Pokemon GO: Is It Worth It? - VRGyani News and Media

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Sunday, August 8, 2021

Pokemon GO: Is It Worth It?

It’s been five years since Pokémon GO was released with the promise to transform your phone into the ultimate tool in your Pokémon Trainer kit. The original concept of using Augmented Reality to make it look like wild Pokémon are all around you sounds like a dream come true. However, in the last five years, players have been living a love-hate relationship with the game, which, for many of us, results in an eternal cycle of rage-quitting and reinstalling Pokémon GO on our phones.

Every few months, developer Niantic pushes a change that displeases the community of Pokémon GO, which angrily grabs their torches and pitchforks and goes on to slam the game in their favorite gaming forum. Even so, the appeal of capturing wild Pokémon while going to the supermarket does make everyday life more pleasant. So, in anticipation of a rough month where we’ll all suffer from Niantic reversing all the COVID-era features we grew to love, let’s go through three of the main reasons to quit Pokémon GO (and three reasons why it keeps pushing us back into it).

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Pokémon GO Became a Lot More Combat-Focused...

The two weeks after Pokémon GO was released were probably the closest humanity ever got to world peace. The streets were filled with happy faces even in dark hours of weeknights; also, since everyone was out with their phones in their hands, we all felt a lot safer. The thrill of finding a rare Pokémon was exhilarating, and random people on the streets shouted out loud to let nearby players know when there was something interesting around.

While the collective hunt brought many people together with Pokémon GO, the franchise is also known for its competitive battles in which we force enslaved creatures to beat each other until they pass out. (You monsters!) As the months went by, Niantic added more combat features to Pokémon GO, expanding Arena Battles and Raids while also adding League combats. While there’s no problem offering many combat features, for those of us who are more concerned about filling our Pokédex, it sucks a little that some resources are locked behind battles. (Sinnoh Stones, I’m looking at you!)

Instead of just enjoying the pleasure of finding a new creature in the wild, we need to grind Pokémon until we get the ones with perfect IVs, then we need to force-feed the poor creatures with candy until they are pumped enough to take down everything in their way. Battling is the only way of getting Legendaries, and some Evolutionary Items are also scarce except as League rewards. This becomes a repetitive chore really fast, especially if you are in the game for the cute critters instead of the bragging rights.

… But It Still Offers the Ultimate Catch 'em All Experience

Even if combat became central to Pokémon GO, the game still offers the ultimate Catch ‘em All experience. There are six generations of Pokémon in the game already, and the recently added Galar page on the Pokédex is a clear indication that new critters will soon be released. So, it shouldn’t take long before Pokémon GO becomes the only game in the franchise where you can fill your Pokédex without going through the hell of transferring creatures between different systems that all work in unique ways.

Also, Pokémon GO doesn’t demand you to have both a Nintendo Switch and a Nintendo DS to complete your collection. All you need is a phone capable of running the game. As cellphone technology keeps improving, even cheap models can handle Pokémon GO pretty well—although Niantic really needs to double-check those data and energy consumption rates. Video games are expensive, especially in some parts of the globe; since we all must have cellphones anyway, for other communication reasons, it’s great that we can actually play a Pokémon game legally without compromising our monthly pay.

You Need to Have Friends Close By to Win Raids...

Let’s deal with the Donphan in the room: Niantic is reversing COVID-era changes added to Pokémon GO, and that will nerf damage dealt by players doing Raids remotely. In practical terms, that means it’s no longer worth wasting your Raid Passes on Raids that happen far away from you—with nerfed damage and limited remote player slots, chances of winning a Level 5 Raid are meager. So once again, we’ll need to go to the physical location of Raid towers and hope to find the right Legendary and enough players to take it down.

