Ah, Pokémon GO. The app released in early July 2016 and has had quite a darn wild ride ever since.
There are a couple of different schools of thought about the blockbuster app. Firstly, there are those who rode the hype train up to release, with images of roaming the real world and being the very best (like no-one ever was), only to quit in disgust shortly after launch. It was super shonky and glitchy back then, after all.
Then there are those who stubbornly stuck with the game, the overriding feelings of Poké-nostalgia making up for all manner of technical shortcomings. That’s me, incidentally. After all, early in GO’s life, I saw a huge tattooed guy with arms like Henry VIII’s Christmas hams shriek with girlish glee, because he’d found a rare Dratini. You can’t put a price on that sort of spectacle, friends, let me tell you.
The thing about that first group is, it’s never easy to be an early adopter. If a game, console or another piece of technology has issues early on, those issues are going to hit you right between the eyes. Once they have, even if they’re fixed somewhere along the line, it can be tough to jump back on board. To trust again. Remember how long it took to get back in the water after watching Jaws? It’s kind of like that, only with Xboxes with red rings instead of sharks with sharp, bitey teeth.
Regardless, though. While there’s a lot that can still be done, GO is not the same app it was back then. To illustrate that point, settle in for a rundown of things that people still get wrong about Pokémon GO.
30 It’s Much More Stable Now
There’s no doubt that the app suffered from an awful Grand Theft Auto Online-type issue on launch. Namely, the entire planet (and the whole bizarre, lumpen alien populations of Mercury and Venus) were trying to log in at once straight away, and the whole infrastructure collapsed. It was a soggy mess of bugs, glitches, and crashes, and it was 100% uncool.
Quite understandably, this turned many players off, but everything’s much smoother now. Not perfect, true enough, but no service like this ever will be. It’s a much less frustrating experience, from a technical standpoint.
29 The Tracking System Is (Arguably) Infinitely Better
At the heart of the whole thing, naturally, is the concept of being a real-life Pokémon trainer is the real-life real darn world of real-ly realness, through the sorcery that is AR.
Central to that is the ability to track Pokémon, to know which species are around you and exactly where they are. During the launch period, this was one of the major criticisms, as tracking was completely unreliable or simply didn’t work. If you’ve been out of the loop, you’ll be glad to know that this is no longer the case.
Niantic has implemented several different tracking mechanics, but the current one (essentially, which Pokémon are near this PokéStop) is simple and effective.
28 The Battles Are Not Just Mindless Mashing
Oh, yes. I hear you, friends, I definitely do. This one’s debatable for certain. As far as I’m concerned, though, there’s more to GO’s battles than meets the eye.
On the surface, yes, you just poke and poke and poke and poke at the screen like a demented finger-y woodpecker, as fast as you humanly can.
You’ll want to be careful with it, lest you aggravate any old Track and Field injuries you might have sustained back in the day. Nevertheless, you’ll also want to physically swipe to have your Pokémon move out of danger (defense is just as important as offense, when there are charge moves coming your way) and react on the fly with Pokémon switches to retain advantage. You know, just like the main games.
27 Sadly, No, You CANNOT Change Teams
Early in your Pokémon GO career, you’ll remember, you’re given the choice of joining one of three teams: Team Mystic, Team Valor or Team Instinct. You’ll want to give this some thought, of course, but you may not have realized just how much thought. This is freaking Sophie’s Choice right here, friends.
As of right now, Over two years later, there is still no way at all to change teams, other than by starting an entirely new account.
Something to bear in mind, if you’re just starting your GO journey (in which case, where in heckola have you been?).
26 Pidgey And Rattata Actually Have (Some) Use
Let me guess. Very early on, you nabbed a couple of Route One lame ‘mon to evolve for the Pokédex, then spent the next two years griping about how they’re still freaking everywhere? That’s the whole community, right there. If we were Eminem, we’d have written a whole album full of Pidgey and Rattata diss tracks.
The fact is, though, evolving these easy-to-find ‘mon with EXP boosters active is an excellent way to level grind early on. Not only that, but some of these otherwise-worthless Pokémon conceal Ditto, which was a canny move on Niantic’s part. Suddenly, they were desirable again.
