The Pokémon Go Release: Features Confirmed

Disappointingly, the Pokemon Go release still isn’t upon us just yet. That isn’t stopping Niantic Labs, The Pokemon Company and Nintendo from building hype for the game.

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Available now in Japan through beta testing and everywhere else later this year, Pokémon Go keeps the fundamental ideas of a Pokémon role-playing game intact. You capture the creatures and use them to take on other Trainers.

The big difference for this game is that the developer is relying on augmented reality techniques to make the title unlike anything we’ve seen from the franchise before. Pokémon appear in the real world amongst the trees, grass and courtyard. Walking around in the real world not an on-device recreation of that world helps you find new creatures. Trainers in nearby areas can battle each other for supremacy.

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Read: Pokémon Go Release: What We Know Now

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There are other new features too, features only confirmed in this morning’s press release about the game.

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Shop at PokéStops

When video footage of Pokémon Go leaked earlier this week, many thought that it was confirmation that PokéMarts would make their way into the game. Turns out, things are a bit more complicated than that. Pokémon Go doesn’t have PokéMarts. It has PokéStops.

PokéStops will offer players the chance to pick up items. To enhance the feeling that users are playing in the real world, they’ll surface at specific landmarks in the area. Unfortunately, Nintendo and Niantic stopped short of confirming what items will be sold at each PokéStop, but it’s a safe bet that they’ll offer PokéBalls and more that were confirmed in the video. It’s also safe to assume that they’ll take that Crystal currency that was also confirmed in the video leak.

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Wild Pokémon Types in Specific Areas

Niantic hinted at there being Pokémon types specific to regions late last year, and confirmed that is the case with this morning’s release.

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When looking for a Water-Type Pokémon, you’ll need to check out the area around a lake or the open sea, for example. Other types of creatures will be region specific, but Niantic and Nintendo aren’t ready to confirm anything beyond Water-Type, it seems.

Notifications without the Pokémon Go Plus

Briefly, Pokémon Go Plus is mentioned within the new details, but we don’t learn anything new about it. The Pokémon Go Plus is a wearable notification device that’ll alert users when creatures are nearby. Nintendo said in earlier talks that it pushed for the Go Plus accessory so that users wouldn’t spend too much time gazing at their smartphone.

Plenty of people won’t pick up the accessory though, and that’s why Nintendo is including notifications for the game. When Pokémon Go players get close to a creature that they can capture, their phones will vibrate, negating the need to purchase the Pokémon Go Plus for casual players.

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Pokémon Go Teams, Territory Control & Gyms

Pokémon Go is being designed and built by the same company that created Ingress, a territory control game that also used the real-world as a playground. One of the features Niantic seems to be borrowing from its earlier game is the idea of teams of territory control.

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In the game, players will be able to join teams. Each team member gets to leave one creature behind at Gyms scattered throughout the real world. Other teams can visit that Gym to battle the Pokémon that the other team left there for supremacy. The game will have three world-wide teams in all, with only a single team able to control a Gym at a time. Teams can lose their Gyms if the team of creatures they leave there aren’t balanced enough, Nintendo says.

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Achievements and Challenges

Pokémon Go will have achievements and challenges for players to complete beyond just controlling their local Gyms with their chosen team.

Trainer Levels

As Pokémon Go players capture and battle, they’ll level up as a Trainer. We don’t know too much about this progression system, except that it’ll determine what types of items are available to players and what creatures they can capture and add to their roster.

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Trainer levels is a relatively new idea to the Pokémon franchise. In other games, Trainers only had to worry about leveling up their creatures, not monitoring their own rank.

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Pokémon Eggs & Pokémon Evolution

Lastly, we’ve learned a bit more about the creatures that’ll be in the game. It turns out that evolutions are making their way into Pokémon Go, but not in the way we assumed they might. Instead of XP, capturing the same creatures multiple times will get users an evolution of that creature.

Eggs are getting included in the game too, but they work exactly how you’d expect if you’re familiar with any game dating back to Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver. Only by walking around with them will they hatch. Capturing wild Pokémon will require users to throw a ball at them from the touchscreen on their smartphone.

No doubt, we’ll hear more about the Pokémon Go release soon, but not too soon. Niantic and Nintendo are careful to note that the game is still in active development, dashing hopes of a worldwide launch sometime in the immediate future for sure.