The One Step Niantic Is Missing In Pokemon Go
A recent update to Niantic’s Pokemon Go has added a few pretty cool features and Pokemon. Pokemon from the Sinnoh region are now available to catch, and you know you gotta catch ’em all. This is a nice way to get Pokemon Go players to continue to come back (That whole Psychic Pokemon appearing everywhere… I never want to see Drowsy again.) And it’s practically expected of Niantic because really, where do you go with the game if you can’t add more of the little pocket monsters?
The new update also brought us AR+. To use AR+, you need to download ARCore on your phone. It’s pretty cool once you’ve got AR+ up and running. Clicking on a Pokemon in the map leads you to your camera view of AR+, where you must look around and tap again to actually find the Pokemon in the wild. Not bad, you’re finally using the real world in an interesting way, Niantic! Not to mention, the Pokemon are now in fixed locations in AR+. This means they stay in one spot, pretty much. I did read this keeps them on the ground, but the Charmander floating in the middle of my closet’s wall sure didn’t appear to be grounded. Anyway. Because of this fixed location, it’s possible to sneak up behind or beside the Pokemon, theoretically. But the Pokemon now have a new feature of their own: They react to your movement. An exclamation point in a speech bubble beside the Pokemon will indicate how alarmed it is as you approach. You can move slowly but keep an eye on the meter regardless.
It all sounds pretty good so far, but there’s one feature Niantic could potentially add to Pokemon Go that would make it feel more like a Pokemon game. And it’s actually kind of bizarre it’s missing.
Maybe this feature isn’t part of the game because it’s missing in current or recent Pokemon games. I can’t honestly say I’ve played the game since the original Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow days, even though my roommate wants me to try his recent versions. And to be honest, this feature missing from any of the core games would feel weird, in my opinion.
I’m talking about battling. Not the Pokemon battling at a gym or during raids or anything. Although, keep that in mind. I mean the Pokemon battling against the wild Pokemon that appear. That’s still a thing, right??
Niantic’s Pokemon Go has a buddy system, where you choose one Pokemon to walk everywhere with you and they earn candy for X amount of kilometers walked. They also have a battle system already spoken about, where your Pokemon fights against a gym’s Pokemon. For simplicity’s sake, couldn’t Niantic find a way to use your buddy Pokemon in a situation against a wild Pokemon? And since you already have an option to runaway, which still keeps the wild Pokemon in the same position on the map view, Niantic could let you quickly change your buddy so you could re-enter a match against a wild Pokemon and use the buddy system a little more strategically.
This wouldn’t make the gym battles any less appealing but it may make throwing Pokeballs a little more engaging. Am I wrong?
If Niantic wanted to make it even more like the original games in spirit, they also have a team party feature, where you can select 6 Pokemon to form a party for gym and raid battles. And while that’s cool on its own, I often see my parties broken up at any gym battle with “recommended” Pokemon to battle with anyhow. So, the point of creating a party for gym purposes seems a little lost, to me.
But if Niantic let you create a Pokemon party you could choose from when encountering a wild Pokemon, you could have even more strategic fun in the game. And unless I’m mistaken, part of the fun in Pokemon games involved how strategic you could be in them.
And, not to discourage Niantic from adding this feature, but by letting us either use a buddy or a party feature for wild Pokemon battles, maybe, just maybe, we could save ourselves a couple extra pokeballs by wearing the wild Pokemon down first. I hear Niantic balking at the millions of dollars lost just thinking about that idea. But seriously, it’s incredibly frustrating when you pay for more pokeballs and then find you’ve thrown a big chunk of them away on one Pokemon, and it wasn’t worth the effort!
First, you’ve probably paid for pokeballs, let’s be honest. Niantic’s raked in billions, there’s no way you’ve survived and leveled up on pokestops and gyms all this time. But if you have, kudos. Second, you’ve probably experienced a day where you’ve caught a ‘simply amazing’ Pokemon with really high IVs using one or two pokeballs, and then gone on to use several pokeballs and several pieces of fruit to catch a weak Pokemon with low IVs. What gives? That weak Pokemon put up one Hell of a battle in total contradiction to its strengths, but the strongest Pokemon simply caved right in and let themselves be captured? It feels like a broken system, sometimes.
If Niantic let players use their buddy Pokemon or a party of Pokemon against every wild Pokemon, they may see more returning- and new- players joining in. And while they can still make the game challenging enough to eat away your pokeballs and, by extension, your hard-earned money, they could also at least make you feel like you’ve truly earned your catch and that your money spent wasn’t just going to waste for the sake of spending more. By battling wild Pokemon and dwindling down their health, it should give you a better chance at catching the Pokemon. But that shouldn’t be a given guarantee, and Niantic can still make you have to throw a few before finally gaining your new pet. And this system has been tested since the original games, where you would lead Red around to shops and buy more pokeballs while still going out and battling wild Pokemon and throwing several pokeballs before landing the big catch. Niantic would still make a hefty amount of coin.