Pokémon Go held its big annual Go Fest event this weekend with fun games and some great storytelling flourishing. In the game and in the real world, the developer Niantic pulled a number of peas for the future of the game, and seemed to avoid the technical snafus that was seen earlier when millions of people have logged on to play at the same time.
Go Fest 2021 was apparently about Meloetta, said the mythical Pokémon to inspire to music. The first day of the event was spent putting together a band of Pokémon creatures via a Choose Your Own Adventure Style experience that called Meloetta captive at the end.
Day two of the event, on Sunday, was apparently just about raiding ̵
In Chicago, home to the infamous original Go Fest and many subsequent annual meetings before the pandemic, Niantic began livestreaming of a huge and very real 50-foot egg in Maggie Daley Park. A countdown timer began when the egg – apparently dropped in via one of the game’s portals – began to glow.
When it hatched a few hours later, a small number of players who had applied for free tickets to gather nearby were treated to animated raid fights projected from the egg, and heralded the arrival of the second day’s mass raid fights around the world.
Dag Tos’ story in the game then began the next morning with Pokémon Go’s hunky Professor Willow announcing players the arrival of Hoopa, the next mythical creature, who was supposedly behind the appearance of today’s many legendary creatures. Some of this had leaked, but for most players it came as a complete surprise.
Over Go’s first day, players had completed global challenges to unlock the next steps in this story, which will see Hoopa interrupt time (release the shiny versions of fossil creatures Cranidos and Shieldon) and space (making the traditionally region-exclusive Heracross available). globally and in its shining form for the first time), before you probably appeared yourself.
Go Fest 2021 was not perfect – fans found Shiny Unown so rare that there were discussions about it being accidentally made inaccessible. Finding a shiny stranger was certainly tougher than last year, and no change in the chances of appearing had previously been announced. And on day two, they reported without a reliable raiding crew that they struggled to organize raids within the shorter time limits. Having a physical group of players to raid with, or a friends list of people willing to invite you to raid remotely, felt necessary.
Overall, Go Fest 2021 was probably the most refined ticket event the game has pulled off, with the best bits from last year back along with some clever additions. There were fewer rotating habits to juggle and the collecting challenges were easier than the Kanto Tour. The focus on just catching and raiding was meanwhile less fiddly than last year’s Team Rocket shenanigans. In the end, the players I spoke to seemed happy to get two days of entertainment from this year’s £ 5 ticket price – it’s going to be interesting to see if it holds up in the future.
Personally, I was impressed by the small blooms of the event – the various story lines it tied with changes to the game, the elaborate Pikachu costume designs and the opportunity for players to get spare parts to shop with friends, as well as the special music composed for the event. (99 percent of Pokémon Go fans play with the music turned off, but as an Easter egg, Meloetta as your Pokémon buddy will reactivate your rock / pop choice of the game’s main theme again.) Finally – I completely missed this – another new version of Pokémon Go with lyrics played after the end of the first day for some people. Fans took up the track and it is now available on YouTube. If Pokémon Go ever gets final credits, it’s this song: