While Pokémon GO is no longer the world-enrapturing mega-hit that everyone and their great grandmother are talking about, it’s still a widely popular mobile game that enjoys a large number of active players… and we are part of that group. Pokémon GO is a great way to spice up a walk or occupy your self during a lull at work, but there’s always been something missing from the experience. Well, not just something, but a lot of things. Despite our love for the game, we’re not afraid to admit it’s flawed.
Some of the complaints are simple, like the grind-heavy progression, or the clunky menus, while others are harder to keep out of mind, like the lingering sense or purposelessness due to a barren endgame. Despite the presence of these nagging foibles, we don’t dwell on them, instead opting to ignore them and have fun with the game for what it is. But, then again, it might be worth it to talk about these issues that we’re often overlooking.
With this list of 25 Things Wrong With Pokémon GO We All Choose To Ignore, we’re aiming at explaining the areas where Niantic has fallen short, even if we totally understand the reasons that many of these issues are the way they are. Still, it would be nice to see at least some alterations be made to relieve a few of these missteps. As we said, we still play Pokémon GO and enjoy it for what it is, but there’s always room for improvement, even if we do our best to ignore the problems entirely.
25 The Non-Traditional Battling System
It’s not surprising that Pokémon’s tried-and-true battle system was taken apart for its mobile endeavor, but it’s still a disappointment. Tapping your finger or thumb until you have repetitive stress injuries just isn’t that exciting, and neither is attempting to use the clunky dodge mechanic that only registers your movement an eighth of the time.
The current battling system makes combat seem like more of a chore than a tactical, visceral experience like that of the main games, and it’s likely never going to change, so it is what it is.
24 The Stardust Concept
Stardust is more-or-less a form of currency in Pokémon GO, and it’s used for powering up your team, trading, and evolution.
The problem with stardust is that it’s just so… out of left field.
We understand why a system like this was implemented, but it was jarring to log into the game for the first time, expecting something relatively familiar in terms of traditional Pokémon mechanics, only to have things like stardust and candy thrust upon us. To be fair, we’ve gotten used to it, but there will always be a lingering wound.
23 Overly Difficult Skill-Based Challenges
It was a great idea to implement the daily challenges and multiple objectives for special activities, but some of them are far too demanding for the type of controls and gameplay offered in the app.
Making something like ten excellent curveball throws in a row is a staggering proposition, particularly when you’ll need to master the touchy skill of tossing a curveball (good luck with that), timing it precisely while tossing, and also dealing with the barely manageable flinching of your target. While some of these challenges are reasonable on paper, in execution they’re preposterous.
22 The Major Grind
There has always been a measure of grinding in the Pokémon series, even up through the latest entries, but Pokémon GO gives it a whole new meaning.
Instead of leveling up through battling, you’ll need to hoard stardust and Pokémon-specific candy in order to power-up your pocket monsters or evolve them. Those items can only be gained through compulsive and repeated catching, and for quite a few evolutions, you’re going to need A LOT of both resources.
It hurts so much, but we do it for Gyarados.
21 A Persistent Myriad Of Connection Foibles
This particular issue has plagued Pokémon GO from the start, and while it’s been immensely ironed out, there are still plenty of errors that pop up at the most inconvenient of times.
For example, you’ve just wasted twenty berries and twenty Ultra Balls on some maximum-level Bulbasaur, but right when the final ball sucks in the critter, and it stops wriggling about, the game just freezes. After what feels like an eternity goes by, the game takes a hard cut to the main screen and the malevolent “error” message appears up top. Fun!
20 Underwhelming Region-Specific Pokémon
We love the idea that certain specific Pokémon can only be found in certain parts of the world. That said, we feel that Niantic could have gone much farther with the concept (though we understand why they didn’t).
For example, it would have been awesome to see Bug or Grass-types exclusively in forests, or Ghost-types in graveyards.
Sure, there would be an inherent danger for unintelligent people risking life and limb to get a digital critter, so we understand why it’s not part of the game, but we can’t help but yearn for it, regardless.
19 The Still-Serious Battery Drain
When Pokémon GO exploded onto the scene and took the world by storm, it was truly a thing of beauty. For once, we saw that there really are a lot of fun, good people in the world, and all the Pokélove even boosted the economy.
There was one problem, though: batteries being drained at an exponential rate.
This issue was so widespread that third-party companies offered Pokémon-styled battery-pack phone covers. While it seems that the battery drain has decreased, it’s still a problem, and we hope that Niantic can find a way to help the game run even more efficiently.
