Pokémon Go has taken over the world, turning millions of people into Poke-obsessives who wander around trying to find as many virtual monsters as possible. Although Nintendo has definitely hit on something special with Pokémon Go, the app itself feels like a major work-in-progress. If you strip away the Pokémon license, what you’re left with is a pretty shoddily-made app with a ton of problems, both from a technical and design standpoint. Fortunately, Pokémon Go is almost guaranteed to get better as time goes on and already has thanks to a few updates that have been rolled out in the title’s first two weeks on the market, but there is still much to be done. Here are some updates and fixes that would make Pokémon Go a much better and more user-friendly experience.
11. Nearby Tracking
Update [August 2]: Niantic has released an update that removes three-step tracking entirely and are claiming that they are looking into creating a new system altogether for tracking Pokémon. They’ve also cracked down on third party software that made tracking easier. So for the foreseeable future, actually tracking Pokémon in Pokémon Go will pretty much just involve stumbling onto something randomly, which isn’t an ideal situation by any means.
This issue has been plaguing Pokémon Go since July 15th, and although it will most likely be fixed very soon, it’s still significant enough to highlight. Basically, Pokémon Go is suffering from sort of bug that’s screwing up the nearby tracking system, making all Pokémon in an area appear at a “three footprint” distance away. This has effectively made seeking out nearby Pokémon a maddening experience, as it’s impossible to tell whether or not you’re getting closer or further away from a Pokémon unless it literally pops up on your screen.
This isn’t really a big deal when you’re surrounded by a bunch of Pidgeys, Rattatas, and Drowzees, but the moment you see a silhouette of something you haven’t seen before, things quickly become very frustrating. Some have speculated that Niantic deliberately compromised the tracking system to increase the stability of the app’s servers, but seeing as how the developer has yet to release a statement addressing the issue, we have no way of knowing for sure. Whatever the case may be, nearby tracking needs to be fixed ASAP.
10. Daily Challenges
When you get down to it, there really isn’t much to do in Pokémon Go other than catching Pokémon and taking over Gyms. While additional activities are surely on the way, creating content like that can take a long time. In the meantime, a good way to incentivize users to keep playing while they wait for new things to do would be to implement a challenge system, as seen in countless other games. Challenges could include things like “Capture 10 Pokemon today” or “Hit 10 Pokestops,” with different in-game rewards awarded upon completion. It would be a relatively easy system to implement and would give players additional meta-goals to strive for and thus, more reasons to keep playing.
9. Group Up Option
For an app that encourages social interaction, it’s disappointing that Pokémon Go doesn’t actually have many options in the app itself for actually engaging with other players. One way that developer Niantic Labs could help incentivize group activities is to add a group up feature that would give players bonuses for tracking Pokemon together. Essentially, players would earn bonus xp — and possibly other bonuses like additional Poké Balls, potions, etc. — each time they catch a new Pokémon or perform a task together. Something like a 10-20% boost would be ideal and would make for a great social feature in a game that feels surprisingly lonely at present. Seeing as how trading with other players has already been confirmed as an upcoming feature, groups would be a natural extension of this focus on implementing more social features.
8. Make Catching Higher Level And Rare Pokemon Less Frustrating
The actual process of catching Pokémon is relatively easy in the early stages of Pokémon Go, as you just throw Poké Balls at your target until they’re captured. Once you start hitting higher level Pokémon, the difficulty ramps up considerably. Now, this is fine for rarer types that you don’t see very often, but when the game makes a high CP Rattata difficult to catch, there’s a problem. These kinds of Pokémon are barely worth your time to begin with, but once you see a 200+ CP one, you might as well cut your losses and flee because they’re just not worth the effort.
However, the most significant issue that needs to be addressed is that Pokémon Go arbitrarily makes the actual process of catching high level Pokémon (400 CP and higher) more difficult than it needs to be. At this stage, you not only need to deal with the Pokémon being more difficult to capture once you actually hit it with a ball (which, for the record, is how it should be), but for whatever reason, the game introduces an auto curve on all your shots. This makes actually landing a throw on one of your targets super frustrating; even more so considering at this stage you’re most likely using more valuable Great Balls and Ultra Balls. Hopefully, Niantic listens to player feedback and eliminates this auto curve altogether, as it just artificially inflates the difficulty level.
7. Get Rid Of Fleeing
In previous Pokémon games, wild Pokémon would flee after a certain point if you failed to capture them, a feature that Pokémon Go decided to adopt as well. Unfortunately, fleeing doesn’t really work in an app such as this. The problem is that it already takes a decent amount of effort just to track down a specific Pokémon, and in a game where things like Poké Balls are already at a premium, it’s frustrating to spend your time and valuable resources trying to capture a Pokémon only for it to flee randomly. Admittedly, certain Pokémon should be hard to catch, but your ability to catch them should be dependent on your ball-throwing skills and how many items you have on hand at a given time; having Pokémon be able to flee at any given moment is just unfair.
