In 2016, the augmented-reality app “Pokémon Go” brought millions of people from all over the world one step closer to living out their dreams as Pokémon masters. Everywhere you looked, people of all ages were clustered together, busy catching a rare Pokémon or fighting in gym battles.
Players swamped Pokéstops — otherwise known as real-life businesses — to replenish their potions and Pokéballs, but the frenzy that the app cast over its users turned out to be fleeting.
Within two months, persistent technical crashes and the glaring absence of new features turned away both fans and newbies. Just as quickly as it had arrived, the fad called “Pokémon Go” disappeared off the map.
There is good news, though: “Pokémon Go” is still alive and thriving after its premature release. If the upcoming “Detective Pikachu” is any indication, people still care about the franchise that has shaped millions of childhoods for over 20 years. While you may have given up on the app a long time ago, these seven exciting, new features will convince you to once again catch ’em all.
1. Generations of New Pokémon
The experience of playing “Pokémon Go” in 2016 amounted to throwing yet another Pokeball at a Zubat or Rattata, two Pokémon that annoyingly spawned everywhere. As you’re probably aware, this dulled the gaming experience for many players.
In the three years that have passed, however, Niantic has added a slew of Pokémon from different generations with each update, including legendaries. When the Pokémon available start to grow stale, the app releases a fresh batch for you to catch. Pokémon from regions such as Johto, Hoenn and Sinnoh have been added to the Pokédex, and with a whopping 809 different species of Pokémon right now, the app isn’t in danger of running out of new Pokémon anytime soon.
The popularity of the “Pokémon” franchise has always stemmed from its community of fans, a crucial aspect sorely missing in the free-to-play app. Niantic would later fix the issue with an update that allowed players to befriend one another in the game.
If players wish to be friends, all they need to do is swap trainer codes and accept each other’s friend request, whereupon stats such as battles won, walking distance and Pokémon caught are shared. Other updates have allowed players to send useful items to each other, battle one-on-one to test each other’s worth as a trainer and, most importantly, trade.
From “Pokémon” cards to the video game series, trading Pokémon has always been a staple of the franchise, and the mobile app now lets you trade with friends who are physically nearby at the cost of stardust, which fluctuates depending on the rarity of the Pokémon in question.
A great thing about the trading feature is how it rewards players who trade with one another on a regular basis. The more you interact with a player, the more you increase your friendship level and the less stardust you have to sacrifice during trades. Adding the highly anticipated feature has only boosted the appeal of “Pokémon Go,” making it even better resemble the franchise fans know and love.
4. Raid Battles
You might remember the “Pokémon Go” gym battles from 2016 and all that they entailed; raid battles take that concept one step further and allow you to team up with other players to take down boss Pokémon.
“Pokémon” legendaries like Kyogre and Cresselia require interaction with other players in your area, and they can drop rare, collectable items when you fight them.
5. Special Events
The developers of Niantic are constantly coming up with more exciting features to enrich the experience of players, with special events continually changing the otherwise static nature of the game.
When you click on the news tab in “Pokémon Go,” it gives you a preview of special events coming up, such as the spawning of Pokémon with unique abilities or outfits. In the past, Niantic has offered players the chance to catch Pikachu wearing a Christmas hat, a party hat, a witch’s hat and even Ash Ketchum’s signature hat. Some special events have also manipulated players’ nostalgia: Who could miss out on capturing a Squirtle sporting sunglasses?
6. Pokémon Buddy
A fun feature that separated “Pokémon HeartGold” and “Pokémon Soulsilver” from the other video games in the franchise, and really makes “Pokémon Go” special, is walking Pokémon. The task of animating walking features for all current Pokémon would be a time-consuming venture, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that developers discontinued the minor yet adorable feature in their games.
Similar to those walking Pokémon, Niantic now allows players to choose a Pokémon buddy to walk and collect candies. Each buddy comes with its own original animation and encourages players to walk more to earn candy for Pokémon that don’t spawn often. While the buddies don’t actually walk on the Pokémon map, it adds a nice personal touch.
7. Daily Research
Professor Willow still appears at the beginning of the game and gives players Pokéballs, but his role has expanded. As another incentive to log in every day, Professor Willow assigns players field research goals, ranging from battling in a gym to catching Pokémon of a specific type.
You receive a stamp for every goal completed, and once you’ve collected seven stamps, you unlock a research breakthrough that rewards you with plenty of stardust, mystery items and the appearance of rare Pokémon.
“Pokémon Go” has come a long way from its less-than-stellar beginnings, learning from its failures and adding updates that ensure players stick around for more. There are other useful features not mentioned on the list, but hopefully these seven major points will be enough to convince you to give the app another chance.
The mobile game will only improve more with future updates, which is why now is the perfect time to get back in the “Pokémon” franchise.