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Pokémon GO: The State of the Game After 0.31.0 Update

The Good Things

The most notable add-on I can see on the update is the avatar customization system. Now, players can access and customize their character from the profile menu, so you can finally change the color and style of your clothes to match your preference or, to match the colors of your chosen Team (Mystic/Valor/Instinct)

Another good thing that the update brings is the adjustment of battle moves and the nests reshuffling for some rare Pokémon. For those who missed it, Damage Per Second (DPS) has been revamped for nearly every move in the game, bringing balance to the force. This makes combat immensely more fun. 

Also, a majority of nests around the world are now spawning different species! It's great to see species variety like this, though it appears certain species (Dratini...) have been made significantly more difficult to acquire for now.

Note: If you want to check out the details on the changes about moves and reshuffling of nests, then you can check out this link later: Niantic Has Done Some Big Changes in Pokémon Go- Nerfing, Buffing & Spawn Nests Changing

Another good addition is the Transfer Button. This button is no longer at the bottom of the Pokémon details screen! This will make transferring much more efficient. You are also prevented from accidentally transferring a 'favorite' Pokémon. 

And lastly, some major Bug were fixed including with maps, Gyms, encounters, and memory 

The Controversial

I just can’t call the removal of the “Nearby” tracking good or bad but, it’s the most controversial topic right now. Some trainers said that this move by Niantic might have just made the game worst but others say that it’s a good thing as it makes the game run smooth and easy to play. Well, let’s dive in to the facts about this removal of the “Nearby” tracking and let’s see if we can come up with a verdict about it in the end.

Right after the removal of the Nearby tracking, you can no longer select specific Pokémon on the nearby screen and track their footsteps that way. This also kills the “compass” tracking method that was never entirely confirmed to be true, but required this feature to work. Another thing that is obvious, is that the order of the Pokémon on the grid in the nearby layout no longer seems to matter. I have seen Pokémon in the “last slot” appearing right next to me, as well as in any spot in the 3×3 grid. Simply put, you can’t seem to use my old tracking method of moving around to try and slide them up and to left so you know you’re getting “closer.”

Also, the scan radius seems to have been decreased, possibly from 100 meters to 70 meters, meaning that you will have to get closer to a Pokémon in order for it to actually pop up next to you. Clearly, it’s not a great development when paired with a total lack of tracking.

In addition, you might have heard of the news last week, when Niantic Labs CEO John Hanke, the creator of Pokémon GO, hinted that certain services that helped players locate creatures within the game may be shut down. He did not wait long to act. Third party apps like Pokévision, PokeHound.com and PokéBliss have become inaccessible or unusable. This proves the fact that Niantic will not tolerate any third-party app usage for Pokemon Go.

Lastly, while your scan distance has been decreased, apparently the range at which you can still catch Pokémon once they’ve spawned has been increased dramatically, perhaps up to 300 meters. This seems useful for…driving? (Not sure of this. Just a wild guess)

So, why is all this happening? Why is Niantic taking a bug fans have complained about for weeks and making it a seemingly permanent part of the game?

This development seems to confirm that this wasn’t really a bug, but rather a feature that was disabled on purpose because of server strain. There’s something about having to tell players exactly how far each Pokémon is from them which puts too much load on the server, so it’s slowly been reduced into non-existence. In the beta, the game used to tell you the exact meter distance away other Pokémon were, but by launch, it was simplified to the step system. Now, with no fix on the way, it does make sense to eliminate the footstep system altogether, because having three steps under everything may be confusing to new players. Some regions have had the game launch never having the old footstep system, so the current one made no sense. Now it’s just “there is some stuff near you, go find it.” The ability to be that general, and not have to track each Pokémon’s individual location undoubtedly means less server strain. I have also heard that this may have been put in place from a liability perspective, that Pokémon tracking will no longer make players trespass in illegal or dangerous areas, but I’m not sure if I buy that as a motivating factor.

The Verdict

I am really pleased about the customization add-on along with the transfer button and some tweaking will definitely make trainers but, the way Niantic took out the three-step glitch is really weird for me and to an extent, totally absurd. 

Honestly I wish they HAD removed it because right now it's practically mocking you. Like "HA HA there's something rare outside! where? Who knows!! Could be absolutely anywhere within like a 200m radius you have TEN MINUTES TO FIND IT! GO!" IDK if I would use pokeradar if it was GONE. But you better fucking believe when it says there's a dratini nearby I whip that right out. Do I look at it when it's weedles? not really. If I didn't know anything was there I wouldn't be so tempted but THE STUPID POKERADAR WON'T SHOW ANYTHING. Just take the whole damn thing away let pokemon surprise me it would be more fun then frustration of unfindable rares and boredom of wondering if you should go for a walk but just weedles are nearby.

However, the hopeful player in me wants to believe that this is a temporary measure, that eliminating footsteps is just a stop-gap until the system can be fixed for good. That may be a ways off, but I have to believe Niantic knows that the game was much, much better when it was possible to track specific spawns of Pokémon in the game itself, when players didn’t have to rely on outside sites to help them. But now, with no in-game tracking, and out-of-game tracking sites being targeted for shutdown, players are just supposed to wander in circles and hope they get lucky, I guess. This bug-turned-feature has ruined one of the most engaging parts of the game, and I really hope they’re trying to develop a way to bring it back at a later date. They would be crazy not to, and I wouldn’t blame some players for quitting now that tracking seems like it’s been killed altogether. It really was the best part of Pokémon GO, in my view.

Of course, it would be nice to hear anything from Niantic directly, but they really do not seem to enjoy sharing their intentions publicly. The patch notes for this update could fit into a handful of tweets, and there has been no further explanation regarding the decision-making about the footstep removal, despite the fact that’s what the fanbase is dying to know.

If this is a stop-gap measure in search of a long-term fix, I can understand the footprint removal. If this is simply how the game works now, and there is no plan to bring tracking back, I think that’s pretty inexcusable.

So no more tracking guides for now, it seems. If your game says Pokémon are near you, just start wandering around and hope for the best. For those who never got to experience the joy of hunting down an ultra-rare Pokémon in real life, I am sorry you missed out on the best feature of this game. We can only hope it returns at some point, but if that ever happens, it’s not going to be for a good long while now.