25 Legendary Pokémon Aren’t Actually All That Tough To Catch
If there’s one thing that the Pokémon franchise is often lambasted for, it’s the irritating RNG associated with capturing legendary Pokémon. Generally speaking, they’ll happily bust out of dozens of balls before deigning to join you, even under optimum conditions.
While GO isn’t about to give you any freebies on that score, it certainly does make things a bit more manageable. With the fact that legendary Pokémon won’t flee from you, and the ever-convenient Golden Razz berries (which dramatically boost your chance to make a catch), it’s still difficult, but less frustrating. Well, in theory.
24 Legendaries Definitely Aren’t Guaranteed To Be Super-Strong
Often, players who are a little less well-versed in the Pokémon world tend to think that legendary Pokémon are some sort of insta-win ticket. You’ll see Battle Spot teams comprised of Kyogre, Groudon and the like, with their freshly-caught movesets and other shonky stuff going on.
It doesn’t work that way in the main games and it doesn’t here either. Once you’ve actually taken down that raid Pokémon, you’ll see its CP take a nosedive down to a more reasonable rate before you’re given the opportunity to catch it. The trouble is, it goes all the way down to 1500 or so.
23 Slaking Isn’t The Powerhouse You Might Think
As we saw in our countdown of the strongest Pokémon in the game by CP, Slaking currently rules the roost.
It can reach an absurd maximum CP of 4,548 as of right now, which is around 500 higher than Groudon and Kyogre (in joint second place, with a max of 4,074).
You’ve probably seen this thing in several gyms, taunting you and giving you the leisurely Poké-finger with its great power. It’s the strongest thing that can be left to defend gyms (more on that later) by a long shot, but there’s a caveat: its only Fast Attack is Yawn, which means it must charge its other move before dealing any real damage.
22 Egg Hatching Isn’t Quite As Much Of A Chore As You Might Think
As players will know, you can find eggs at PokéStops as well as items, and you hatch them by walking. As per the main games, they’re hatched by walking a certain distance, and that distance is shown in real-world kilometres on each egg.
There are four different varieties at the moment: 2km, 5km, 7km, and 10km eggs. The latter in particular can be daunting, What you may not know is that the in-game store offers Super Incubators, which will cut down that distance nicely. A 7km egg, for instance, becomes a 4.7km, which really saves time if you’re hatching several at once.
21 You CAN Catch ‘Em All… Eventually
Back in the height of late-90s Pokémania, there was no life achievement as impressive as catching them all. If you completed the Pokédex in Pokémon Red and Blue, you were the envy of the whole school. Of every school in the entire world. You were the ruler of everyone and everything; you wielded the power of Thanos with that fancy magical Michael Jackson glove of his.
Fast forward two decades, and there are almost 1000 different Pokémon. Catching them all has become an even more impossible feat. With the events and additions that Niantic are gradually trickling out, though, it looks like we will all have a chance to finish… if we’re determined enough.
20 You’re Not Actually Stuck With Those Questionable Moves
Another common GO criticism is that there’s even RNG in the moves that a particular Pokémon will have. You could capture a powerful monster, only to find that it’s got laughably useless moves. Even worse, you’ll find one that has the perfect Fast and Charge moves, only for them to be rerolled again and cycle right back round to bad.
Don’t worry, though, because Niantic have now added TMs. There’s a Fast TM and a Charge TM, which will allow you to reroll that particular move on a given Pokémon to something else. They’re very rare rewards, but they’re lifesavers.
19 Everyone Needs A Little Variety In Their Diet
If you’re an ardent gym defender (nobody shall take my grandma’s laundromat from Team Mystic! NOBODY!), you’ll know that it’s vital to keep your defending Pokémon’s CP up. their total diminishes over time, and as they battle, and you can replenish a little by feeding them berries.
The default selection for doing so is the Razz berry, which is also used to make wild Pokémon easier to catch.
If you’re running low on these, you might not want to use them in gyms, but you don’t actually have to. If you thought it was Razz or nothing, you’ll find that you can scroll through all your other berries too.
18 The Bloomin’ Berry Problem
Speaking of those series stalwarts, the berries, there’s another interesting thing you may not know. In your pursuit of wild Pokémon, you’ve surely noticed that you can use said Razz to make Pokémon easier to catch, or a Pinap berry to get double the candies after the catch.
