Pokémon Go’s creator Niantic is updating the social game for a world locked down over COVID-19, and that includes completely redoing the way that Go Raid Battles work. The Raid Battles were a feature added to the game in 2017’s big Gym Rework. Now widely available, Raids have trainers in a local area meet up and work together to defeat especially powerful Pokémon called Raid Bosses for special rewards and more.
Pokémon Go’s initial attraction was combining augmented reality game play with exploration of the outdoors, on a kid-friendly scale that had players scouring local parks and streets. The free-to-play, mobile friendly game awarded explorers by helping them find and capture a variety of Pokémon, and enabled lots of social communication regarding the best spots to find rare Pokémon, or team-ups like the Raid Battles. The system also enabled creators to put resources at local landmarks, works of art, monuments, and so on. It was effective at getting players outdoors and moving – at least until coronavirus lockdowns started keeping Pokemon Go players at home.
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Now Niantic has announced a new approach to playing Pokémon Go that will also allow for social distancing and staying at home. The comprehensive plan will include the ability to play Go Battle League at home, thanks to Niantic reducing the walking requirements for the league to zero. The company will also be releasing a new version of Raid Battles that you can participate in at home while still teaming up with friends, as well as digital ways to experience the live event Pokémon Go Fest. The Pokeball shortage has also been fixed.
These at-home versions of social Pokémon Go events are just part of Niantic’s larger plans for dealing with COVID-19 while still encouraging exercise and play. These plans include updates to Adventure Sync to make it easier to measure indoor activities like cleaning or using a treadmill, as well as plans to “virtually” visit some of their favorite locations and share memories with others while waiting for society to get mobile again.
While gaming as a whole may be benefiting from the bans and at-home requirements during COVID-19, it’s been challenging on “real world” games such as Pokémon Go. Niantic’s swift solution is impressive under the circumstances and seems directly related to increases in revenue for March, although some details do remain unknown – players will have to wait to learn when exactly the Raid Battle changes will go into effect. But even if working around the house isn’t the same as scouring the neighborhood for Pokémon, it’s still impressive to see so many changes planned for the app, all designed specifically for this period of time.
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