Here we are. It’s officially one week in to Pokémon GO’s new Friendship feature. The Friendship aspect of Pokémon GO is something I always wanted added to the game, though I couldn’t have really articulated exactly how I wanted it to work. Some way of connecting with — and keeping tabs on — friends that play the game was something I thought would be really cool.
Trading is something I never wanted in the game. I thought it sounded horrible. Why would I want to trade with anyone? Wouldn’t that be potentially dangerous? Wouldn’t it create a black market? Wouldn’t it give the advantage to spoofers who can instantly collect 100% IV Pokémon from anywhere in the world and use them as leverage to get whatever else it is that they want?
Well, Niantic seems to have taken all of that into consideration and put together what may be their most well thought out update to the game yet. They seem to have addressed almost every issue that could potentially make trading not work and this system really seems to work. On the one hand it would be cool to potentially use a 100% IV Pokémon to trade to a collector or get for your collection, but this update anticipates that problem and it’s a necessary sacrifice that it is not possible to do with the current system.
Intertwined with friendship and trading is a gifting system that allows you to send gifts to your friends anywhere in the world. This is a very nice feature in that total trading distance is now tracked so if you have friends anywhere far away, if you trade a Pokémon hatched from one of their gifted eggs you can use that to get a lot of trading distance.
This is a huge update to the way that the game is played, introducing lots more to do, new strategy, additional things to accomplish, and much more to think about. The last few months have marked a huge change for Niantic from seeming to not do anything with this game to introducing things at such a dizzying pace that it’s almost hard to keep up even as someone who plays every single day.
As I see it, here are the current issues with the new update that I’d like to see worked out.
1.) It’s Clunky
With all the new things added to the game, navigating has become pretty clunky. I think a complete UI redesign may be in order soon. I think more should be accessible from the Pokéball at the bottom of the screen including friends and gyms. Clicking through the avatar screen is getting harder and harder to navicate.
2.) It’s Glitchy
This is to be expected with a new roll out but it’s so glitchy. Sending gifts, opening gifts, showing the wrong sprites, not clearing out the gift image once it’s opened, constant errors with almost every interaction, friends list not loading, all of this needs to be worked out soon. Again, I wouldn’t expect perfection for this brand new feature but it’s hard to imagine how something so glitchy couldn’t have been ironed out before a full scale release.
3.) Friends Sorting
I can’t imagine anyone playing the game that doesn’t wish there was some sort of sorting feature for friends. It’s actually remarkable that it wasn’t put into the release to begin with. Even with my small group of 33 friends it gets pretty old scrolling down, down, down, looking for someone. A simple sort by name, level, location, etc. would solve all of these frustrations easily. While we’re on the subject . . .
4.) No Location Indicator
There’s no indication where any of your friends are from. Some players (sorry, it’s hard to call them “trainers” with a straight face) have taken to naming their buddy Pokémon with their location. This is a good workaround but this should really be built into the game.
5.) No Gift Indication
Currently there is no way to scroll through your friends to see who can or cannot receive a gift. Having to tap on each friend individually is annoying. There should be a way to see this at a glance and also a way to see your friend’s info if you currently have a gift waiting from them.
6.) Sorting Pokémon By Location
We need this in the game with the next update. Simply sorting your Pokémon list by nearest or farthest from your current location will make the trading process so much easier. Two players looking to wrack up trading distance will much more easily be able to do this rather than by individually renaming Pokémon based on their geotags.
7.) Pokémon Storage Space Increase
I can’t believe I’m saying this but 1500 slots is just not enough! Between saving Pokémon for transfer or evolution for double candy or double XP events, all the shinies, new forms, and now saving loads of Pokémon from far away places to trade these slots are getting used up pretty quickly. I feel like we were in a similar spot back when training up gyms was int he game and we had to keep a lot of 800CP to 1200CP Pokémon in reserve. Getting rid of training cleared up a lot of space but we have two additional generations, shinies, forms, etc. It’s time to bring it up to 2000 slots so that then we can claim we need 2500.
8.) Egg Anxiety
With 7km eggs added to the game, and only available through gifts, this makes spinning Pokéstops so much more stressful. Accidentally spinning a stop when you have an open egg space and getting a 5km egg is now the worst thing that can happen to you in the game. A week in and I’m still trying to get my timing and strategy down for when to open gifts and when to spin stops.
9.) Overall 7km Egg Variety
Getting the new Alolan forms is cool and all but having a mere four new Pokémon in this class of egg got old by day two. Having Meowth hatch more than half of the time (56%) with Vulpix less than 4% of the time seems like nothing more than a cheap excuse to get people to buy more incubators. Having a wider variety of Alolan forms (or just more Pokémon in general) would be necessary pretty soon to avoid this getting old. The only saving grace for this is that if you are lucky enough to get garbage (i.e. Meowth) from far enough away you can always trade it for someone else’s garbage Meowth and then transfer it right away.
The ability to discard eggs poses some legitimate problems but something needs to change. An additional infinite incubators, having 7km eggs on a separate egg screen, having 9 eggs of each distance, permanent incubator bundles available, whatever it is it seems like there is a shift needed at this point.
10.) No Alternate Name or Message Feature
Combined with not knowing the location of friend requests coming in there’s no way to put an alternate name or message explaining exactly who this friend is that’s requesting you. It’s also hard to remember who is who when scrolling the list. Real names (optional) or nick names could help as well as locations. That being said I do not think there should be a chat feature in the game for a number of obvious reasons.
This update has been a lot of fun. A few simple tweaks and bug fixes could really take this new system to the next level. This may be the single biggest update to the game since launch and it’s going to open the doors to many more great things in the future.