Pokémon Go, huh? Pokémon-freaking-Go. Where do you start with this one? Niantic’s app was the biggest thing to hit iOS and Android last year; a pop culture phenomenon that left even the likes of Angry Birds and Flappy Bird feeling unappreciated and unloved in its wake.
The hype for Go was almost indescribable. Like Grand Theft Auto Online, the game had garnered such support and excitement in the run-up to release that… well, the disaster that was the early days of Pokémon Go is well documented. There were bugs and glitches everywhere, and the devs are still playing catch up with a series of updates to resolve the various issues.
A good deal of that initial hype has abated now, true enough, but there’s still a dedicated band of Go-aholics supporting the title and enjoying the new content as it gradually trickles in. If you’re a member of this merry band, you’ll be happy to see that the latest update is rolling out now, and it’s the biggest ever. Let’s take a look.
Biggest news first. Frequent players will have noticed that the game’s gyms have been removed for a week or so now. This is because they’ve been ‘under construction,’ so to speak, as update 1.37.1 (or 0.67.1 for Android) has completely revamped gym battles. For one thing, you can now ‘spin’ gyms as you can Pokéstops, for item-collection purposes. Those series stalwarts, gym badges, have also been added.
Most significantly, for long-time players, this new Pokémon Go update introduces Raid Battles, a new co-operative take on hunting down and defeating those pesky rival Pokémon. For a more in-depth look at everything Niantic are implementing here, check out Nintendo Life’s round-up of the patch notes:
- Gym features significantly updated to add the all-new motivation system.
- Added new Gym Badge feature.
- Added in-app and push notification system for Gyms.
- Added Raid Battles, a new cooperative gameplay experience.
- Added four new items available only by completing Raid Battles.
- Added Raids tab to Nearby screen.
- Added search functionality to Pokémon collection screen.
- Added visual indicator to unvisited PokéStops.
All in all, it’s quite a sizeable addition to the Go experience. The game has previously drawn criticism for its gym system, and it’s great to see this aspect being overhauled at long last. Niantic do have a tendency to add fairly superfluous content and lose sight of the big picture, such as introducing the buddy system (which allows players to walk with a favorite Pokémon and –very slowly-- gather their candies as you go) while the fundamentals of the game weren’t really working, but it’s nice to see them working on something that the community have actually asked for.