It’s hard to believe it has been two years since Pokémon GO first launched. Pokémon GO is one of those defining video games, where you look at the industry in terms of before its release, and after.
To think that it was only two years ago where the whole world was reunited, if briefly, in their aspirations to become a master Pokemon trainer. The rush of excitement when it was discovered that a rare Pokemon was sighted, and everyone rushing together to one spot. Sure, Pokémon GO may not be the phenomenon it was when it first launched, but its still making millions of dollars every damn day.
The Pokémon GO of today is a lot different than the Pokémon GO of 2016. More features are being added all the time, and the number of Pokemon keeps increasing. On the flip side, some promised features still haven’t arrived. As with many mobile games, Pokemon Go is ever-changing, and in two years, a lot has happened.
A Phenomenon For the Ages
Even if you didn’t play Pokémon GO, you knew of it. It made national headlines. More people were walking, thanks to its distance-specific goals. People walked into places they shouldn’t have. Bodies… were found. But most of all, communities were formed.
It wasn’t the gameplay mechanics that made Pokémon GO stand out. Honestly, the gameplay itself is pretty lackluster. It was its effect on the real-world. Pokémon GO brought people into the world like no video game has before. Finding a fellow member of your team was like finding a long-lost friend. Few games have had the impact on the real world like Pokémon GO has. And maybe it’s because it forced you out into the world.
But let’s not discredit the Pokémon of it all. There’s nothing like discovering Pokémon right outside your house. Many Pokémon GO knock-offs have been released since, but none of them can capture that magic. Sure, seeing dinosaurs in your town may be fun, but that doesn’t compare to your first time seeing a Pidgey in your backyard.
Gotta Catch ‘Em All
Obviously, Pokémon GO launched with the original 151 monsters (give or take a few legendaries…and Ditto). This was the perfect way to draw in the biggest numbers possible. Those with Red and Blue nostalgia, and those who were present-day Pokémon fans. But everyone knew better.
In a franchise all about collecting, more monsters would need to be added. But which ones? Do you go with the obvious, and introduce Johto-originated Pokemon? Or maybe something a little unexpected, with Alolan creatures? (Lest we forget, Sun and Moon came out a few months after Pokémon GO launched.)
Johto Pokémon began to be rolled out throughout late 2016 and early 2017, first with the introduction of baby Pokémon available exclusively through eggs. Legendary Pokémon finally were introduced, available through group-focused raid battles. Ditto, who prefers to be disguised as common Pokemon such as Pidgey and Rattata, finally came out of hiding. Hoenn Pokemon began to be seen in late 2017, with a special Halloween event.
The most intriguing Pokémon introduction thus far has been Mew, the first (and so far only) mythical Pokemon. Mew is only available after completing special field research, or Pokémon GO’s version of quests. Celebi has also been recently-announced to be available through field research in the near future. Most recently Alolan forms of Kanto Pokemon have surfaced, mainly through special 7KM eggs.
Pokémon GO is constantly evolving, adding more and more creatures to add to your collection, and giving trainers more reason to go out into the world. With Sinnoh Pokémon all but confirmed, and a special Eighth Generation Pokémon debuting in the game, there will be more creatures than ever for you to capture.
To say Pokémon GO‘s launch was bumpy is probably being generous. There were server issues, and problems with tracking Pokemon, which have, for the most part, been resolved. And as the game went on, more and more improvements were made.
The first major feature added was the concept of Buddy Pokemon. You can select one of the monsters in your collection to walk with you, and a candy will be received after walking a certain distance. For harder to catch Pokémon (like starters), or Pokémon that require a large number of candy to evolve (like Magikarp), this was a big change.
In summer of 2017, raid battles were introduced. This took the community aspect of Pokémon GO and amplified it. Players could now work together in-game to take down super strong Pokemon. This was also how legendaries were introduced, starting with the legendary birds.
With the introduction of Hoenn Pokemon, the game was updated to reflect the real-world weather. Depending on the weather, certain types would be more frequent. Of all the new features, this one helped change up the game the most. It changed up what Pokemon could appear day-to-day, making some previously rare Pokemon more common. Field research gave trainers rewards for completing various tasks, such as catching a certain number of Pokémon.
One of the most significant updates came only a few weeks ago. Trading, a promised feature from the start, finally saw its debut. This came about with the introduction of a friend system. Players can send their friends gifts, which may contain those aforementioned 7KM eggs.
To compare Pokémon GO of 2016 to the Pokémon GO of today is a night-and-day comparison. Some features still aren’t available, but there’s no denying it is a much fuller game.
Let’s Go, Pokémon
The biggest impact of Pokémon GO may have yet to come. Pokémon Let’s Go, Pikachu and Pokémon Let’s Go, Eevee will be launching this November. As the name implies, Pokémon GO will have a big impact on these titles. The Let’s Go games are designed to be a hybrid of the mobile and mainline worlds. So while battling and exploring the world will be the same, catching Pokémon will be a bit difference.
It can be said that a lot of the success of Pokémon GO came from the catching mechanics. The simplicity of it works perfect with a mobile device, and makes it accessible to everyone. That is where the Pokémon GO influence comes from. With slight modifications, Let’s Go will use the same mechanics to catch Pokémon, berries and all.
With an emphasis on the ability to connect to Pokémon GO, the influence is even more profound. As stated earlier, we’ll (most likely) get our first glimpse of the next generation of Pokémon in Pokémon GO. Not much is known about the Eighth Generation (understandably), but one wonders what influence Pokémon GO will have on that game.
Considering this game is being positioned as a ‘hardcore’ Pokémon game, it’s unlikely we’ll see as much influence as Let’s Go. But still, Pokémon GO‘s influence on the series cannot be underestimated.
Long Live Pokémon GO
Pokémon GO’s time in the spotlight may be over, but don’t expect it to go away anytime soon. Its first year was rough, full of glitches and crashes. The culmination of that was Pokémon GO Fest, an event so badly botched Niantic was forced to offer refunds. We’ll be getting another GO Fest later this month, so we shall see if that will offer redemption.
There’s still issues with Pokémon GO, for sure. Battling in gyms is still pretty clunky. Player-vs-player battles still haven’t arrived. But to me, none of that matters. Pokémon GO has never been about battling. For me, it has been about wandering, and exploring the outside world. My goal is still to own a living Pokédex (which is fairly difficult when living in a more rural area). To that end, I’m outside almost every day with my app in hand. Going to Pokéstops, hatching eggs, all in the name of acquiring more monsters.
That’s why I think so many people went to, and still come to Pokémon GO. It’s more than collecting weird monsters. Pokémon GO takes something fairly mundane, the outside world around you, and turns it into something fantastical. It may never be an objectively ‘good’ game, but Pokémon GO is beyond that. It’s one of the best, and most influential, experiences in the video game industry.
So go out, trainers. May it be another exciting, eventful year in the world of Pokémon.
Are you still playing Pokémon GO? If not, it’s a great time to get back in, especially with all of the second anniversary events! Be sure to let us know your thoughts on Pokémon GO, and follow our social channels for more Pokémon content!