What you can’t do, you may think, is get both effects at once. While that’s true most of the time, there are also rare berries that have more than one of these effects simultaneously. Keep an eye on your research task rewards for those.
17 It’s A Generational Thing
When GO was first released, of course, it was strictly generation one only. This probably did wonders for its momentum, bringing in the nostalgic legions who played way back in the day, but it was also super limiting. What if you were a more recent fan, who had favorites from later generations you feared you’d never see?
If you left the game early on, you may still be thinking that. Fret not, though, because while Niantic are taking their super-sweet time about it, they are bringing us more Pokémon.
16 Niantic Actually Do Care About Us After All
As I say, there’s no denying that the game was in a bit of a shonky state early in its run. The much-ballyhooed Pokémon GO Fest event was an unmitigated disaster, as we reported last July. The CEO of Niantic was furiously booed by the assembled ‘fans.’
A harsh lesson, for sure, but it’s one that the team really do seem to have learned. While they’re in no hurry to add various new features that have been sorely lacking, they have been gradually doing so. You’ve got to take your positives where you can in this world.
15 You’re Not Stuck With Awful Research Tasks (Most Of The Time)
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve not much of a mobile gamer. The ways of the deft touchscreen movement are definitely a little beyond me.
As such, when one of those ‘get three Great curveball throws in a row’ tasks pops up, I have mixed feelings about the whole situation.
There is a way to remedy that, though. If you get a task that’s time-consuming or difficult, you can delete it by hitting the tiny trash can icon on its panel. Hit up another PokéStop, and hopefully, you’ll find something that better suits you.
14 Dude, Where’s My PvP?
Another crucial aspect of being a real-life Pokémon trainer, of course, is having people to battle against. What kind of trainer are you, after all, if you don’t come barrelling straight over to anyone you lock eyes with and demand to fight them? No kind, that’s what kind.
After the social functionality was added back in June, Niantic stated that PvP battles are something that they’re working on for the next big update. This was back in August, and there’s no word yet, but it seems that it is coming.
13 Those Darn Special Edition Pikachu
At the time of writing, Halloween is fast approaching, and you know what that means: holiday-themed events and content out the wazzoo. Splatoon 2 is doing it, Overwatch is doing it, Destiny 2 is doing it… there’s spookiness right up in our grills at every turn.
I can totally understand why Pikachu with witch’s hats on would start appearing around now. Did you think Niantic were going to stop at Santa hats and such? Well, you were wrong, friends, because there have been endless different time-limited Pikachu like this.
12 Raichu Wants To Get In On That Hat-Wearing Action Too
I suppose it’s understandable. Pikachu is the mascot, after all, and the little guy always gets the best of everything. That’s just the way things are around here. There have been a whole string of event Pikachu since GO’s release.
Being rare and valuable, it follows that players would have been careful with theirs. Not wanting to evolve them, for instance. Interestingly, though, you’re totally fine to do so. In a neat little touch, any of these Pikachu that you evolve into a Raichu will keep their hats.
11 The Curious Case Of The Evolution Stones
Here’s an interesting thing you may have noticed. As later generation Pokémon have been added to the game, they’ve kept faithful to their original means of evolution. Porygon, for instance, is going to need an Upgrade to evolve into Porygon2, while Seadra will only become Kingdra if you have a Dragon Scale and the required candies.
The classic Fire Stone, Thunder Stone, and Water Stone, however, don’t exist in the game.
This means that original Pokémon like Growlithe, Vulpix and Exeggcute don’t need stones to evolve. If you’ve been out of the loop for some time, you won’t know that.
10 Special Research Goes On… And On And On
As I say, then, the available roster of GO just keeps increasing. We know that generation four is on the way, but it’s not just that. Legendary Pokémon are also available. Some time back, Niantic added special research tasks; an involved questline that would eventually unlock the Mythical Pokémon Mew.
Much later, generation two’s Celebi got its own Special quests. If you were worried that this would override Mew’s, there was no need to be. It was simply added next to it, and you can go right ahead progressing through both simultaneously.
9 When You’re Just Too Much Of A Legend For That Gym
Opinions are a little divided on the way that the game handles legendary Pokémon. You can battle them, capture them, slog your way through super-difficult Raids in order to get one, and you can battle with them.