While Raids were initially supposed to be rare events that brought players together to take down rare Pokémon, now that we already have six generations of creatures in Pokémon GO, there are just too many Legendaries that are exclusively awarded in Raids. Completing your collection, then, becomes a matter of luck and having friends close by to actually walk around by your side. While we can all praise Pokémon GO’s intention of bringing us all together, it’s not always easy to find players next to you, with the exact schedules, willing to fight at the same time, to grab the same Pokémon you need. This is even worse for older players; we can no longer go to the park and ask children if they want to play with us. Growing up sucks! [Editor's note: It should go without saying, but with the rise of the COVID-19 Delta variant, keep the CDC and other health organization guidelines in mind.]

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…But You Can Still Access All the Main Features for Free

While Pokémon GO tries to push many paid features in the player’s direction, you can play the game for free. With the exception of cosmetics, there’s nothing you can’t get by just playing the game. Now that we can trade gifts with friends, it’s easy to keep your Pokéball and Potions stock always filled up. Also, instead of paying from their real-life pockets, players can get Pokécoins by defending Arenas, a nice feature that allows even the poorest of players to get some of those permanent upgrades—and let’s be honest, we all need more Backpack and Pokémon Storage space.

The number of Pokécoins you can get every day is capped at 50, and that’s a bummer, especially since we cannot take Pokémon out of Arenas whenever we’d like to. So, that means we frequently reach our limit on some occasions and get zero Pokécoins on most days, except if we live right next to an Arena. Even so, Pokémon GO does give the player more than enough to enjoy the more casual side of the game, a practice that’s unfortunately not that common on the mobile market.

The Game Thinks Everyone Lives in Big Cities...

As someone who moved around a lot in the last five years, I can personally confirm that the Pokémon GO experience changes a lot if you live in the city or a more rural area. Lucky players get two or three Pokéstops that they can access from their living room. Unlucky one needs to walk a couple of miles just to get a few Pokéballs. While Niantic is not responsible for deciding where everyone will live, there are easy means to make the Pokémon GO experience fun for everyone (allowing remote Raids without nerfs, for instance).

Since Pokéstops are the primary way to get free objects, Niantic could program each Pokéstop to give a number of items related to the distance to the next Pokéstop. So, if there are only a few Pokéstops in their area, the player still gets the same drops as someone who lives downtown. Niantic could also spawn Legendaries in the wild, where not even a Pokéstop is available. That could make city-dwellers move around more and go for those green areas. There are many tweaks possible, and every Pokémon GO player has their own suggestion to make the game fairer regardless of where you live. Unfortunately, Niantic keeps punishing you for living away from the city.

… But It Makes Me Get Off of My Couch

The most significant advantage of Pokémon GO is that you can play outdoors. While we can carry the Switch and the DS around, our phone is always in our pockets, so there’s no extra weight involved. Also, the casual nature of mobile games allows you to grab and drop Pokémon GO anytime you want, meaning you don’t need to play a lot to deal with your Poké-craving. Lastly, so much media is available nowadays that it’s easy to feel tempted to stay on the couch all day. There are more great movies, TV shows, and games that anyone could possibly consume in a single lifetime. So, it’s great to have a game that rewards you for getting up and walking around.

We can all play a little Pokémon GO while waiting in line at a bank or taking the bus for work. However, since many of the game’s mechanics are intertwined with a step count, Pokémon GO gives you reasons to just go out for a walk. We’ve all gone around the block one last time just to finish hatching an egg or to get some more candy for your favorite Pokémon. And in regions where Pokéstops are not that common, Pokémon GO even invites the player to explore the neighborhood. I’m more active because of Pokémon GO, and I’m sure that I’m not the only one.

There’s still a lot to fix in Pokémon GO to make it a rageless experience, but there’s also a lot to love in it, too. The reversal of COVID-era features is the latest blow from Niantic, and we’ll get a lot of (rightfully) angry fans while we all get used to the smaller range Pokéstops and nerfed remote Raids. Even so, there’s something that keeps bringing us back to Pokémon GO, probably the hope that the game will one day be able to really make us feel like a real Pokémon Trainer.

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