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Pokemon Go Fest 2020 Review July 31, 2020

Posted by Maniac in Reviews.
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One year after the game Pokémon Go was released to tremendous success, its developer made the head scratching decision to host an exclusive event for a worldwide phenomenon at a small park in Chicago, IL. Cramming so many players into a small physical area to play the most popular game in the world (at the time) might’ve not been the best idea. The event was a catastrophic failure with poor network connectivity, long lines, and poor staff communication. After the event concluded (and Niantic issued refunds) I posted a plea on this website for Niantic to consider holding their worldwide game as a a worldwide event, and not force players to have to pay travel and hotel expenses to play a game they could just as easily connect to from their own home towns. From what I was told, the following Pokémon Go Fest events were held successfully, but for some reason that eludes my logic they still required players to travel.

Due to the current worldwide pandemic, travel is no longer an option. This past weekend, Niantic actually took my advice and held this year’s Pokémon Go Fest as a worldwide event. Anyone with access to the game and a supported device would be able to participate in the event without having to travel or interact with others. This was the best possible idea I could’ve ever hoped for to hold the event. The price was $14.99 US to participate in the research event, but people who didn’t pay would still able to capture event Pokémon, participate in Raids, and battle Team Go Rocket during the two-day event. The ticket price might seem a little steep to participate in a digital event, but in comparison to not having to pay for a physical event ticket, airfare and hotel fees, it came off as a good value to me.

To get everyone excited for Go Fest 2020, Niantic held several weekly challenges and encouraged everyone to participate by making their own decorations and activity sheets. Here’s a look at some of decorations I was able to make.

Decorations

The event was held over two days with introduction videos beginning on the evening of the day before the event’s start. Here’s the official kickoff video.

Go Fest 2020 Day 1 started at 10am local time and immediately began spawning a diverse biome of recognizable Pokémon that changed on the hour every hour. Players who purchased an event ticket were given a series of exclusive challenges (and some in-game items) to unlock the event goals. A new challenge was awarded every hour, and players (including those who hadn’t paid for a ticket) could still participate. With five biomes of nearly a dozen Pokémon to represent each type, there were plenty of Pokémon to catch and evolve over the course of the day. There were only five biomes and they looped, so players who missed a biome or couldn’t catch enough Pokémon to unlock a later evolution would have multiple chances to catch up throughout the day. Raids also increased in frequency during the event, and thankfully many of the raids could be completed with just one player. The first (and only) premium challenge of Day 1 revolved around catching twenty Pokémon from each biome and participate in two raids. They also were expected to send in-game gifts and make new friends. Players were awarded PokéBalls and raid passes to help them complete the challenge.

At the same time, Niantic partnered with Pokémon Go streamers from across the web to produce some unique Pokémon Go videos players could watch during the first day’s events. They would release those videos over the course of the first day. Here’s my favorite video:

It would be time consuming but not overly difficult to complete the first day’s events. I cannot speak of any login or gameplay issues during Day 1 (short of an occasional network hiccup), and my issues probably had more to do with the fact that in my area’s cellular network I am lucky to get a single bar of reception. I can’t imagine that would’ve been the case if I was playing alongside thousands of other players in close proximity. However, Niantic’s friends list feature was having hiccups throughout Day 1. It was difficult for me at certain times of the day to send gifts to friends, or for them to send me gifts. I know that by mid-day of Day 1, many players were demanding refunds, I was not among them.

There was a mid-day quiz show that was fun to participate in. Users who participated in the stream (or merely watched it) were given a code for some extra in-game items. The quiz show made for a nice break from all the catching and battling, at least for the half hour it lasted, but it wasn’t repeated for the second day. In fact, all of the event’s official video updates were posted before Day 1 concluded, and no new video updates were posted on Day 2.

On Day 2 at 10am local time the final challenges were presented. Unlike the first day, which only had a single challenge, Day 2 posted several challenges that had to be completed in order to unlock the next one. The biomes had returned, giving players a higher chance of catching any Pokémon they missed on the first day. At the same time, Team Go Rocket was flying hot air balloons all over the world, challenging trainers to battle. The day’s premium challenges revolved around defeating Team Go Rocket, and the fact they were attacking from hot air balloons (opposed to PokéStops) made the challenge a lot fairer. Defeating the leaders gave trainers a chance to catch shadow versions of the legendary birds. Defeating Giovanni offered the opportunity to capture a Shadow Mewtwo. By the end of Day 2, if a player had successfully completed all the event challenges, trainers had the opportunity to catch the mythical Pokémon Victini.

I had a ton of fun participating in the two-day event but the event did have issues. While I can’t vouch for any connectivity problems (other than some occasional issues with the friend’s list) other people did complain of those issues. My issues had to do with the fact the event’s challenges required a player to not only have friends, but to make new ones. This was an AWFUL idea, and whoever within Niantic keeps pushing for friend making challenges should be fired. We are currently in the worst pandemic the world has seen in a hundred years, the theme of this year’s Go Fest was we finally the opportunity to play the game by ourselves within our own safe area. Every human being I know has already made their mind up whether or not they want to play the game, I cannot tell you how difficult (not to say embarrassing it was) to cycle through my phone contacts to talk to people who hadn’t checked their gift boxes in months and plead with them to clear out their gifts so I could send them more. Many of those people had quit playing Pokémon Go altogether and were not amused by my pleas. I actually had to convince my own father to start playing the game just to start the challenges on Day 2.

ED NOTE – Forcing players to make new friends and send them gifts could have been the cause of the friend’s list issues throughout the first day. It also had the side effect of swamping the game’s most well-known players with countless friend requests from unknown people. Poké Tips actually had to put a disclaimer towards the end of his recent video pleading for people not to send him friend requests. There was no need for any of it, stop forcing us to make friends Niantic.

Then there was the other issue with Go Fest Day 2. The day’s challenges (once you got past getting people to friend you) revolves around defeating Team Go Rocket. I would be neglectful if I didn’t mention Team Go Rocket already had an identical challenge event leading up to the defeat of Giovanni, and while the rewards to defeating that challenge was different, it would have been nice to see new and different challenges (or a unique storyline) specifically made for the event. That having been said, the event’s story was successful and the hovering hot air balloons made it fair and fun to complete, regardless of the fact the content wasn’t entirely unique.

The event ended with this final cinematic battle between Team Go Rocket and the leaders of Team Mystic, Team Instinct and Team Valor.

So that’s my summary of the event itself and my thoughts on the event. First off, I want to commend Niantic for hosting the event in the way they did. I never would’ve been able to participate in the event at all if they had chosen to hold it at a physical location and I hope this becomes the model for Go Fests moving forward. Now you’re probably wondering if I felt the event was worth the ticket price? I believe it was. I had a blast over the two day event, accomplishing all the tasks as quickly as I was able to. I cannot tell you how shocked I was to receive the chance to catch Shadow Mewtwo after my defeat of Giovanni, and I was very pleased to capture the legendary. The fact I have no friends willing to play the game with me, in the grand scheme of things, is pretty minor. I hope Niantic does this again for next year, if they do I’ll be certain to buy a ticket. Just don’t force me to make any friends!

Pokémon Go is out now for Android and iOS smart devices.