‘Pokémon Go’ – First Week Impressions

Games Pokemon
Games Pokemon

Pokémon Go has now been out for 6 days and has experienced an almost unprecedented early success for the app when it comes to revenue and downloads. Even in my native UK downloads have been sky high, with many trainers competing around the globe to dominate the millions upon millions of gyms scattered worldwide. However, is it worth the time and energy to jump into the world of Pokémon, and what improvements could be made to improve what has already been a roaring success so far? Let’s take an in-depth look into the game…

Pokemon Go Change Org Petition

So, What Is Pokémon Go?

If you’re not sure about jumping into the game, Pokémon Go is available for Android or iOS users, involves the player catching wild monsters from all of the original 151 Pokémon. Once your account has started, they will get the chance to catch either Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle or (if you know where to look) Pikachu. After you’ve got your starter chosen, start walking around and you’ll start to see more Pokémon appearing in the wild, starting with weaker monsters you need to capture to build up experience points to then level up and capture stronger Pokémon. Eventually, you’ll reach level 5 opening up your ability to battle in and (hopefully) claim gyms, real life checkpoints the player attempts to take over to build up your renown. Multiple players can battle gyms at the same time in order to weaken them and claim them as their own, which also comes from the team system that also opens up after level 5.

Pokemon Go Battle Gyrados

Pick either team Instinct (Yellow, with Legendary Pokémon Zapdos as its mascot), Mystic (Blue, Articuno), or Valor (Red, Moltres) — each team’s signature legendary which will reportedly come into play at a later date. Beyond gyms, other real-life locations are marked as PokéStops, which offer the player Poké Balls or other items to acquire new Pokémon, Incense to draw more Pokémon in, Eggs which hatch into rarer Pokémon, and incubators used to hatch said eggs. When you catch a wild monster you’ll get candies and stardust to power up and evolve Pokémon, so you should catch as many as you can, even if you don’t keep all of them. You can also send weaker Pokémon back to the Professor to acquire more candies for your evolutionary needs. It’s all pretty exciting, at least at first, and you’ll definitely want to read our 10 Pokémon Go beginners tips.

Searching Far and Wide…

The issues with the game are unfortunately obvious from the start too. It’s immediately apparent when playing Pokémon Go that the majority of Pokémon are common, weak, and need to be extensively trained before ever being of any use in a gym battle. These Pokémon, such as Pidgey and Weedle, only showcase their strengths when evolved into the likes of Pidgeots and Beedrills, which can take a lot of time and even then aren’t much of a challenge against rarer beasts. In order to find quality Pokémon to collect and battle with, a lot of journeying is required because the monsters don’t appear frequently, especially not the powerful ones.

Pokemon Go In Real Life Walking Around

It doesn’t detract from the fun of the journey, though, as visiting many PokéStops gives a sense of discovery to mundane locations, and there’s a feeling of accomplishment finally catching a rare Pokémon, even one as crummy as a Magikarp or a Shellder. Additionally, getting a substantial collection of eggs further encourages players to be active, as they require a walking distance of between 2 and 10 km in order to hatch. While this is an excellent concept and exercises the user, combined with drives to encourage players to pick up trash along the way, the application actually has to be open for this to take place, which to be frank is a sometimes difficult goal for developer Niantic to reach based on the many, many reports of Pokémon Go‘s servers being down. Niantic has said they’re working on the issue, but a fix can’t come soon enough.

Fight… and Win!

Pokémon Go‘s main goal is to get players to battle gyms in order to gain experience and dominate the world. The action is based around tapping the screen to execute a basic attack and holding the screen for a more powerful attack, subject to a bar being filled, which is different for each move. This basic concept has already been a success, with so many gyms already claimed by the millions of people playing the game. However, the battling system is incredibly dumbed down, with no differentiation between physical and special attacks and only two attacks per Pokémon when the action finally goes down. And the game launched without PVP battles, a must for any Pokémon adventure.

Pokemon Go In Game Items

The shallow combat comes with notable errors where it’s very rare that a Pokémon will be allowed to use their more powerful second attack because during the time it takes to activate it the opposition is able to deal multiple attacks on the player, making it nearly unusable. The combat system definitely needs some tweaks, though you can’t doubt the accessible style and simplistic nature allows people of all skill levels to be included in the fun. Personally, I like this concept as it adds variety to the game despite its many flaws, and will be improved as Niantic release their updates over time.

Gym Used Infuriate! It’s Super Effective!

One key point of Pokémon Go, as aforementioned, is taking on gyms. However, considering the sheer magnitude of players currently partaking in this, players lose their gyms incredibly quickly, even in remote locations. This high turnover has its benefits, as it boosts the visitors of otherwise unpopular areas, such as garden centers and cafés. It can also have the interesting side effect of spreading awareness about current issues like over-expansion of housing or other environmental concerns that may affect the generation mostly targeted by the game. Not to mention is might increase profits f0r the smaller businesses that Pokémon Go players frequent in their search to catch ’em all.

About to take an unclaimed gym...

On the flip side, it’s incredibly frustrating knowing that as soon as you have exhausted your resources to overtake a gym, your spot will quickly be reclaimed. While initially very novel, if  you run dry on potions and revives you’ll be in an even worse position if you want a chance challenging any gyms. In order to improve on this annoying situation, PokéStops need to offer up many more potions and other healing items. It may also help to have Pokémon heal by small increments the further the player walks, thus encouraging players to walk more and experience all of the benefits associated with this.

So far, Pokémon Go has been an outstanding game, however not flawless. While the positives still outweigh the negatives, it is imperative that Nintendo and Niantic begin to roll out improvements as soon as possible to continue what has revolutionized mobile gaming forever within the space of a week.

Computer Science with Mathematics at Lancaster University, radio presenter, work intensively across Fandom and Discord.
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