This Is Where Pokémon GO Fest 2021 Went Right

Now that Pokémon GO Fest 2021 is over, let's look back at the event with an eye toward the future. After the event, Niantic took to their Twitter account to thank the Pokémon GO community, saying "See you next year." With changes coming to the game that are expected to adjust gameplay back to its pre-pandemic state in some ways, we can only theorize on what next year's GO Fest will look like. Let's see what worked for GO Fest 2021 that should be carried over to GO Fest 2022.

Pokémon GO Fest 2021 Promo image. Credit: Niantic
Pokémon GO Fest 2021 Promo image. Credit: Niantic
  • Theme: Much more than previous GO Fests, GO Fest 2021 was themed around its Mythical Pokémon release. It felt as if the entire game, especially on the first day, was building toward Meloetta's arrival at the end of the Special Research. Then, Day Two built toward the upcoming arrival of Hoopa in the game after the event. This kind of light narrative makes Pokémon GO feel more like an experience beyond just grinding for catches, candy, Stardust, and XP. I'd love to see a Shaymin-themed GO Fest 2022. And let's be real. If Shaymin doesn't finally get its time next year, that's… that's just wrong.
  • Boosted Shinies: This has been a staple of GO Fest since the start. Now, this event did go wrong on Sunday by being stingy with the rate, but Saturday's rate felt perfect. Not too high, but rewarding to those who grind.
  • Costumed Pokémon: Now, a lot of people don't like these, but I personally think these enrich events. They're essentially event-exclusive Pokémon. Every time I scroll through my storage and see, for example, Safari Hat Pikachu, I remember catching it during Safari Zone. It's a perfect way to create lasting memories with simple catches.
  • Raid & battle innovation: I don't think Niantic should ever repeat the structure of this year's Sunday raids because it felt like a fun thing to go once. However, it's very interesting how last year saw Team GO Rocket battles and research that innovated by offering Shadow encounters through the tasks, allowing us to get a Shadow after beating the leaders and a boss and unlocking one through tasks. Then, 2021 saw the Legendaries return to raids all at once. Niantic should keep pushing at these expectations in Pokémon GO to deliver new ideas, and GO Fest 2022 is a great chance to continue that pattern.
  • Location: Finally, GO Fest 2022 must remain remote. Pokémon GO players are used to it now and in the past year and change, it has become a huge highlight of the game. However… Niantic also should continue in-person events. I think it would be fair to see select in-person events in the form of Safari Zones, followed by perhaps early access, in-person GO Fests that will then culminate in a final, shared, remote GO Fest.

What do you think? What would you like to see come to Pokémon GO for GO Fest 2022?

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About Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.
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