Looking at Pokémon GO and What It Might Include
Since I've been a kid, I've been a fairly avid fan of Pokemon. With every new generation of games, I usually pick up one of the 5 or 6 games. The adventuring aspect is strong and discovering new things (whether they be areas, monsters, items, or people) is highly addicting. It's the reason why so many people play through the game, beat the strongest trainers, catch all the legendaries, they just start over. Some of us, therefore, look for new ways of experiencing that same adventure.
What We Know
While not originally a product of The Pokemon Company, this game is created with their support. The company in charge of Pokemon GO is Niantic Labs, a group that's responsible for a mobile game called Ingress (which is for the most part Pokemon except without trading and battling and replace the monsters with portals you tag for points) that received a good amount of success. By good amount, I've read reports of people flying to Alaska to hit certain portals there, people electrifying fences to prevent other people from hitting portals in their backyard, people fighting due to these hotspots, and so forth. All of this and more for a property that doesn't have as much fandom as Pokemon does.
Pokemon GO will be an app for Android and IOS phone users, free to download (with in-app purchases available but not necessary). It's an augmented reality game, meaning your phone will use your location and your surroundings to help generate a world where you'll travel to destinations to catch Pokemon with your phone. Reportedly, there will also be battles with other Trainers (which likely means there's a leveling mechanic as screenshots have already shown that Pokemon come with levels), as well as trade with them. In the promotional trailer (included below), it also claims that there will be events where multiple trainers can join in, such as taking down a Lv. 70 Mewtwo.
Unfortunately, all we have is two available screenshots and a trailer that definitely doesn't depict how the final product will look. It is also planned for some time in 2016.
Reading Between the Lines...
Apparently Ingress made some people crazy, so what will an Ingress-engine do with Pokemon properties, a franchise that already makes people of all ages go nuts already? I already see plenty of potential for some really warm-blooded people fighting over pieces of data representing a collectable monster.
This also appears to be one of the first Pokemon titles that's aimed primarily at adults. Why you might think? In these days, kids as young as ten (and in some cases, even younger) possess their own fully-functioning phones. However, if this kid living in the city finds out there's an Abra 500 meters outside of his front door, he might very well walk outside and follow the trail until he gets caught literally in traffic or finds himself in an alley. Adults that are really committed to this game can freely go out, whether by shoes or car, to these hotspots and play with a good deal more security. As funny and fitting as it might be for a ten year old to pick up this game and play it in the real world, it's not ideally safe.
There's also going to be more than a fair amount of money in this. Yes, while the game is free to play, some people are going to find it hard to find certain Pokemon. Some people will make it their hobbies (or even a job) of collecting everything they can and selling it to other people either in person or online. There's also the in-game app purchases which may be Pokemon or items which I'm almost positive will be equatable to something like the money spent on Candy Crush. The game just needs to be spread out to the masses and the only thing that will stop that is no advertising whatsoever.
Things to Speculate On
I've just compiled a random list of things that I'm curious if Pokemon GO will incorporate, do something different with, and similar things.
- Will we still be nicknaming our Pokemon? Lots of people enjoy doing this in the original games to current games. And if we do, will there be that censorship cap on what some of the names involved? As one of the first Pokemon games that's speculated to be made mostly for adults, I suppose it's possible but doesn't really matter that much to me.
- As maybe pointed out by the trailer, are all Legendary Pokemon hidden behind Events? It would save me a trip to Antarctica to catch an Articuno but at the same time, if it's possible, I might not want to have half a dozen people crowding around me all trying to catch the same Pokemon.
- Also, is this only the first 150/151 Pokemon? The trailer doesn't seem to indicate any differently.
- If I'm walking through the city with some friends and we see a Pokemon, do we individually race to see who can catch it? Or if someone catches it, will it still be there for multiple captures by other people?
- What about Shiny Pokemon? Since the only real effect a Shiny Pokemon has is its palette swap and rarity, it seems a one-two step to include it into the game. Would they be put out into the wild? Would their rarity be similar to how hard-to-find they are in the games? Would they only be released as the aforementioned events or in-game purchases? If collecting Pokemon is a major money-maker, then surely super-rare Pokemon is even moreso.
- Are any Pokemon going to be region-locked? Sure, there's talk and considerations for only finding Pokemon in their 'native environments' (such as Fire Pokemon like Charizard theoretically near inactive and active volcanoes, Pikachu likely in urban or forrest areas, and aquatic Pokemon near bodies of water), but in the games in the few times they refer back to the real world, some Pokemon are specifically described to certain continents. Take Mew for example, who's said to be seen in South America. Is traveling there or trading with someone who has the only way to get a Mew?
- Will the seasons affect what Pokemon will appear? If Articuno isn't region or event locked, do I have to wait until winter to see one?
- What about Pokemon that evolve only with an external stimuli? Will we be seeing Pokemon that evolved by stones, trading, or similar circumstances in Pokemon Go in the wild? Only extremely rarely were they seen in the wild in the main franchise of games.
- Is our only interaction with wild Pokemon going to be catching them? As my friend Amir guessed, they could make it a scenario like the Safari Zones, places in the game where you didn't battle wild Pokemon but used unique items to lower their resistance to being captured.
- And if we can battle wild Pokemon, does that mean people will also be raising their Pokemon's levels by battling wild ones as they do in the game? This is probably one of the weakest areas in the original games (grinding against wild types) and it seems kinda lame to be going on hikes just to grind levels. Furthermore, how deep will this battling system go? Are we using stats? EVs? IVs? There's a mess of depth.
- And, most importantly, if I go spelunking will my phone be detecting a million Zubats?
A Promotional Video without Real Gameplay
I am, somewhat ashamedly, excited for this and am looking forward to more information. In my head, infrequent encounters with Pokemon in my weekly schedules (and while hiking, visiting family, and so forth) seems fun and can spice up otherwise regular routines. Will it be addicting? Most likely, yes. Will I be involving myself in the money side of things? Most likely not.
Still, I'll be updating this page as I come across new information. Be sure to comment below with how you're feeling about the game, as well as thoughts as what they should or should not incorporate into its final design.