Pokemon Go is perhaps one of the most anticipated multiplayer games of the year. It shot up to number one on the Google Play store in less than five hours, and if you’ve been on Facebook at all you know that just about every gamer is playing it right now. But not everyone seems to be happy with Pokemon Go. In fact, it’s being met with pretty mixed reviews. We thought we’d have a closer look at Niantic’s augmented reality title, so read on for our Pokemon Go first day impressions!
Getting started in Pokemon Go is incredibly simple. Once you have the app and you’ve signed up for an account you go into an incredibly basic character creator. You’re able to pick from a few colors for hair, eyes, your clothes, and skin tone, but that’s where the customization ends. The character I created looks nothing like me which is more than just a little disappointing.
You’re then confronted by three Pokemon – you have to pick which one of those will be your starting Pokemon and catch it. Only, they don’t tell you how to do that. After a couple of minutes experimenting I finally worked it out and caught myself a Bulbasaur. Not my first choice, but in the middle of trying to learn how to throw a pokeball I accidentally switched from the Charmander that was just in front of me.
Empty Suburbs Are Empty
An important part of Pokemon Go are the PokeStops and Gyms. These are real-life locations, typically churches and monuments, though they’re also commonly schools and other important buildings.
Live in the suburban sprawl or heaven forbid in an actual rural area? You are so, so out of luck, though I have to say Niantic make every effort to ensure that small towns are included.
My small town of 28,000 has quite a few PokeStops and Gyms, so long as you’re close to the middle of town. If you’re out in the more suburban area, where my house is for instance, things look a little more bleak.
However, I have also seen people, particularly in Austin, who mention being downtown without any Stops or Gyms to be found. So it looks like Niantic are still working out some of the specifics…
The problem runs deeper than just optimizing the amount of locations. In fact, the entire game gave a feeling of not really being finished, and forced out a bit too soon. You don’t have to fight Pokemon to catch them, you just throw a ball at them and pray to RNGesus that you actually catch them.
The multiplayer options just aren’t there either. Sure, we have already heard a ton of great stories about people meeting other people who were playing it at the very same moment. We actually went to get takeout and there was a couple trying to go online too.
Of course, the four of us chose the exact moment when the servers were down to venture out to the Chinese place right across the street from our local Gym. But with all the server troubles, the lack of real world locations in many places, the lack of multiplayer, or any real combat really (except in Gyms), the whole game simply feels like it was pushed out the door before it was ready.
Gotta Catch ‘Em All
Despite everything stated above, I’ve still found myself checking the game throughout the day for any nearby Pokemon.
Many of my friends who live in larger cities have been showing off their collections of anywhere between 30 and 50 Pokemon today. Meanwhile, I only have 13 of them, and just two of those were collected without the use of incense. That would be the starting Bulbasaur and a Poliwag we found hanging out on the sidewalk next to our local PokeStop on our walk to get takeout and just before the server crashed.
Actually, the screenshots you see in this article have been taken when my character had incense on, which I did on purpose, just so I could have some good screenshots to show.
Sadly, without incense to artificially attract Pokemon, I’m finding that lots of them are simply outside my reach. You will be given two incense to start with, just enough to get you hooked so you start paying real money to catch Pokemon from the comfort of your own home.
Not A Game For People With A Life
Want to evolve your Pokemon? Prepare to grind! That’s right, I said grind. To evolve your Pokemon you need candy. And how do you get candy? By catching the same type of Pokemon over, and over, and over again.
Although there are a few different ways to get candy, the most common is to catch Pokemon and then give them to the Professor. At the moment my highest Pokemon is Pidgeotto, who needs 50 candies to evolve, but a thread on Reddit from the beta suggests the numbers could easily go up into the 500s! That’s a whole lot of grinding and not something that busy people might like doing in the long run.
Final Thoughts on the First Day
From the underwhelming character creation process right up to the empty suburban sprawl that I spend all my time in, I’ve constantly felt like Pokemon Go wasn’t very well polished and that it wasn’t a game for everyone. Unlike many other games, your ability to play or not is entirely dependent on your location in the world and a bit of luck.
Although I’m not hugely impressed so far, I do plan on continuing to play for now, especially as I play Niantic’s other game, Ingress. Who says I can’t play both at the same time? Aside from my battery levels, that is.
My hope is that, in time, more development will be put into the game and things that are currently lacking will be fixed, along with the introduction of more combat. For now though, my grinding begins again as I try to get more candy to evolve Pidgeotto.
How have your experiences with Pokemon Go been? Have you had your bathroom invaded yet? Or are you stuck in parts of the world where the game hasn’t been released yet? If so, you may consider getting the APK, there are rumors you MIGHT get banned… but no official statement on that has been released.Related: Android, Augmented Reality, F2P, First Impressions, iOS, Launch, Mobile, Multiplayer, Niantic, Pokemon GO