Monthly Archives: February 2017

Bring Us Back to Pokémon GO

Pokémon GO‘s release was a cultural phenomenon. For days, it was impossible to walk down the sidewalk or go to the park and not see several trainers-in-training huddled around a lured PokéStop. Yelling “there’s a Lapras over here!” became our generation’s new “crying fire in a crowded theater” as a sure stampede starter.

Unfortunately for many, ourselves included, the game didn’t hold interest for very long. That’s not to say the game is a lost cause, though. Niantic has made several updates to the game this past month, adding Daily Quests as well as re-implementing the “tracking” feature that was so bugged at launch. We have high hopes for a planned large patch hitting early this December, so here are some changes we’d like to see that might just make us put on our snap-back and go outside again.

 

1. Trading

Arguably the most requested feature since the game’s release, the ability to trade Pokémon with our friends is something nearly everyone wants. Niantic’s obviously had quite a difficult time adding this feature, considering it was portrayed in the popular announcement trailer over a year ago. There are some obvious concerns with the potential exploitative nature of power-users charging money for trades, but implementing a proximity requirement to trade would do away with most concerns there.

 

2. Team Progress Maps

Initially, there was a lot of pride involved with being a member of a Pokémon GO team. It was fun to capture gyms for the glory of your team, and working with strangers who happened to be on the same team as you was one of the game’s simplest pleasures. However, now capturing gyms is only useful as a means to an end to train Pokémon and gain XP. The lack of an indication of how your team is performing outside of your immediately area means travelling to capture new gyms is much less exciting than it could be.

 

3. PvP Skirmishes

Controlling gyms for the glory of your team is all well and good, but sometimes you need to settle a score with friends. Much like trading, there are certainly concerns with abuse of the system, but I would be content with the the PvP battles being simple “skirmishes” that don’t generate rewards or cause lasting damage to Pokémon. Niantic has been on record as saying a PvP battling system is “on the roadmap,” so it’s hopefully coming at some point.

Best Games I’ll Never Finish

As I get older I find that it’s getting much harder to find the time to play all of the great games out there. A fellow video game journalist and I were talking yesterday about our completion backlogs; the games that we’ve started, and really enjoyed, but have never actually taken the time to beat. The more I thought about it I began to realize that there are some amazing games out there that I’ll probably never finish. There’s an ever-present opportunity cost of time from which we all suffer as grown, working adults. This is especially true when your job is to cover an industry where something new is always right around the corner. I’d like to take a moment to eulogize the three greatest games that I don’t think I’ll ever get around to finishing, no matter how much I’d like to.

Final Fantasy Tactics

I feel especially ashamed about this one because I always say FFT is one of my favorite games. Here’s the thing: I played it for the first time as a kid when I borrowed my best friend’s copy. I got about 15 hours deep before having to give it back to him, and that’s just enough to time to really start developing some advanced jobs with solid abilities. I ended up buying the game for myself later on, but had to start over because in the meantime I needed some extra save blocks on my memory card (you remember the struggle). I got to almost the same point before life took over and I had to walk away. I’ve since invested about 7 hours on the PSP version, and most recently a few hours on my Vita. As much as I want to see the end game and recruit Cloud into my party, I just don’t see it happening, especially with the awful slowdown that plagues the PSP port during battles.

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate

This is my type of game: a challenging, loot-rich grindfest. Monster Hunter is one of the most gratifying games I’ve ever played. ProJared, I think, summarized what makes this game so addictive very poetically: “You can run around and gather things, you can mine things, you can kill things, and then you carve ‘em up and you use those things to make new weapons and new armor, and then you go fight bigger things.” It’s a simple formula, but it’s just so dang time consuming. Most of the great equipment that you’ll need will require that you go back and hunt some big monsters multiple times. That’s the point, really, each time you face one of these scaly giants you find that the battle gets easier as you learn their patterns and forge marginally better gear and upgrades. Time spent on fan forums will reveal that it’s not uncommon for serious players to spend well over a thousand hours on each installment of the franchise. That’s just time I don’t have anymore, y’all.