18 It Doesn't Feel Like "The Pokémon World"
One of the most intriguing elements of the Pokémon franchise is the exciting and mysterious world in which it takes place.
Whether it was the anime or the first games, something about this world just sucked players in.
Pokémon GO is successful in bonding our world with the Pokémon concept, but it never really feels that we’re part of the Pokéverse, no matter how hard the writing tries. And this might be nitpicking, but the character designs for the NPCs feel far less "Pokémon," and more pseudo-anime than they probably should.
17 Clunky UI Issues
While the core gameplay of Pokémon GO is predominantly catching Pokémon, there is a considerable amount of time spent in menus. Whether it’s for powering up Pokémon, healing wounded warriors, discarding items, or transferring thirty Pidgeys, you’ll be staring at a menu for quite some time.
Because of that, it’s a shame that the menus, and general UI, are unacceptably clunky.
The worst offender is when you’re simply trying to scroll through your extensive list of Pokémon, and you end up going “too far” with your finger (by the game’s definition) and you end up closing the list.
16 A Proliferation Of Event Pokémon
“Are you sure you want to transfer this Event Pokémon?”
Uh… yes. While it’s already a pain to put up with the fact that a Santa-hat wearing Pikachu is ridiculously difficult to catch (especially with no real reward for the effort), it’s even more of a pain to have to go through the above prompt when you need to clear up your storage.
In short, the Event Pokémon are so common, that it almost feels like an annoyance to see them.
We hope they’ll be more scarce in the future, making the arduous task of catching one actually worth it.
15 Cheesy Models And Animations
We want to preface this by saying that the Pokémon in the game look good.
They’re not underwhelming or awfully rendered or anything like that… but there is a lot of room for improvement.
Apparently, the models themselves were ripped from their respective games, minus their cartoony-outlines, and that’s fine for cost-cutting, but there’s something that just looks weird about them. Couple that with the canned, Pokémon Stadium-style animations, and they end up looking more like toys than living beings.
14 Not Enough Classic Items
Sure, we’ve got the Poké Balls and Potions, among others, but with so much focus on stardust and candy, we can’t help but feel like there are some classic items we’re still missing.
It’d be cool if there were an equipment system, where we could give our Pokémon a healing item for use in battle.
Heck, we wouldn’t even mind a take on the Itemfinder, where instead of finding hidden items (when you were actually allowed to it), it would increase the range of your ability to swipe PokeStops, so you could hit a whole gaggle of them at once.
13 Bots And Alternate Accounts
It seems that no matter what game you play, if there’s an online multiplayer component, someone has found a way to ruin the fun. In Pokémon GO’s case, specifically, there is a proliferation of bots and alternate accounts that make both basic Gym-battling and the high-level meta-game a real pain in the behind.
Niantic is likely doing the best they can when it comes to tracking down and eliminating malevolent accounts, but this is a problem that is simply too big to tackle or excise permanently.
12 Backbreaking Evolutions
We’ve already mentioned the severity of the grind in Pokémon GO, with players forced to capture sometimes hundreds of the same Pokémon in order to acquire enough stardust and candy to evolve a favorite monster.
Niantic tried to remove some of the grinding strain by implementing the Buddy System, but even that yields very little reward for the effort put in, sometimes rewarding a single candy for 5 km of travel. When you’re trying to get a Gyarados or evolve your Swablu, you’re looking at 400 candies to trigger the evolution. That’s a high number… maybe a little too high.
11 Over-Reliance On RNG
There’s a whole slice of competitive Pokémon players who baffle casual fans by number-crunching and talking about EVs and who knows what else, but there’s still an element of RNG in all the games, even if players have mastered many of the ways to deal with it.
Pokémon GO, on the other hand, seems to use RNG almost arbitrarily.
There’s no real way to gauge the expected strength of the creatures you find on your journey, and there’s no real way to get the item you desperately need from a Poké Stop.
10 An Overall Lack Of Depth
We’ve already lamented the loss of a traditional battle system and typical experience of powering-up your crew, but it all kind of boils down to an overall lack of depth that has plagued Pokémon GO since day one, and continues to do so despite the many excellent additions the team has made.
We totally get that Pokémon GO is for everyone, and not necessarily seasoned Pokémon players, but still.
Even battles just come down to using your strongest team, and the computer usually does a great job of picking them for you, meaning you don’t even have to properly strategize.
