Pokemon Go Fest 2020 – 25-26 July 2020 – a festival of Pokemon enthusiasts during a pandemic

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With the planned live and in-person Pokemon Go Festival 2020 in Chicago being untenable due to the pandemic sweeping across the globe, especially in the United States, Niantic decided to run this year’s festival a little differently this year. Instead of only one location being host to the festival, everyone who bought a ticket across the globe could participate and from the comfort of their own home. I want to share the experience and my thoughts on the festival and how it went.

For and foremost, you need to have the Pokemon Go app installed on your mobile device. For me, I have been playing Pokemon Go from its very inception back in June 2016. Hence, I have collected a vast collection of Pokemon, including lucrative shinies from Bulbasaur to Larvitar and legendaries such as Ho-oh and Giratina. To participate, you needed to purchase the festival ticket from the Pokemon Go in-game store for AUD$22.99 with real money, not PokeCoins. If you ask me, this was a pretty big asking price for a virtual experience.

The event took place over two days from 25 July 2020 to 26 July 2020 between 10:00 am to 8:00 pm each day. There were Day 1 and Day 2 events to take part in. For Day 1, every hour the Pokemon that spawned would be different based on the theme of the hour. These rotated between Battle, Friendship, Fire, Water and Grass in that order.

During each themed rotation, here were the common Pokemon that appeared during each themed hour:

  • Battle: Croagunk, Gible, Dratini, Machop, Alolan Grimer, Stunfisk, Durant, Slakoth, Sableye, Skarmory, Sneasel, Meditete, Swablu, Zangoose, Seviper.
  • Friendship: Snorlax, Eevee, Chansey, Clefairy, Togetic, Marill, Sudowoodo, Wobbuffet, Mantine, Feebas, Roselia, Chimecho, Woobat.
  • Fire: Charmander with a visor, Charizard, Vulpix, Growlithe, Ponyta, Alolan Marowak, Flareon, Hondour, Numel, Tepig, Darumaka, Litwick, Heatmor.
  • Water: Squirtle with a visor, Poliwag, Tentacool, Slowpoke, Magikarp, Vaporeon, Chinchou, Owilfish, Mudkip, Carvanha, Clamperl, Luvdisc, Oshawott, Tympole, Alomomola.
  • Grass: Bulbasaur with a visor, Venusaur, Oddish, Exeggcute, Alolan Exeggutor, Tangela, Sunkern, Treeko, Seedot, Cherrim, Snover, Leafeon, Snivy, Foongus, Ferroseed.

At all times of the hour, there were also Unown, letters G and O appearing. You could also found a washing machine Rotom if you took a photo of your Pokemon using your mobile device. (It was a 100% rate of finding a Rotom.) In addition to all the above, there was increased chances of finding lucrative shinies including Pokemon with new shinies forms now available such as Heatmor, Clefairy, Woobat and Qwilfish to name a few.

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Accompanying these were the global community day challenges and raids. Each hour would produce a different challenge, such as battling in 500,000 raids. If the number was met, then everyone would reap in the reward for the remaining hour. In this case, once the 500,000 raids were complete, everyone would get 3 times more raid stardust and experience points. Speaking of raids, there were lots of legendaries popping up at the various gyms. Day 1 had a lot of Kyogre and Groudon, whereas Day 2 had a lot of Palkia, Dialga and Giratina.

To battle in the gyms, particularly if you are far away from a gym, you needed Remote Raid Passes. These are 250 PokeCoins for 3 passes. You are given one set for free during the course of the event. Unfortunately, I couldn’t participate in many of the legendary raids, because there weren’t enough people and if there were, not everyone had a spare Remote Raid Pass or was willing to spend more to purchase them.

During the festival, I managed to capture some shinies on Day 1, including Exeggcute, Qwilfish and Unown (G). On the second day, I caught Heatmor, Clamperl and Magikarp. I know a few people who went ballistic and caught over 20 shinies on Day 1. Unlike me, they were using multiple devices and were really getting their moneys worth. One device is not enough.

By the end of Day 1, I thought the event was event was lackluster in that it really needed to be among people. The banter was absent and the sense of excitement wasn’t there without the crowds. The experience also all depends on where you live, whether you live close to PokeStops and gyms and who you are at home with. I was lucky to be in range of two PokeStops, but nothing else. In terms of communicating with people, I found it quite tedious having to message people or speak to people using the same device you were playing the game. Yes there was a virtual lounge and live blog, but I didn’t participate in them.

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Also, the experience didn’t feel right, because you needed to pop an incense to draw Pokemon towards you otherwise there was nothing around. Mind you, the Pokemon drawn to you would appear every 15 seconds. With the pandemic, this obviously wasn’t the ideal way to be playing the game during this festival.

Day 2 was a twist. It turned out that the theme was Team Go Rocket Takeover. All the PokeStops had been taken over by Team Go Rocket grunts. The Day 2 Research Challenge became far more interesting compared to the Day 1 Special Research Challenge, which had some basic rewards and challenges. For the Day 2 Special Research Challenge, I was able to work my way through the challenges to face off against Giovanni and his Shadow Mewtwo. None of the challenges were tough, as they usually can be. I was excited to capture some shadow versions of the legendary birds and both Shadow Mewtwo and the mystical Pokemon Victini.

In terms of Pokemon spawn, Day 2 had all Pokemon that appeared commonly on Day 1 appear throughout the day. There was no themed hour. Also, the Team Go Rocket grunts and team leaders were made easier to defeat and they spawned every 15 minutes at the PokeStops, along with them flying around in balloons.

It’s been announced that thanks to the efforts of the ticket holders, all Pokemon Go players will experience the Ultra Unlock rewards in the coming weeks, these include Dragon Week, Engina Week and Unova Week.

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Overall, the Pokemon Go Fest 2020 was nice to experience and it does beat doing nothing at home. However, since seeing the previous Pokemon Go Fests where stadiums and parks are packed with Pokemon things and vistas and people on YouTube, I felt the experience was a tad lackluster from home. I hope to be able to experience one of the Pokemon Go Fests live and in person one day.

In terms of gameplay, it was nice to be able to capture some hard to find Pokemon and battle against Giovanni and his Shadow Mewtwo. On the other hand, I just wished they offered some of the regional exclusive Pokemon like Heracross and Tropius during the event and more items for free such as Remote Raid Passes, Pokeballs and Pokemon storage space.

As always, Pokemon Go has had so many changes since its inception that it’s almost completely unrecognisable. The game is always evolving and has adapted well during the pandemic, so I look forward to seeing where it goes next.

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