While I’ve been one to talk about Pokemon extremely frequently on this blog — I have a monthly post dedicated to the game at this point, after all — I’m not one to heavily talk about Pokemon Go. While I’ve played since its launch day in the US, I’m not one to do a lot of theorycrafting about the game. After all, you’re much more limited as to what you can do in Pokemon Go in comparison to other games in the series. There’s just not as much to possibly talk about. Combine that with the fact that there are bloggers like PokeTraveller Lola who do a fantastic job with this already and I feel like there’s not a ton for me to say on the matter.
That said, I did want to take a swing at suggesting some quality of life improvements I’d like to see in Pokemon Go and how they could be implemented. My ultimate goal with this post is not to get Niantic to change the game. Let’s face it, my 150 Twitter followers are barely enough to get me the occasional double digit liked tweet. What I would like to see come out of this though is discussion. While my ideas are just things I’d like to see, I’m sure they could be built off of and turned into great ideas.
I’ve decided to limit myself to five total ideas for this post, as well as to spread those ideas out so that no more than one idea is present per major game mechanic. I could have written a whole post based on improvements I’d like to see to the current raid system or friend-related activities, however I feel like that would come off as bashing those two aspects of the game1. That certainly isn’t my intent with this post. I do generally enjoy Pokemon Go even though I’m currently sitting at 1550 Murkrow wild/hatched encounters without a shiny2. I’m not bitter at all.
Friendship – Allow Remote Trading
The Idea: Allow trading between friends who aren’t in the same room.
How to Implement it: Ideally, this is a system where the better friends you are with someone, the further distance you can trade with them from. Good and Great friends might have very short distance limits like the current structure. However, Ultra friends could have a 1,000km trade distance limit, while Best friends could trade from anywhere on the globe. If there needs to be some sort of limitation for Ultra and Best friends, maybe there could be a one trade per day limit for trades where the friends are located more than a certain distance apart.
Why This Should Happen: I currently have six lucky friends on my friend list. Of those six friends, four of them are people who aren’t local to me in Northeast Ohio. One is in North Carolina, one is in Canada, one is in Spain, and one is in Australia. Many Go players have sought out friends online from other countries in an effort to get 7km eggs from far away places, only to end up with lucky friends they’ll never be able to trade with. This remedies that.
Why It Won’t Happen: Of all the items on this list, I feel like this is the most likely to happen in some capacity, even if it isn’t the exact why I’ve described it.
Gyms – Give Defense Bonuses to Themed Gyms
The Idea: The first trainer to place a Pokemon in a newly defeated gym sets a theme. If that theme is followed, the stats of the Pokemon defending it are buffed.
How to Implement it: Upon defeating a gym and dropping their Pokemon in, the first trainer to place a Pokemon in a gym gets to choose from one of three themes generated based on the Pokemon they pick. These would essentially be themes of escalating difficulty. Let’s say our first trainer puts Squirtle in the gym. A one-star theme would be simple to follow (Water types). If followed, this theme would give a small bonus (say 5%) to one stat (say Defense) of all Pokemon in the gym. A two-star theme would be a little more complex (Water- type starters), and would give a bigger bonus to a single stat (say 10% to Defense), with a smaller stat boost for other stats of the defenders. A three-star theme would have the most complex difficulty (blue Water type Kanto Pokemon), but would provide the biggest boosts.
Why This Should Happen: Let me tell you how boring it is fighting a gym with Chansey, Blissey, Slakoth, Snorlax, Metagross, and Dragonite for the ten thousandth time. I love seeing gyms with good variety. Did a group of people manage to create a gym with only first-stage Flying types? Awesome. You can bet that I’m not attacking that beautiful thing unless I have to.
Why It Won’t Happen: Considering how little attention has been given to this feature since the rework in 2017, I feel like Niantic might have forgotten gym battles exist.
Battling – Merge the Team Go Rocket and Team Leader Battle Concepts
The Idea: Take the Pokemon battle variety and strategy that the Go Rocket battles provide and move it out of the Pokestop setting — making Go Rocket a fourth team leader battle option.
