Pokémon Go is the game that 90s kids dreamt about since first exploring Kanto on Pokémon Red or Blue for the Game Boy. It essentially became the most highly anticipated mobile game of all time with the release of that first concept video back in September. Granted, no one is expecting it to look and play that well, but just the idea of seeing Pokémon (cast via augmented-reality on your phone) in the real world is enough to excite the inner child of anyone who grew up with the Pokémon.
And considering it's being developed by Niantic, the folks behind the successful augmented reality MMO Ingress, there's plenty to be excited about. Pokémon Go is currently being field-tested in Japan, with Niantic announcing it will soon be expanding the to New Zealand and Australia. Unfortunately, there is no official word on when the North American beta testing will begin. Those of us still waiting to get a taste of the gameplay have been left to scour for leaked information.
Niantic is doing everything in their power to quash beta testers from sharing too much information, but screens, videos and info continue to leak out. The Pokémon Go subreddit is a great resource for breaking news, rumours and discussion, with a thread dedicated to aggregating all the verified information. Brave beta testers have risked being banned to look through the game code to find exclusive details about the game.
Here are some details from the beta which should give us some idea of what to expect from the full game (or maybe a North American beta).
Just like Ingress, players will have to choose a team to join, with data-mining revealing three teams: Red, Blue and Yellow.
This has led to the (admittedly premature) creation of subreddits for each Pokémon Go team, so if you already know where your allegiances lie (Blue for life!), you can get in on the ground floor and join the super hardcore Pokémon fans representing their team colours.
Pokémon and Pokedex
According to data mining of the beta app, there will initially be 151 Pokémon available to be caught. That, of course, represents the first generation of Pokémon, from Bulbasaur all the way up to the legendary Mew. For hardcore Pokémon fans, that's not nearly enough considering there have been 721 species introduced throughout the different generations of the series, but keep in mind that this is data from the early beta, and it's safe to assume that number will grow to include the whole gang, likely as updates roll out after the official launch.
As you discover and catch new Pokémon, they will be added to your Pokédex. Yes, your iPhone will really come to feel like the ultimate Pokédex — and If you're the type to go all in on the full experience, Amazon has got you covered there.
PokéStops and Gyms
Another detail that's been verified is the inclusion of PokeStops and Gyms. Both will be linked to real-life landmarks in cities and towns with markers in the game. Think of the Time Square sequence from the trailer. PokéStops will likely feature helpful items such as Pokéballs, potions and battle items. Gyms are reported to act like Portals do in Ingress, with each team battling to control the gyms.
One of the ways you'll be able to gain new Pokémon in the game is by hatching eggs. You will reportedly be able to find eggs at or around PokéStops, and Niantic has confirmed that players hatch eggs by moving around in the real world to incubate, just as you have to move around in the handheld versions. So if fitness trackers have failed to get you up and moving, maybe the prospect of hatching a rare Pokémon will.
Lets face it: As fun as catching them all is, Pokémon is all about the battles. Unfortunately, little is currently know about the battle system, how similar it will be to the battle system found in Pokémon Stadium, or whether it will be as easy as meeting up with a friend in a field and throwing down in full AR glory. Expect more details on this to come out as the beta testing continues.
Eager to see the game in action?
It seems like every day, new footage from the beta is being uploaded to YouTube, only to be taken down just as fast. Here's a 13-minute video showing a few wild Pokémon — Rattata, Machop and Voltorb — being caught. It's not the AR-style gameplay that the trailers have promised, but it's the best we have for now. We can see how you collect items from PokéStops, and how they're marked onto real-life locations.
It appears there will be Pokéballs aplenty, as it looks like you might run through a bunch of them trying to catch wild Pokémon. While in-app purchases have been confirmed as well, here's hoping the game is balanced enough to let people go through the game finding free Pokéballs.
What do you think? Does this gameplay dampen the hype at all? Which team will you be joining? Let us know in the comments!
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