One of the biggest changes that GO has received since its launch was the Combat Power adjustments that were implemented in an update back in November. The CP update meant that some Pokemon’s Combat Power increased and others decreased. While trainers whose Pokemon belonged to that of the latter party were understandably disappointed, it did make for a more enjoyable overall experience.
The Combat Power tweaks were essentially a means of rebalancing each Pokemon’s battling capabilities. Now, Gym battles are far more balanced and make for a more competitive and exciting experience that’s necessary to keep the game relevant.
Pokemon GO was a great experience, but the cycle of looking for a Poke Stop, catching wild Pokemon, and challenging the occasional Gym got all a little too repetitive, especially when the grind became so unbearable. In order to make it less painful, Niantic added in Daily Bonuses.
These rewarded players for simply catching Pokemon or visiting PokeStops every day with increasing amounts of XP and Stardust. For example, a one-day streak awards 500XP and 600 Stardust, while a seven-day streak awards 2500 XP and 3000 Stardust. The streaks helped to make long level grinds pass that little bit faster, and gave players a reason to check in and play each day.
We Finally Have Ditto
When players first got their hands on Pokemon GO and started filling the Pokedex, it soon became clear that one ‘mon was disappointingly absent. Said Pokemon was Ditto, the gooey morphing creature that takes on the form of its opponent.
Finally, in November, Niantic released Ditto into the wilderness of the world and it’s since been captured thousands of time. The mystery behind the Pokemon has finally been solved, and many will be hoping its appearance is a sign of the legendary Pokemon incoming.
While many long-term trainers will have jumped into GO and are likely still catching Pokemon in the real-world, the franchise’s jump onto mobile also brought about a bunch of newcomers to the series. Unfortunately, GO doesn’t do a great job of explaining every important tidbit of information and one such thing that was largely overlooked at the game’s release was typing. This meant that hardcore Pokemon fans familiar with the typing chart of strengths and weaknesses had the advantage over newcomers.
That was until an update was implemented that now means that a Gym’s Pokemon will now show their typing on the Gym screen. This now means that players can get an idea of what the weaknesses will be and suitably select their team with this in mind. With such a casual audience, clearly labeling a Pokemon’s typing only makes for more interesting battles, rather than unbalanced ones.