9 The Uselessness Of Legendary Pokémon
Legendary Pokémon are extremely difficult to acquire. You either need to do battle in an intense raid or complete complicated (and grindy) research tasks, not to mention blowing the majority of your Ultra Ball and berry arsenals to catch the darned things.
While it’s certainly cool to say you’ve got Suicune or Mewtwo, they often have a paltry CP that’s hard to level up due to their rarity, causing a lack of candy. Worst of all, you can’t even leave them behind in Gyms.
8 Enormous Advantages For Players In Cities
Players who live in cities find themselves at an immense advantage over the peons who live in the suburbs or rural areas (which we’ll get more into in a little bit), with seemingly endless amounts of Pokéstops and Gyms at all angles.
What’s this? A Mewtwo raid is starting? No worries, there’s already a huge group of people ready to fight.
In short, city players are stocked with powerful items and high-level Pokémon and heck of a lot of hard-earned premium currency.
7 Poor Gameplay In Rural Areas
Conversely, players who don't live in a city find themselves at a significant disadvantage. Usually plagued with a lack of PokéStops and Gyms, rural and suburb players often deal with a severe shortage of necessary supplies.
Fewer supplies equals fewer candies equals weaker Pokémon.
Speaking of Pokémon, there’s also a significant lack of variety and spawning in areas that aren’t covered with Gyms and PokéStops. While this problem was once far worse, it’s still something that can put remote Pokéfans at a dangerous disadvantage.
6 Limited Movesets
Every last creature in Pokémon GO has a quick attack and a charged heavy attack. That’s it.
Even Pokémon Red and Blue had four moves maximum per monster.
While this certainly goes back to the simplified battle mechanics of the Pokémon GO, it would still be nice for players to maybe have an option of choosing what their quick attack and heavy attacks were from a pool of moves, rather than relying on TMs and the random moves they assign you. It’s just so deflating to know how few options you, as a trainer, have.
5 The Massive Balance Updates That Throw Your Team For A Loop
Since Pokémon GO is a massive multiplayer undertaking, it’s no surprise that Niantic is always on the lookout for balancing issues that have tremendous effects on the Gym-battling, territory-grabbing scene. We applaud Niantic for finding and addressing the problems, but occasionally these updates cause a whirlwind of bad side effects.
One day you’ll log on, and see that the majority of your Pokémon suddenly have half HP due to a universal rebalance.
Other times, you’ll pour your hard earned stardust and candy into one strong Pokémon, only to find out they’ve been nerfed into oblivion. It’s kind of a pain.
4 Badges No One Wants
One of Pokémon’s most iconic elements is the earning of badges from Gym Leaders.
Pokémon GO also has badges, but just not the kind we care about.
You’ll earn them for doing certain tasks like catching 100 Bug-types, but where are the badges worth bragging about? Perhaps there could be a system where players who have the top record at a Gym can design their own badge and dole it out to those who finally topple them.
If that’s too much, though, we’d gladly take a hyper-difficult Pokémon League challenge against CPUs who will give out badges as rewards.
3 A Weak Endgame
So you’ve caught all the Pokémon and reached the max level. Now what? That’s the question that’s plagued countless players who have achieved the major goals of any Pokémon game, and there’s no real answer.
Aside from trainer battles, there’s really nothing in the end game.
A possible solution would be to incorporate a system like Niantic’s previous game, Ingress, where specific factions visibly controlled areas of the world map. This would give high-level players something to do, and also refuel the idiotic Mystic, Instinct, and Valor wars, actually giving them something worth fighting about.
2 No Real RPG Elements
Pokémon games, at their core, are JRPGs, and it’s unfortunate that Pokémon GO has more-or-less eliminated or repurposed those telltale concepts. Leveling up isn’t done through experience from battles, but rather through assigning resources, and the battles are no longer turn-based tactical affairs.
We’re just beating a deceased horse now, and we totally get why these elements were removed or slimmed down for Pokémon GO, but come on… no traditional leveling!? If even some minor semblance of it could be added, it would bring a major amount of sorely-lacking depth.
1 Underwhelming AR
It was no surprise that seeing digital Pokémon realistically battling in the real world through augmented reality in Pokémon GO’s trailer wasn’t going to be in the final game.
We’re not here to complain about that, though. Instead, we just want to point out that the AR that does exist is underwhelming.
Taking pictures of your Pokéfriends at your desk is cute, but that’s about it. In fact, we’d wager that most people who still play the game have long-since turned off AR during encounters. There’s a lot of room for improvement, but we’re just not sure what.