A first look at Pokémon Go

Today Niantic posted a blog about the status of Pokémon Go. This was probably in response to the video from SXSW, since the video got about 1.1 million views in 48 hours.

An overview of the map, including nearby pokemon Trainer view, including gyms and pokemon in the background Interacting with Squirttle

Confirming a few things we already suspected, Niantic explains that players of GO will have to physically move around their city in order to trigger key events. Certain wild Pokémon will only appear in their native environments. We can see from the above image that the Water type Pokémon, Squirtle, is appearing close to a city harbor.

An Egg mechanic has been confirmed, in which a certain amount of steps will presumably be needed in order to hatch a new Pokémon. As in the earlier games, it is likely that some Pokémon may only be acquired this way.

Niantic confirmed that key locations focused around notable monuments (public art, historical sites, etc) will drive the player’s adventures. These locations will be considered PokéStops, where players can receive equipment and special items, as well as Gyms.

Pokémon Gyms will be the focus of the battle system. Players will join one of three teams and compete to control Gyms alongside their allies. Gyms may be defended by leaving captured Pokémon there, where an AI will presumably defend the location. Gyms may be challenged by wandering players, and if all of the defending Pokémon are defeated, the winning player may capture the Gym for their team.

So who are the three teams? How are Gym locations decided? Stay tuned to find out more shortly after the upcoming Beta test in Japan launches.


Update 1

Information has been released on the official Pokémon Website which reiterates and expands on Niantic’s blog post from this morning.

Pokémon Company confirms that eggs will hatch after a certain distance is traveled, and may reveal “certain Pokémon you have never seen before”.

Pokémon Company also elaborates on capturing and discovering new Pokémon. A notification will notify players when a wild Pokémon is near, where a camera based capturing mini game will begin. If the player is not careful, the Pokémon will run away! Capturing multiples of the same Pokémon will allow one of the duplicates to evolve to its next stage.

The players will be able to gain levels themselves, which will allow them to encounter more powerful Pokémon and receive higher quality items from PokéStops. Although little information on leveling has been announced, we may assume it is tied to the achievement system. Pokémon Company only states that these challenges are related to capturing Pokémon and exploring.

Further touching on the Team system, Pokémon Company reveals that players will not join a team until a certain checkpoint and may not defend Gyms until doing so. After joining a Team, a player may capture gyms and leave 1 Pokémon at each Gym their team controls. Presumably to a maximum of 6 Pokémon, as has been the limit in previous game titles.


Update 2

Further inspection of the screenshots revealed by Niantic and Pokémon Co. reveals that Pokémon GO shares the same character models used in Pokémon X/Y and Pokémon OR/AS.

1-1-597x1024Spr_6x_002 Spr_6x_007 Spr_6x_104

While capturing a wild Pokémon it appears that the character models from the Pokémon Amie minigame are used. Although the texture map appears to be a bit darker, the animation for Ivysaur in Pokémon Amie appears identical to the animation in the SXSW Sneak Peak.

A clip of Vensaur is featured at the SXSWA clip of Vensaur from Pokemon Alpha Sapphire.

We can also see a still frame of Squirtle from Niantic’s Blog Post compared against Pokémon Amie.

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As Pokémon GO progresses in development, it is possible that we could see some changes, but for now we can expect to see a rehash of some of our old favourite designs.