It’s been two days since Pokémon Go took the world by storm, and my Facebook feed is still flooded by people posting about it. For those of you who have been living under a rock, Pokémon Go is the new augmented reality game produced by Niantic and Nintendo. As a pretty active toad in Ingress, I’ve been looking forward to this game for a long time.
Pokémon Go uses GPS to determine a trainer’s location. As a player walks around, they’ll randomly encounter Pokémon that they can catch. Instead of Ingress’s portals, Pokémon Go has pokéstops where trainers can grab more pokéballs or snag some items.
At level 5, trainers pick from one of three teams – Mystic, Valor, and Instinct. Some special locations have been designated as gyms, which trainers can then claim by leaving Pokémon behind to defend them. Gyms that have already been claimed by other teams can be attacked.
Now that it’s actually out, I’ve got to admit that I’m a little disappointed, and here are a few reasons why:
Anybody who lives in the EST timezone should know what I’m talking about. The amount of issues the Pokémon Go servers have experienced are ridiculous. Sure, Niantic probably didn’t expect the insane amount of users that it attracted, but it’s gotten to the point where many non-EST players only play at ridiculous EST times in order to avoid server crashes. Not to mention, crashes seem to happen juuuust when you’re about to catch that pretty little dratini you’ve had your eye on. For me, the servers went down the moment I tried to challenge gyms, which was incredibly frustrating.
Grinding for more EXP? Nope – Pokémon Go has a different system from all the Pokémon games of old. Pokémon Go’s leveling mechanic requires spending Stardust (which comes from catching more Pokémon) to gain more combat power. The evolution system requires both stardust and a specific type of Pokémon candy – which can only be obtained by catching more of that specific Pokémon. Since it’s possible to catch evolved forms, it seems kind of pointless to spend the copious amounts of time required to power up and evolve a certain Pokémon. Also, the combat power of the Pokémon you could catch seemed arbitrary – sometimes I would catch a CP 19, and other times I would catch a CP 204.
This is one of my main qualms with the game – I was hoping to be able to PvP with other players. However, the only way to battle other trainers is through gyms. The Pokémon left behind as defenders will auto-battle the active attacking trainer. For me, this almost feels the same as battling an AI – pretty unsatisfying. Also, it seems a little unfair to be able to use six Pokémon against the one or two defenders that are left at each gym. The departure from traditional turn-based Pokémon battles was interesting, but I felt that turn-based combat would have been easier to deal with on a phone.
Or, lack thereof. One of my favorite parts of Ingress is the community – people are so friendly, and global chat makes communicating with other agents incredibly easy. I’m sure that these functions will be added later on, but the fact that they didn’t come with the release was a little disappointing.
I have to say, I wasn’t expecting Pokémon Go to release until 2017, so when the July 2016 release date was announced, I was really surprised. However, it feels like we got a game that still belongs in beta. To be fair, the issues haven’t stopped me from playing the game obsessively. Still, hopefully Niantic and Nintendo will fix up the kinks and the server issues soon.