6. A Better Battle System
As fun as it is to vie for control of Gyms with other trainers, the actual battle system in Pokémon Go is terrible. Overly simplistic and at the same time frustrating, battles pretty much devolve into desperate tapping on the screen and generally boil down to whoever has the Pokémon with the highest CP level winning. Although the turn-based battle system found in previous Pokémon games has its own set of problems, it would arguably be preferable to have a more simplified version of that in Pokémon Go instead of the current one. It would give players more time to plan strategies and manage their roster of Pokémon, and give those with lower level Pokemon more of a chance to compete instead of getting wiped out in a matter of seconds. Additionally, it would also be great to be able to challenge friends to battles as a way of training Pokémon outside of Gyms.
5. Push Notifications
Unlike other apps of its type (or just most apps in general) Pokémon Go stops tracking anything and everything as soon as you close it down. This has led to a frustrating situation for players where the only way for distance to be tracked on eggs is for the app to be constantly open, which at the same time is a rather insidious way of making sure players engage with nothing else on their phones. Pokémon Go’s user experience would benefit significantly from the implementation of push notifications that send you alerts such as distance accrued towards eggs (“You’ve reached 4 km out of 5 km towards your egg hatching. Only 1 km to go!”) and when a Pokémon is nearby. There could even be a setting that allows you to select specific Pokémon to be alerted to, since seeing constant notifications for nearby Pidgeys would get annoying pretty quickly.
4. Faster Transferring
When you’re not out capturing Pokémon in Pokémon Go, a lot of your time is spent managing your collection and figuring out which Pokémon to keep and which ones to transfer to the professor for precious candies. Unfortunately, this is a ridiculously time-consuming process when you have more than, say, five to transfer at one time, as the app only lets you transfer one at a time. Considering how integral transferring is to Pokémon Go, the app badly needs a way to speed up the overall process. Players should be allowed to transfer multiple Pokémon at once; though in truth, it would be nice to see the developers come up with a different system altogether, as it’s hard not to feel like all the Pokemon you’re sending to the professor are just going to the glue factory for processing.
In other words, Pokémon are incredibly disposable in Pokémon Go and it doesn’t really feel like you’re catching and trading them so much as carving them up for parts so that other ones can become more powerful. I just want to know if those 400 Pidgeys I’ve transferred aren’t just ending up on the professor’s dinner table, that’s all.
3. The Candy System Needs Improvements
Pokémon Go differs significantly from past games when it comes to how you level up and evolve your Pokémon, employing a candy system wherein you catch and trade in duplicates of a particular Pokémon in order to attain candies for leveling and evolving purposes. The problem is that, in its current state, this system is frustratingly slow and repetitive, as it takes a very long time to level up and evolve Pokémon that aren’t relatively common (my starter Charmander will likely remain that way for a long time considering I’ve yet to see another one in the wild).
A preferable system would be if you got randomized candy rewards for transferring and catching Pokémon instead of the one candy for transfers, three for captures system that exists right now. As things stand, it’s incredibly easy to level up and evolve common Pokémon, but good luck turning that Machop into a Machoke — let alone a Machamp — unless the Pokémon Go gods have blessed you with incredibly good fortune.
2. More Ways To Strengthen Pokémon
This sort of builds off my point about Pokémon candies, as using candies and stardust is currently the only way to level up your Pokémon’s CP level. While this simplifies the process, it also hinders those who may not be lucky enough to find multiples of particular Pokémon in their collection. As previously mentioned, you only get candies for specific Pokémon by catching and transferring those Pokémon, but if you’re not finding any out in the wild, you’re out of luck.
Pokémon Go should let you increase CP levels through Gym battles or perhaps even give you the ability to earn generic candies that can be used on any Pokemon. To be fair, this could lead to more imbalance in the Gym scene than there already is, as making it easier to gain CP would enable the more hardcore players to continue dominating, but it still feels like something needs to be done, as the current system is much too restrictive.
1. Better Performance Across The Board
It’s kind of hard to pinpoint what’s wrong with Pokémon Go on a technical level, but “all of it” may be an accurate descriptor. In its current state, Pokémon Go is a buggy mess plagued by server issues and performance hiccups that frequently break the app’s immersion. It’s not uncommon to have to reboot the app multiple times in a given play session, which is fine when you’re just walking around, but when the game crashes in the middle of trying to capture a particularly elusive Pokémon, it’s beyond infuriating.
To be fair, some of the app’s performance issues can be blamed on overloaded servers, as it’s unlikely that Niantic was prepared for it to be this popular, but this app also reeks of being rushed to market and even if the servers were working properly, none of it feel very well-made. Niantic needs to find a way to cut down on Pokémon Go’s lag and improve its overall performance because once the novelty wears off, many players may just decide that capturing Pokémon isn’t worth the aggravation of putting up with a shoddy app.