The game that flubbed horribly on release has once again sunk its claws into me

While I just platinumed Horizon: Zero Dawn and have a lot to discuss (still considering if I should do a full review or not), I decided to sit down and write my thoughts on the recent changes and the hooks launched from Niantic to drag poor unsuspecting sods back into the walkathon known as Pokemon Go.

Almost a year ago today, the supposed global phenom was released to the world to about as much hype as one game could have when the hype train was set to maximum overdrive. Everybody was going nuts about what this game meant, based off a release trailer and some words from the developer. The fact that the Pokemon Company had put enough faith in a company other than Nintendo was enough to get a lot of people on board. Little did they know that the second they dropped the game, they dropped the damn ball. All the items in the trailer, co-op battles, trading, battling friends/enemies, and distance tracking. All promised, and all missing on release.

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Yeah sure, we got gyms, and some flawed distance tracking which was quickly removed, as was the support from community sites showing pokemon locations were banned, but that’s it. Nothing we were promised was in the initial release, not a fucking thing, which was a major letdown for those expecting great things from Niantic. Granted it became one of the most popular way to get exercise, one of the coolest reasons to get outside and socialize with people from your neighborhood. Old and young players alike began to make the Pokemon phenom just as big as it was in the 90’s, some who had followed from before, while bringing their children and our younger friends into the fold. It managed to get me to go to events in crowded parks just because it involved Pokemon, and I’m one of the most antisocial beings I know.

After a while, the craze died down and you’d see less and less people playing, to the point that many players were the ones who had something to prove (mostly to themselves). It wasn’t too long ago that I quit playing for real and only opened the app to do the 7 day streak for my wife, and just because I felt compelled, my own. I was all but clean of the drug known as Pokemon Go, and then everything changed once the Raid Battles came.

With A Simple Change, Everything Is Different (But Not)

When the Raid Battles were introduced, it changed how the gym system worked and opened a new avenue for catching certain Pokemon at higher levels and getting together with people to take them down. It brought one of the features that were supposed to be set for release, co-op battles making social interaction a higher priority when it comes to tackling some of the bigger raid bosses. As well as changing the Gym setup to make it a little easier on people looking to actually keep a leg up in gym battles, adding a berry mechanic to boosting morale for the pokemon stationed at your Gyms.

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The game made it interesting again, at least made me sit here and start planning stats of my pokemon to make sure I have the strongest of each type. I all but quit messing with CP and appraisal system, and let my evolution stats be what they will, that was until the update dropped just about a week ago. The introduction of Raid Boss Pokemon and the bonuses they offer (Golden Rasp Berries, Rare Candy, etc), has given me some pretty interesting incentives to keep my strongest guys on the field, as always prepping for the rumored Legendary Raids, the Three Legendary Birds or Mewtwo, which they teased in the trailer so long ago.

I’ve only participated in three raids, two solos and one group, and it hasn’t been all that bad. A group of 5 raided against a Rhydon at 4 stars, and we got close to winning when the time cut out. Which was kinda bullshit because we drained it’s health and then the timer, at 3 seconds, kicked us out saying time was up. Rather shitty but it was my first go, so it didn’t matter much. I was hooked after that, the other players telling me stories of ones they soloed and of the high lvl Pokemon they caught. I spent the next day restocking on healing items, I never used them before when I stopped Gym battles, I just needed space for my 600+ Pokeballs and the other assorted balls as well. I also spent that day searching out one and two star raids, only finding one close by, just to test my strongest guys. Turns out I won easily but I couldn’t manage to catch the Quilava with the special pokeballs after winning. This past weekend I ran through another 2 star Raid on a Muk, and managed to thrash it and catch it.

The kicker of the whole update was that nothing else was affected. Gyms received the only update, an aesthetic change (which looks badass) and them hosting the Raid Battles within them. Everything else stayed the same. Maybe the capture rates on some Pokemon changed, but that’s hard for me to really say because I only tried to catch what I didn’t already have registered or I didn’t have the evolve form of. Looking at the game as a whole, you can’t really tell the difference between pre-update to post-update, at least on any truly substantial level, and yet people like me have probably come in droves back to the Pokemon Trainer Simulator.

It’s a bit sad to say I have become a more avid player since the update, but it’d true. Powering up Pokemon, trying to get stronger evolutions, checking appraisal stats, and placing guys back in Gyms, all this has become a regular thing for me again and all because I want park next to some stranger in a parking lot and possibly not talk. But hey, we might catch a Charizard if there is enough of us. For now, I am suckered back in, yet this may give way to another wave of clarity before walking away completely. Or the Legendaries will get announced and I’ll be all to excited.

It really is a toss up at this point.

-ProdigiousJ

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