Pokémon GO is in a strange place right now. The game is in the midst of releasing an endless parade of legendaries, first Legendary Birds, now Legendary Beasts and soon the one Legendary to rule them all, Mewtwo, yet it’s hard to feel like the game is anything but stuck in a rut in a number of ways.
First off, Pokémon GO has done away with one of its primary motivating factors to get players out playing again, global special events. The last major event like this was Fire and Ice in June, which saw increased bonuses and special spawns of fire and ice type Pokémon. In the wake of Pokémon GO Fest in Chicago in July, there were also a number of in-game bonuses in addition to the first two Legendaries launching, but since then? Nothing like that.
All events since have been local, specific to Europe or Japan in one of Niantic’s special “celebrations” that only affects a specific region. While that was nice for a few million players in a specific spot, the other 98% of the playerbase got no bonuses, saw no special spawns.
Despite the prevalence of raids across the game, I’m pretty stunned that there have been no special global events in ages, not with special spawns, and not even with raid bonuses, like giving players a bonus daily raid pass, or rotating in different lower tier bosses, or doubling player damage against bosses for a weekend. Things like that. It’s just been regular raids and then when Legendaries came along, harder raids with the exact same mechanics. That’s it.
The game has introduced no mechanical changes to the game since the gym rework and introduction of raids. Raids mechanics have stayed exactly the same, even through the release of legendaries, and fundamentally, there has not really even been a point in amassing Legendaries other than to use them to…catch more Legendaries. It’s an endless loop.
As I’ve said before, raids have made all other activities in the games suffer. Wild catches, egg hatching, and the buddy system all are borderline pointless in the face of raids, but Niantic’s solution was not to buff these other parts of the game, but to nerf raids to make it so that sometimes you will only get potions and revives for beating a tough boss, which has made the one remaining appealing part of the game even less appealing.
I don’t think Mewtwo is what this game needs right now. This isn’t a rant about exclusive raid passes or anything like that (though that system still feels unnecessary to me), but rather Mewtwo is just another symptom of this problem. He arrives, he’s harder to fight and harder to catch and harder to even fight in the first place with the exclusive system, but then you catch him and what? Use him to fight the next Mewtwo?
Pokémon GO is a game without actually…being a game, if that makes sense. It lacks clear objectives and goals other than “collect X thing to collect more of X thing.” That can work for many loot-based games, but it’s even more simplistic here, and a far cry from the original handheld titles which had clear paths to completing your Pokedex (not waiting for regionals to rotate to your area for 15 months) and clear goals to accomplish (beating all the gym leaders/Elite Four/your rival/Team Rocket). GO has neither NPCs to beat nor a robust PvP system, neither of which would really even be all that enjoyable until serious changes are made to the overly simplistic battling system in the game.
My point is that with a focus on raids and raids alone this past month, and with global events being limited to specific areas around the world, not the entire world, Pokémon GO has felt especially dull as of late. Gen 3 is on the horizon, and that may solve some of the problems I’m talking about again as catching wild Pokémon and hatching eggs will again be useful to some extent once again, but the game has larger, deeper problems it needs to address, and I don’t think this endless rollout of Legendaries is doing that at all, despite the initial excitement.
I’ve played Pokémon GO for well over a year now, the longest I’ve stuck with any mobile game, but my interest is starting to wane, and I don’t think I’m alone.