For one brief moment in time, Pokemon Go was a true cultural phenomenon. Unfortunately, it wasn't actually very good, with a host of technical glitches, battery issues and ham-fisted "improvements" significantly dampening people's enjoyment.
Despite this, approximately 65 million active users have never stopped playing. Last week, these players were rewarded for their loyalty with a huge new update. If you're keen to get back into the world of pocket monsters, here are the main improvements you need to know about.
Don't live near a gym? No worries: the new update transformed a bunch of Pokestop locations into new gyms, which means you now have more opportunity to access those all-important training posts. Gyms also now have six slots that can be filled by one team's Pokemon.
One of the most welcome additions to Pokemon Go is a new "motivation" stat that causes monsters to get weaker the longer they stay stationed at a gym. This helps to mitigate the problem of players guarding gyms against attacks with the same handful of tough Pokemon. Furthermore, if the monster's motivation hits zero, it is now automatically kicked out of the gym. (Motivation can be restored by feeding berries to each Pokemon at the gym in regular intervals.)
Motivation is also staggered against more powerful Pokemon - monsters over 3000 CP lose motivation quicker, which makes it more difficult for cheaters to hog gyms. The game also now restricts defending Pokemon to one type per gym to ensure players encounter more variety during battles. (Coolly, this has inspired players to create themed gyms instead of relying on the same boring lineup of monsters.)
Pokemon GO has also begun branding cheaters with a "Mark Of Shame". Explains the company:
Pokémon caught using third-party services that circumvent normal gameplay will appear marked with a slash in the inventory and may not behave as expected.
Sounds good to us!
Co-op raid battles
In addition to the above, Niantic has also added raid battles. During daylight hours, up to 20 players can now team up to take on ultra powerful 'legendaries' at gyms. Players that manage to take the Pokemon down are rewarded with new items not available elsewhere in the game. (Oh, and you get a chance to catch a mini version of the Pokemon you just fought, natch.)
Interestingly, some of the least popular Pokemon types are extremely proficient in raids, thus adding value and complexity to preexisting game elements. This helps to give your roster of monsters a fresh feel. Pretty smart, eh?
If your favourite part of Pokemon Go was hitting the streets with friends, these new features are definitely worth checking out. It's still not perfect, but some of the most glaring irritations have finally been addressed. Now all we need is player-vs-player battles!
Are you a Pokemon Go player? How are you finding the new update? Share your thoughts in the comments!