Last week when we posted footage of what appeared to be Pokemon Go, and while we weren’t entirely sure if it was legit at the time, news coming out of the Pokemon Company and Niatic confirms a bunch of details we were speculating on. There’s still no solid launch date aside from “later this year," with something they’re calling an “early user test" (which smells a lot like a soft launch) in Japan before then.
We already knew from Niatic’s involvement that Pokemon Go was going to be a location-based game, but the way you get Pokemon is actually sort of interesting. If you want a chance at catching a water-type Pokemon, well, you’ve got to find some water nearby. When you’re out wandering around, your phone will vibrate to let you know that a Pokemon is nearby, and you’ll be able to attempt to capture them. Pokeballs come from PokeStops, which apparently will be located at “interesting places," specifically, “places such as public art installations, historical markers and monuments." PokeStops will also sell Pokemon eggs, which contain various types of Pokemon which are then hatched by walking a certain distance.
Of course as you continue to play the game your Pokemon will inevitably level up and potentially evolve, which are then used to engage in battles. You’ll be able to join one of three different teams to participate in “Gym Battles," and much like PokeStops, these gyms will be similarly located at places around the real world. Once you stomp other players at a gym, you can “claim" that particular location’s gym, and other players will need to come steal it back from you.
There’s also going to be a Bluetooth Fitbit-like accessory called the “Pokemon Go Plus" which will let players enjoy the game while not being glued to their smartphone by using an LED and vibrations to alert players to what’s going on. You’ll also apparently be able to do simple actions like capture a Pokemon just using buttons on the wrist-mounted device.
I’m excited to see how Pokemon Go ends up doing. In the history of the App Store, it seems like location-based games have largely felt like gimmicks. When I’ve got more games than I can even play on my iPhone already, it’s hard to say if the allure of Pokemon is going to have be driving out of my way to visit a PokeStop or gym. I’m also curious how they are planning on solving the problem of these kind of games just being straight up boring if you’re not living in a major metropolitan area. Other location-based games I’ve tried have been really cool when I’m in downtown Chicago proper, but as soon as I return back home to the suburbs there’s rarely any activity nearby.
Also, with jailbreakers effectively being able to fake their location to wherever they want with a few different jailbreak tweaks, it’ll be curious to see the divide between players actually playing the game as it was designed and players just warping all over the place with jailbreak cheats- Or if they’ve figured out how to counter that sort of thing. Anyway, consider me cautiously optimistic about Pokemon Go, and of course, stay tuned to TouchArcade for more updates surrounding its release.