Gen 3 is coming to Pokémon GO in earnest. This isn’t really news, though it is exciting that it’s going to be happening sooner rather than later. The gradual addition of new Pokémon is this game’s greatest tool for keeping players interested and, ideally, enticing a few lapsed players back into the fold. But it is by the very nature of the game expected, and as time goes on it’s going to get harder and harder to gin up excitement by adding a few more creatures to an ever-growing roster of Pokémon from all generations. But there’s something else coming to Pokémon GO that should have a much bigger impact on how this game plays and feels.
Pokémon GO is getting a dynamic weather system, which will change the experience of the game based on the weather conditions of the location you’re in. Right now, Niantic lists six different potential conditions: sunny, rainy, snowy, partly cloudy, windy and foggy, the last of which probably wouldn’t show up if this game weren’t being developed in San Francisco. Weather conditions will change the in-game visuals as well as which Pokémon you can expect to see outside. It will also mean that some Pokémon types become stronger than others: fire attacks will be stronger on a sunny day, for example.
It’s the sort of thing that can sound complicated but should end up feeling pretty natural if well-implemented. And it’s a bid deal: weather is arguably the biggest change to the core catching experience since the revamped tracking system. Without quests or mid-term goals, Pokémon GO can feel a little flat when it comes to day-to-day gameplay, especially in between new Pokémon drops. But weather works on this problem by creating a sense of occasion in between events. You’re no longer just out there walking, crossing your fingers that an egg turns into a Mareep or what have you. There will still be some of that, but now you’ll also be waiting for the right weather conditions to go out and catch that rare creature to fill out your Pokédex. It means that you might wake up to see snow coming down outside before excitedly bundling up and going to grab a Swinub. That’s big.
Weather clearly ties into Niantic’s long-term vision for its games: to slowly merge the in-game experience with actual reality. And it does so in a very smart, well-conceived of way. It changes the experience of catching Pokémon not so much by doing anything with the game itself, but instead by changing the conditions in which you’re likely to be out playing. So yes, the in-game graphics will change and the game will feel a little different for that reason. But it will feel much more different if you’re out there with real, physical raindrops falling on you, chasing after Mudkip. It’s a great way to lend a kind of gameplay character that would be totally impossible in a different kind of game.
I’m very curious to see how it pans out. We can likely expect plenty of bugs when it first launches because that’s the way of it. And the success of this system will also be dependent on just how much spawns change depending on the weather: it will cut down on how special weather feels if there isn’t enough variance. But all in all, this is a great way to expand both the excitement surrounding Pokémon hunting and the unique characteristics that make this game so unique.
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