With practically the whole world under stay-at-home orders, video games have been getting a lot of time in the spotlight as ways to connect with others and explore worlds from the comfort of your own home. However, one major video game is suffering from people remaining at home — Pokémon GO. Niantic’s 2016 hit augmented-reality game has players explore their real-world surroundings to catch Pokémon, battle others, and get items for their adventures. Niantic has been adding updates to make the game more playable from home, with recent additions including increased Incense duration that lets players catch Pokémon from their own home, and updating the game’s fitness tracker to work better indoors, so players can hatch Eggs while exercising or cleaning up around their homes.
One significant aspect of the game that was the most impacted by social distancing was Raid Battles, where players worked together to take down a powerful Pokémon in a specific location. To do these, players had to gather in groups, with some battles attracting dozens of people literally to a single point. Even with the game’s increased home accessibility, the Raid Battle feature had not been changed, so most of the more-difficult battles have been inaccessible. Niantic announced today that it is finally implementing a Remote Raid feature.
Remote Raids will require a special pass that costs 100 coins (which can be earned in-game or purchased for $1). The update mentions specifically that Remote Raid Passes will be available in a bundle costing one coin starting next week. These passes can be used on any raid on the “Nearby” screen in-game. Only a certain number of players of the up to 20 participants can be remote (this number is not specified at the time). Remote battlers will also have reduced attack power in raids, but for now, Niantic has removed this limitation. Remote raiding will hopefully breathe new life back into Pokémon GO’s raid system and let players catch some of the unique Legendary Pokémon only found in raids. However, as it still is limited to raids on the “Nearby” in-game, this still hinders more rural players that do not live in an area with Gyms nearby.
Niantic also announced a new special day that players could enjoy from home: Incense Day: Type Shuffle. The event is to be held Sunday, April 19. The event will last from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. local time. On each hour, the type of Pokémon that is more commonly found will shuffle, starting with Water, then Fire, Grass, Psychic, Ground, and ending with Bug. The species of Pokémon boosted in the event are either very rare or have available Shiny variants. In addition to the rest of these Pokémon, Sentret will also be spawning in increased numbers on activated incense throughout the entirety of the event.
Pokémon GO has had to adapt along with the changing times rapidly, and Niantic has certainly been willing to help make the game playable while at home. I’m personally hoping for extended remote raiding that lets you raid with people in your friends’ list, as I live in a rural area with nothing nearby. Even so, the remote features announced today are certainly a step in the right direction.