How to Implement it: I like the Go Rocket battles. They’re one of the harder non-PvP battle options in the game without requiring the massive people investment of a big raid. But players in Pokestop-poor areas may have limited chances to battle team Go Rocket. So, at least for three battles a day3, move the Rocket grunts into the team leader screen and let players battle them from there. Keep the random type and Pokemon choices. Keep the shadow Pokemon reward concept the same. Just give those who don’t have access to Pokestops a chance to play this mode more frequently.
Why This Should Happen: After you’ve done ten or twenty Go Rocket battles, they become boring and tedious. Just like the team leader battles. At least make them like the team leader battles and allow me to do them from my couch rather than having to leave in the winter.
Why It Won’t Happen: Niantic is leaning HARD into the Go Rocket battles in game right now. They clearly think they’ve struck gold here. If anything, I could see team leaders getting moved out of their current implementation and out to gyms or Pokestops, making things even worse for rural players.
Raids – Introduce a Scaled Difficulty Raid System
The Idea: Make every raid beatable regardless of group size…just scale the difficulty based on the Pokemon you’re fighting.
How to Implement it: The current raid system has a suggested number of trainers that should fight each raid boss. Most tier 1 raids are easily soloable, while tier 5 raids range from 4-6 high level players to typically beat4. This requires coordinating with medium to large groups — which isn’t always practical aside from Community Day for people who can’t afford to spend their entire day playing Pokemon Go. Instead of this, make all raids where the stats of the Pokemon you’re battling are determined by the number of trainers in the raid lobby. From there, tier 1 raids would remain the easiest (and can be beaten with limited, underleveled Pokemon) all the way to tier 5, which will be difficulty to beat within the timer unless you have a fully optimized team.
Why This Should Happen: People have lives. I’ve done one tier 5 raid outside of Community Day in the last 3 months. It’s not worth the effort, especially for Pokemon that are largely just Pokedex fillers. Unless it’s a tier 1 to tier 3 raid, I straight up ignore raids at this point. For a feature that has such awesome potential, it might be the worst feature in the whole game.
Why It Won’t Happen: You know how Niantic does the weekly legendary raid hour? And how an significant percentage of the raid hatch pool is 5* raids? And how Darkrai is effectively the first 6* raid? If anything, Niantic is already going as far away from this suggestion as they possibly can.
Acquiring Pokemon – Thin the Current Spawn Pool
The Idea: Create a limited, rotating set of Pokemon that spawn at a given time in the wild.
How to Implement it: With the start of Generation 5 rolling out in Pokemon Go, there are 500+ Pokemon available in Pokemon Go. While some of these Pokemon can only be acquired through raids, there’s still several hundred possible Pokemon that can appear in the wild. My thought is to thin the pool out — similar to how current type-specific events have boosted spawn rates — and then remove all non-pool Pokemon from the spawns. You could keep a pool active for a month or so, then rotate to the next set of Pokemon. This could even be built within the current event structure5
Why This Should Happen: Gen V’s Pokemon release REALLY made the problem we have currently with a diluted spawn pool hit home for me. I live in a VERY Grass/Rock/Poison/Rock heavy biome (think Mt. Moon in Gen I). In the just over 1 month since Gen V was released in Pokemon Go and when I wrote this6, I’ve seen 6 Drilbur, 10 Foongus, and 2 Ferroseed. TWO. When half of the spawns I see on a daily basis are Bellsprout/Hoppip/Diglett/Cherrim. I get that some Pokemon are more common than others, but if you’re actively advertising that new Pokemon have been released, at least make them spawn frequently. That is to say nothing of the problems with the current egg pools…Gible….
Why It Won’t Happen: There nearly always seems to be an event running in Pokemon Go messing with the spawns. If we could get two weeks straight without an event, this might happen. That said, the last time that happened was….2016? I wish I could give an accurate timeline of this, but it certainly feels like there’s constantly been an event of some sort going on for at least two years straight now.