One objective that is very clear with the impending release of Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee is that Nintendo and The Pokémon Company really want to turn Pokémon Go players into Switch buyers. This might have have also had an unintended effect in that it also brought a lot of lapsed players back to Pokémon Go – and that’s not a bad thing for those players.
I didn’t expect much when I reopened Pokémon Go on my phone – which was still installed despite having a phone upgrade since my last time playing it. While I was at first caught up in the moment when Go first hit the scene, I quickly lost interest, as many people did. I took issue with the various bugs and conflicts that have been documented all over the internet before; primarily the loss of the ability to track nearby Pokémon and the use of third-party tools bringing the threat of a ban.
Yet, once I picked the game back up I found that the various additions Niantic has made to the game over time have proven to make for a significantly improved experience. With the introduction of two more generation’s worth of Pokémon to help populate the game, players are greeted with a lot more options to catch at any time while out and about. Performance is increased significantly. The newest and highly anticipated feature of adding Friends is a little bit complicated (because it’s online connected Nintendo) but allows for greater interaction. Gift giving even comes with postcards that can give context to noteworthy PokéStops. Raids, which were sub-optimal experiences at best, have a far more diverse range of difficulties to allow for smaller groups to get together and actually succeed without taking away the sense of accomplishment for actually taking down a legendary Pokémon. Tracking is even back, and functioning.
However, it is the quest-like Field Research feature that has found me ensuring I’m logging in daily. Field researches are special tasks obtained from PokéStops that bring with them all kinds of rewards. Sometimes, even special encounters with Pokémon can be had. Ongoing research tasks are also available to build to legendary Pokémon as rewards-including the mythical Mew, who otherwise has to be obtained by buying the PokéBall joy-con controller to get brought over to the Let’s Go games. Field research is also the backbone of Pokémon Go’s Community Days that center around a single Pokémon.
These goals give Pokémon Go something it desperately needed: objectives. Back when I first played the game, there was not much in the way of long-term gameplay. Outside of locking down gyms and wondering around catching random Pokémon, it was much easier to see the flaws and later lose interest. Now, there are not only reasons to make the daily log in for the game that app developers oh so hope for, but the goals to achieve and get rewarded with are completing. It lends itself to a fulfilling gameplay loop that is much more conductive to long-term play. There are still plenty of flaws-especially if you are in a more rural area. Many of these improvements still don’t help the game be playable for those series fans.
Even so, if you are in an area with a few PokéStops nearby, I would definitely recommend giving Go another shot. I don’t know if I’ll stick around when Let’s Go Pikachu comes out, but I don’t feel like I’m wasting my time.