Back in July, we were introduced to a game that changed our lives. This was a game that made one of our biggest childhood dreams a reality. That game was Pokémon GO, an augmented reality game that made our dream of going on the journey to be a Pokémon master a reality. The game wasn’t officially launched in Sri Lanka. But that didn’t stop us from downloading the game unofficially and playing it.
Weeks passed and the Pokémon GO community slowly grew. Trainers from all walks of life were introduced to the amazing world of Pokémon. All of us went on an adventure every day. All of us wanted to be the very best like no one ever was. To catch them was our real test. To train them was our cause. We traveled across the land, searching far and wide. With each Pokémon, we understood the power that’s inside. Pokémon, we knew was our destiny.
But then, it was all taken away from us.
Niantic – the developers of Pokémon GO made the decision to deny access to all regions that they had not officially launched the game in. And so we were banished from the world of Pokémon. For months, we watched as the rest of the world. We patiently waited, clinging onto hope and commenting on the Pokémon GO Facebook page asking when it would come to Sri Lanka. All we got was silence.
Months had passed and much of the community had given up hope on Pokémon GO ever launching in Sri Lanka. Many that joined in purely out of the initial hype had disappeared. What remains are the ones dedicated to being the best like no one ever was. Those of us that dreamed as kids of becoming Pokémon masters. We went on with our daily lives but never failed to check the notifications when someone posted in the Pokémon GO Facebook groups.
Finally, almost five months later, our prayers were answered. At midnight on the 14th of December 2016, Pokémon GO officially launched in Sri Lanka. Our journey in the world of Pokémon has resumed. But this world has changed since we last visited it. Here’s a complete list of changes that have been made to Pokémon GO.
1. You can now customize your avatar
Previously, if you wanted to change how your character looked, you’d have to make a new account. Now you can change your character’s clothes, face or even gender. All you have to do is go to your profile and tap on the menu. There you’ll see an option called customize. Tap on this option and you can customize every aspect of your avatar’s appearance.
2. The system to find nearby Pokémon has been overhauled
Back when we began our journey to be Pokémon masters, it was challenging (to say the least) to find nearby Pokémon. The only indication we had was a number of footsteps, which told us only an estimate of how far away a Pokémon was from us. Today, the system has been overhauled and it’s significantly easier to find nearby Pokémon.
A list of nearby Pokémon will appear in the bottom right corner. Tap on that and you’ll see the entire list of nearby Pokémon. But instead of footsteps, you’ll now find an image of the nearest Pokestop where the Pokémon is. But that’s not all. If you select a particular Pokémon you want, then it shows you the number of footsteps that indicate how far away the Pokémon is from your current location. If you tap on the footsteps indicator, it’ll direct you to a location where you can find the Pokémon.
3. You can get a second opinion about your Pokémon
You have a lot of Pokémon. Picking the best one for battle is a tough decision that you need to think about. To make that decision easier, you can now get an opinion from your team leader. In case you’re lost, after you hit Level 5, you get the choice of joining one of three teams: Valor, Mystic, and Instinct. After you join a team, you can ask your team leader to share their opinion of your Pokémon. All you have to do so is select your Pokémon and tap the appraise option in the sub-menu.
4. You can have a buddy Pokémon
One of the biggest changes to Pokémon GO is to give you the ability to select a single Pokémon as your buddy. This buddy Pokémon will appear next to your character in the profile screen. Certain Pokémon like Eevee and Pidgey’s will appear on your shoulder. But that’s not all.
As you walk with your buddy, you’ll be able to obtain candy for that Pokémon and help it evolve. The exact distance you have to walk to obtain candy for each Pokémon varies. To select a Buddy Pokémon, head over to your Profile settings. Then tap on the Buddy option in the sub-menu to select a Buddy Pokémon.
5. Pokémon GO Plus
Back at launch, Niantic announced that Pokémon GO would also work with a wearable device. That wearable was the Pokémon GO Plus. This is a small device that lets you play Pokémon GO, on the move without you having to look at your smartphone. It connects to your phone using Bluetooth and informs you of any important events. Such events include the appearance of nearby Pokémon and Pokestops. Pokémon GO Plus is compatible with both Android and iOS and costs $34.99.
6. Color coded eggs
One of the ways you can obtain Pokémon in the game is to hatch eggs. There are three types of eggs in Pokémon. These three types of eggs are defined by the distance you have to walk to hatch these eggs. There’s the 2KM eggs, 5KM eggs, and 10KM eggs. The longer you have to walk, the more powerful the Pokémon will be that you hatch from the egg. Previously, every egg irrespective of distance looked the same. Now you’ll find that the different types of eggs are color coded.
7. Gym battles have changed
The way gyms work in the game has slightly changed. Now you can take six Pokémon with you to battle at friendly Gyms. However, the strength of these Pokémon might be reduced for the duration of this battle. Things have also changed after conquering rival gyms.
You will now find that there’s a brief period of time where only you will be able to place a Pokémon in the open Gym. Additionally, the amount of Prestige a rival Gym loses when you defeat a regular Gym member has increased. Conversely, the amount of Prestige gained by training at a friendly Gym has now been lowered.
You now get a bonus for the first Pokémon you capture and Pokestop you visit on a day. Do this every day for an entire week and you’ll receive a larger bonus. So if you’re a regular player then you’re likely to level up slightly faster now.
9. New Pokémon
One of the biggest change to Pokémon GO in recent times is the inclusion of Generation II Pokémon. However, Niantic hasn’t included the full roster of Generation II Pokemon. At the moment, the game only features seven baby Pokémon from this generation.
These Pokémon are Cleffa, Igglybuff, Pichu, Togepi, Elekid, Magby and Smoochum. And the only way to obtain them is to hatch eggs. Talk about a challenge. Hopefully, we’ll see more Generation II Pokémon in the wild soon. Oh, and did we mention you can now find the iconic Pokémon Ditto now as well?
10. In-game events
Another massive change we’ve seen in Pokémon GO is in-game events. Many of these events so far have coincided with real-world holidays. The first in-game event began on October 26th and ended on November 1st. This event celebrating Halloween saw increased rewards can better chances of encountering some of the spookier ghost-type Pokémon in the game.
Another similar event was held celebrating Thanksgiving from November 23rd to November 30th. This event too saw increased rewards. And coincidentally, Pokémon GO is now celebrating a Christmas themed in-game event. This event will be ongoing until December 29th and features a special Christmas themed Pikachu.
It’s a whole new world we live in
Five months since its launch, Pokémon GO has finally come to Sri Lanka. It’s nothing short of a Christmas miracle. Once again, we resume our journeys to be the very best like no one ever was. Yet, the game has changed significantly since we last saw it. It’s a whole new world that we live in. But we still got to catch them all, to be the best that we can be.