By: Michael Savich
Last summer Pokémon GO launched on iOS and Android, kicking off a global cicada-like phenomenon that had people across the globe emerging from their nests to play outside. That month passed like a strange dream, to the point that I’m still debating whether it actually happened. Almost a year has passed since then, and Pokemon GO is getting its first major content update. (Well, unless you count the launch of the Apple Watch companion app)
Can it recapture last summer’s magic? Well, no, probably not. It’s cold outside. I mean, let’s be reasonable.
But, it doesn’t need to reach those heights. Contrary to the slew of “Pokémon GO is dead” hot takes that have been posted over the past few months, Pokémon GO is still an incredibly popular and profitable game. To the degree that its popularity has declined, this update is set to be the shot in the arm the game needs.
Upon launching the app you’ll likely recognize some new yet familiar faces, from Sentret to Spinarak, along with all the other (non-legendary) monsters from the heady days of the Game Boy Color era. Additionally, there are two new types of berries, the nanab berry which slows down Pokémon “attacks” (those poké-ball deflecting animations) and the in-app berry, which doubles the candy payout for a particular catch. Also added are buttons allowing you to quickly swap and use different berries and poké-balls, making the process slightly less infuriating than before. New nighttime music has been added, likely included in this update, as a nod to the day/night cycle introduced in Gold and Silver.
In summary, this is a large, if somewhat straightforward content update. If anything, this update is more notable for what it is missing– promised new features like Pokemon trading, player-vs-player battles, and Pokemon Centers remain missing. Perhaps Niantic is saving them for the summer, when they have another chance of convincing the masses to venture outside once again. As it stands now though, this new update is a whole new place for Pokemon GO– but not a brand new attitude.