Pokémon GO released in 2016 to international mania, acting as a form of wish fulfillment for longtime fans of the franchise. The augmented reality mobile game simplified the core Pokémon formula, giving players the chance to catch 'em all in the real world. At the height of its popularity, busy areas were visibly clogged with players and the game was downloaded more than Tinder. Since that initial phenomenon however, active players have dropped radically. Game developer Niantic has tried to maintain the interest of gamers with a series of updates and events, from the Pokémon GO Buddy System to the recent Valentine's Event, but there are still notable areas which could use improvement. The original crop of 150 Pokémon initially filled fans with nostalgia, but after almost a year, it seems rather limited.
It's long been suggested that Pokémon GO would be evolving in the coming months, but Niantic have confirmed that such a massive update will be coming in a matter of days. Niantic are opening up the Johto region this week.
Through a report from CNBC, it's been confirmed that as many as 80 new Pokémon will be spilling into the real world just days after Niantic's poorly-received Valentine's Day event. Fan-favorites Chikorita, Totodile, and Cyndaquil are among those confirmed in the update, and Niantic have since released screenshots of players encountering the Johto starters in the real world. The update is also offering what's been described as "new encounter gameplay", as well as brand new in-game content, from berries, evolutionary items, and new outfits. This is one of the biggest updates the game has had since its release, and Niantic CEO John Hanke claims that there's still more to come:
"Pokémon Go is a live experience which we'll be continuing to support and evolve in new and interesting ways for years to come with new gameplay features, in-game and live events, more Pokémon to discover, and much more."
Those who haven't kept up with Nintendo's hit franchise since it boomed to popularity during the 1990's might be shocked to hear that there are now as many as 720 Pokémon, excluding mega evolutions and a huge variety of forms. Gen 2 was the first new batch of pocket monsters, shaking up the format with the introduction of 100 additional Pokémon, including new dark and steel-types, all native to the exotic Johto region. Niantic already raided this hugely popular area with the release of beloved babies Pichu and Togepi, but this next update is set to empty almost every Pokémon from Gen 2 into the game.
There's a discrepancy in the amount of Pokémon being released however. Niantic are yet to make legendary Pokémon available to players, and the developer has suggested that they will only be released in an as-yet unconfirmed special event. Gen 2 comprises of 6 legendary Pokémon which are unlikely to release with the update, but adding this to the pre-release of both Pichu and Togepi, still leaves the total of 80 new Pokémon short of the remaining Gen 2 monsters, suggesting that Niantic are holding some in reserve for future updates.
Pokémon GO is available for both Android and iOS now.