Pokémon GO Fest 2020 kicked off with a day of surprises, which, in addition to a lot of fun, unfortunately also included over an hour of server problems. As players rallied against the developer of the game they loved on Twitter, and Niantic's poor social media manager handled the fallout, things stabilized again and stayed smooth early into the event. What went off without a hitch, though, were the discussions and presentations that Niantic streamed alongside GO Fest 2020, sort of like their own mini-SDCC. During the presentations, the company gave details on two major changes coming to Pokémon GO: Mega Evolution and a level cap increase, which will introduce ten new levels after Level 40, the once highest achievement a player can attain.
Matt Slemon, Niantics, Senior Project Manager, spoke on the GO Fest 2020 stream:
"We're really excited for Mega Evolution. It's been really important to us as develops and fans of the franchise to get this one right. It's something we've been spending some time on. The one thing I can confirm today is that your existing Pokémon today are the ones that will be Mega Evolving. So the Charizard that you got at the very beginning of the game, your first Charmander, the one that you evolved on Community Day, those are all candidates. They can all be Mega Evolved."
This is something that fans have been speculating on about Mega Evolution for a long time, with some theorizing that Niantic, who have previously put atypical evolutions such as Alolan Raichu and Alolan Marowak as raid exclusive, would put Mega Evolved Pokémon in raids or as a reward in special research. Slemon's reveal clarifies that this will not be the case, which was well-received by the player base. Now, one major question about Mega Evolution remains: will Niantic have it as a temporary, battle-only component as in the main series of games, or will they break from the games and make them permanent, the same way they did Giratina and Deoxys's different forms?
Slemon continued, commenting on the upcoming increase in the level cap to Level 50:
"This is something that's been in discussion for a very long time. The right way to do a level cap increase has been the topic of much debate internally. The most important piece that we wanted to land is, we don't want the level cap to increase and certain people get sent to their new level, and that's the end of it."
Here, Slemon refers to players who, after reaching level 40, continue to play with the goal of maximizing XP. XP was only known to be useful in the game as a means of leveling up, and some players long theorized that if a level cap increase comes out, that they will rise to the new cap overnight if they grid enough XP. Slemon dispelled this at GO Fest 2020, saying:
"We do want the experience to feel a little different past level 40 than it has up to level 40. So fundamentally, getting to level 41 and beyond is going to require effort. That's really what levels are intended to display, how much effort you put into the game. So that effort economy is still very important for us, but it's not going to be as simple as just grinding XP the way you're used to."
Stay tuned to Bleeding Cool for more on Pokémon GO as news breaks from GO Fest 2020.