So, after a lengthy hiatus, what a better way to return than a piece on Pokemon Go, Niantic’s new game.
After what would seem a reasonable success to some, Niantic’s second game is unsurprisingly far more hyped than its little brother Ingress.
After an on again, off again relationship with Google, Niantic now stands alone again, having once been part of Googles wider family.
Ingress was rolled out in 2012 in beta form, invite only, with fairly few users, but a very active community. Having obtained an invite in 2013, I’ve had Ingress for a while, and whilst the concept and exclusivity factor made it pretty cool to dabble around in, it never gripped me quite like it has with some.
People now holiday together playing Ingress, specifically trying to capture portals based on real life locations, with large events organised by Niantic on a fairly regular basis.
After struggling to get on with Ingress, but seeing its huge potential, I am hugely excited for Pokemon Go.
Pokemon Go is a location based game, based on the Pokemon series which needs no introduction, with its multi-million game sales on the Gameboy, and DS, and is all about trying to catch as many Pokemon as you can, battling your way to the top !
The screenshots that have been revealed so far, show two different modes, AR & VR, both performing pretty well to engross the user in the overall experience.
Some early testers have complained about the Pokemon appearing to hover over the ground, not blending seamlessly into the background, but what can you expect in an early access beta ?
The game carries over some of the features we loved from the Gameboy games, battling opponents, challenging gyms, and collecting items from specific places (pokestops in the game).
The gym aspect is pretty cool, similar to a portal in Ingress, which can be defended by leaving a Pokemon of your choosing for opponents to battle, much like the resonator equivalent in Ingress. This brings it to life a whole lot more, and makes you think twice about which of your precious Pokemon you leave behind !!
It is also understood a great deal of the testing that has been carried out this year by beta testers has been around the algorithms which dictate which Pokemon appear where. These are thought to be reasonably intelligent, with water Pokemon appearing near the water, grass near patches of grass and such like ! This element will be particularly interesting, but sadly Australia may be a long way to go to capture a Kangaskhan!
It is understood that there will be an in game purchase capability in the app, unsurprising, but I hope that the game isn’t dictated by this, ruining it for anybody who doesn’t want to splash their cash on it. These purchases are thought to be for items such as pokeballs, potions, revives etc, all of which are thought to be able to be obtained via normal play via pokestops, so if you have a pokestop nearby.. you may be in luck ! The locations of these pokestops are also thought to follow a similar format to portals in ingress, being located at key locations in an area !
As well as in app purchases, there is a physical piece of hardware available for use with Pokemon Go, the Pokemon Go Plus. This is a small device that can be worn as a wrist band, or clipped onto a piece of clothing, the idea of this, is to prevent you having to be glued to your phone, thus being able to enjoy your natural environment when you want, whilst still being able to respond to crucial events in the game such as throwing a Pokeball. This was a bit of an issue for me with Niantic, not wanting to kill the phones battery, or walk down a busy street with your head in your phone!
The game its self, could be very poor, but will undoubtably get a tonne of support due to the underlying support of Pokemon.
The firm release date is still to be announced, but Niantic & Pokemon have said this will be in July 2016, with the Pokemon Go Plus pre-orders (Now sold out) being delivered in late July.
No doubt there will be a further update once the game has launched and my Pokemon Go Plus has been delivered, but for the time being, I’ll keep my eyes peeled until a launch date is officially released !