What can’t you do? Leave them to defend gyms, that’s what. As such, they’re prized more for their rarity than their battle prowess. Think of them as valuable trophies to show off, the jewels of your collection, rather than burly CP-wielding machines. Leave that to Slaking, because, as I say, its indirect ‘nerf’ is hilarious.
8 They Said WALKING, Darn It!
At the heart of Pokémon GO is a wholesome intent to get us off our saggy cheeks and walking places. It’s worked, too. When the game was new, dogs all over the world had zero clue what in heckola was going on, as they were taken on longer walks than ever before. That’s still the case for many players (and many dogs).
When it comes to egg-hatching, though, there are just as many players who want to do things the easy way. If you’ve tried it, though, you’ll have noticed that the game is rarely fooled by you driving places.
7 There Is Still Hope For Nabbing Those Region Exclusives
As we all know, GO incorporates region-exclusive Pokémon. The likes of Tauros, Kangaskhan, Farfetch’d and Mr. Mime can only be found in their respective regions of the world. This would seem to mean that catching ‘em all is going to mean some expensive plane tickets.
Not necessarily, though. Just lately, 7km eggs have had a chance to hatch one of these otherwise-exclusive Pokémon in any region, and it’s not the first time one of them has been on offer worldwide.
It’s a long process, certainly, but Niantic hasn’t (quite) left us entirely out of luck on that one.
6 You Might Want To Hold Off On Evolving That Gyarados
Some Pokémon, as Michael Caine once said, just want to watch the world burn. Some Pokémon just want to charge you every darn candy in eighteen galaxies to evolve.
400? Dang it, Magikarp, what are you doing to us? This is just your petty revenge for all the Magi-crud jokes, isn’t it?
Be careful with this one, though. One of the objectives in Mew’s questline is to evolve a Gyarados, so you probably don’t want to do so until you’ve reached that point. Otherwise, you’ll have to start all over again with another for it to count.
5 It’s Time To T-T-T-TRADE!
Oh, yes indeedy-oh, friends. A few months ago, Niantic finally inserted a rocket into whichever orifice needed a jumpstart and brought us THAT update. The one that added functionality that really should have been in the title since the very start: trading and friend list functionality.
If you hopped off the bandwagon because GO offered no way to interact with friends, this is exactly what you’ve been waiting for. You CAN trade with friends, and you can… well, have friends in the first place. What a time to be alive.
4 Do NOT Underestimate Blissey
Seasoned Pokémon players will always know all about Blissey. This thing is the very definition of a special wall, with its humongous HP and Special Defense stats. Many special attackers simply have no hope of breaking through it.
In GO, meanwhile, it’s even more of a menace. You see lots of these puffballs defending gyms, and they’re just brutally effective at it. Whole it doesn’t deal much damage back, it just shrugs off hits like Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Terminator movies. You thought some legendary Pokémon or other would be the biggest threat? Oh, heck no.
3 Customizations Everywhere!
Oftentimes in mobile games, the whole avatar customization thing is made as big a deal as possible. It’s a handy-dandy use for all that in-game coinage, after all, and that potentially means more of those sweet, sweet microtransactions for the devs. Not that I’m cynical or anything.
Pokémon GO doesn’t really make much of a hoopla when new clothing options are added to the Style tab, so you may not really know about it.
There are all sorts of options in there, though, from Team Rocket outfits to a hilarious Magikarp hat.
2 There’s A Bigger CP Range Than You Might Think
CP (or Combat Power) is a new concept for GO, and a new way of categorising a Pokémon’s strength. As is often the case with mobile titles, it’s an easy at-a-glance system, that doesn’t require you to scroll through fiddly menus or have a degree in advanced nerdonomics just to understand how strong your Tyranitar is.
There’s more going on under the surface, though. It’s not simply that a Pokémon that cannot be powered up any further is the strongest that species could currently be (it can be, but not always). Each individual Pokémon’s CP numbers will differ a little.
1 We're All In This Togeeeether!
In the early days of Pokémon GO, I’d actually see crowds gathering around Safari Zones (crops of PokéStops altogether). People outside their gyms actively defending them from all comers. It was a magical time.
What did these big gatherings need? Raid battles. It’s a shame that they were added so late, when much of the original furvore had fizzled out. If you mostly play solo, those 40,000+ CP raids can be all kinds of daunting, but there are still dedicated groups. Try checking social media for a group in your town or area.