Pokemon Go is arguably the biggest game this year. In less than half a year, the game has already hauled-in more than $500 million. With the way the game shot into stardom, it’s impossible for the game to fly under your nose. But just in case you’re miraculously just finding out about the game now and want to see what the fuss is all about, check out first what the game has in store for you.
It’s not a Pokemon game
Well, at least not in the most technical sense. Pokemon Go was developed by the Google-backed company Niantic – not Game Freak, which has served as the main games’ developer since Pokemon Red and Blue. Actually, even Nintendo wasn’t involved in the development of Pokemon Go: The Pokemon Company, a subsidiary of Nintendo, handled the game’s publishing.
This means that if you want get into Pokemon as a whole, Pokemon Go shouldn’t be your starting point. You’re better off experiencing the “real” Pokemon games first to get a full taste of what the franchise is all about. The first three generations of Pokemon games have already been treated with remakes, which you can easily dive into with a Nintendo 3DS. But if you want to jump straight into the middle of things, you can pick up Pokemon X and Y, or Pokemon Sun and Moon.
If you’ve already played the main games and think that Pokemon Go will simply be a continuation, then you’re mistaken as well. Pokemon Go has a lot of differences with the main games. You’ll barely recognize it. The main point is that you shouldn’t go into Pokemon Go thinking that it will offer the same things that the main games had.
The game is largely incomplete
There’s not much to do in Pokemon Go, really. You can’t even complete the Pokedex yet, no thanks to the continued absence of Articuno, Zapdos, Moltres, Mewtwo, Mew and Ditto. Although it was recently found out that Ditto may already be on the way, Niantic has yet to make any announcement. Aside from catching Pokemon, the only other thing you can do in the game is battle against overpowered Gym defenders. If you’re a new player, good luck with that.
It’s rare to find an empty Gym these days. And even if you did luck out and had the opportunity to occupy an empty Gym, you’ll most likely lose it in less than 24 hours. The good news is that you can still properly train in friendly Gyms, thanks to the recently added ability to scale down the CP of ally Gym defenders.
There are still a lot of missing features in the game. The most notable of which is the lack of a useful tracking system. Bluntly speaking, the Sightings feature is useless. Period. So expect to find yourself blindly walking in random directions a lot. If the idea doesn’t sound too enticing, you can hold off playing the game until the still-in-testing Nearby feature is fully implemented. Of course, you can easily opt to buy a Pokemon Go account instead, one that already has a handful of Pokemon at your disposal.
Player-versus-player battling and trading are still missing-in-action as well, although there’s a rumor that these two features will arrive in a major update later next month. Which is actually a curious time for Niantic to release such features. Winter is on the way, which means a heavy dose of snow in many areas. If Niantic releases a major update next month which include PVP battling and trading, players would be hard-pressed to go out in the cold weather. You can only imagine the reaction of players in snow-covered countries while players in tropical countries fully enjoy the contents of the rumored big update.
Lastly, Pokemon Go only has the 151 first-gen Pokemon available, with six of those still unavailable, as mentioned. If you think it’s a daunting task to catch more than 100 Pokemon, then brace yourself for the eventual arrival of 600 more Pokemon. Of course, Niantic won’t drop them in one update. According to data-miners, the second-gen Pokemon may be on the way. Still, the game still feels incomplete without all the other Pokemon. If you’re new to the franchise, this shouldn’t really bother you too much, though.
At specific situations, the game is unplayable
The main idea in Pokemon Go is for players to walk around outside. The gameplay is tailored for this idea. Pokemon spawn in different locations. Gyms and PokeStops – pit stops that net you free items – are located in places of interest, like important buildings, monuments and other landmarks. Incubators, which are used to hatch the Pokemon eggs you receive, require you to cover specific distances. And the recently added Buddy System entices you to walk even more.
However, the game can also be played while you’re on-the-move but not exactly walking. Meaning, you’re inside a moving vehicle. This is actually one of the best ways to visit numerous PokeStops in a short amount of time, especially for players who boot the game while commuting to and from work or school. Unfortunately, this led to some accidents as some players play the game while driving.
Without releasing any official statement, Niantic quietly included safety measures in the game. First, Pokemon no longer spawn at speeds which Niantic deems as “driving speed.” And second, you can no longer “spin” PokeStops in the same speed. This means you will have practically nothing to do at certain speeds. At first glance, this seems like an understandable move by Niantic. Until you realize that not everyone actually drives while in driving speed. A lot of players are simply passengers inside a train, a bus, or even a car. This makes it totally unfair for those players.
The takeaway from this is that Pokemon Go isn’t a game that you can really play while travelling inside a vehicle that meets Niantic’s criteria of “driving speed.” Which is a huge bummer as mobile games are supposed to be played on-the-go. But don’t worry; the vehicle you’re riding in would really need to go fast first for the “safety measures” to kick in.
Don’t let these three things dissuade you from trying out Pokemon Go, though. We only wanted to make sure that you know what you’re getting into. But if you’re put-off by these things, there’s always the more-complete League of Legends to dive into.