Pokémon GO is still in the middle of dumping out all its Legendary Pokémon into raids. We started with four Legendary Birds, now we’ve moved on to three Legendary Beasts and Mewtwo is supposed to be after that. Then we’ll squeeze in Ho-Oh and a pair of Mythics, and be on our way to Gen 3.
Gen 3 data is already starting to worm its way into the game in the backend, as the Ruby/Sapphire era Pokémon will hopefully inject new life into the game when they arrive later this fall/winter, most likely. But I’m not so sure that Gen 3, even if it includes more and better Pokémon overall than Gen 2, will be enough to get the game back on track.
There are two core problems that Pokémon GO needs to address before Gen 3 can be introduced into the game, but I have my doubts that either will be. Simply dumping nearly 150 new Pokémon into the game is enough to get people outside again, perhaps, but there are core problems with the game that need to be addressed first. One has been an issue since raids have launched, the other has been an issue since the game launched.
1) All activities need to be rebalanced in the wake of raids
While raid rewards have recently been nerfed, that’s taking a sledgehammer to a problem that a scalpel would have solved. And it remains the case that raids are still by far the most profitable activity in the game. Pokémon GO needs to buff its other activities to match, at least to some extent.
While making many Pokémon ultra-rare to find in the wild may have worked around launch, now the game has made wild catching incredibly stale, as you see the same 15-20 Pokémon from both Gens wherever you go. It’s getting old. The only time wild catching has been remotely fun in the past few months has been during GO’s special global events, and those have been restricted to certain regions or cities. We’re at a point where rare spawns have to be a lot more common in order for wild catching to be remotely interesting again. It would also encourage people to buy lures and incense yet again if there was more than a 1% chance of ever seeing anything interesting from those items.
The buddy system has been decimated by the ability to instantly catch raid bosses that would have taken weeks or months to evolve manually, and also rare candy which can fill in the gaps of the non-boss Pokémon. Right now, the buddy system is painfully underpowered, and should have all its required distances drastically reduced, and in addition, give out Stardust after hitting certain milestones. Maybe it should even dole out rare candy or TMs after enough walking as well, as too many items are restricted to raids only.
Gyms…I don’t even know where to start with gyms. The new revamp may have been somewhat of an improvement over the old system, but gym rewards are still lacking, and the “decay” system is making turnover frankly ridiculous, especially with higher tier Pokémon. Rewards are…okay, but again, everything lags behind raids.
Eggs should also have their distance reduced. We are no longer in a place where an egg hatch is usually something to celebrate, and rare hatches remain stupidly rare (I have never hatched or caught a Grimer over one year into this game).
2) The gameplay/battle system needs to be reworked completely
I don’t know how many times I can beat this drum, but we’re now in a situation where you can have 5-10 copies of every Legendary Pokémon and have…pretty much nothing to do with them, other than using them in raids to catch more Legendary Pokémon.
Pokémon GO keeps adding all these new features but is forgetting one thing: actual gameplay. Kind of essential for a video game, you would think, but it’s almost completely absent in GO. The catch mechanic is the closest thing the game has to skill-based gameplay, but even Candy Crush is 50x more mechanically complex. Battling has been reduced from a strategic, turn-based system to a frenetic flurry of taps and swipes, requiring little strategy past type matching and just having really, really strong Pokémon. I’ve already written an article previously about how I’d like a much more interactive battle system. It does not have to be like the handhelds or on the level of Pokken Tournament, but it has to be more involved than what we have so far. The “hardest” fights in the game now are simply finding enough people with enough Tyranitars to beat down a boss, and that has to change. Battling needs to be better, and activities in which to battle have to be better.
Solve these two problems and then yes, Pokémon GO might be ready for Gen 3. But until then, simply sprinkling more Pokémon into the game is not going to fix its core issues, and players will continue to depart.