Pokémon Go’s gameplay pandemic changes are changing soon

Over the past year, developer Niantic rolled out a series of gameplay tweaks to Pokémon Go designed to make the mobile game more playable under quarantine conditions. Many of those changes were a direct response to the coronavirus pandemic, letting players enjoy the gotta-catch-’em-all game from home. On Monday, Niantic said in a blog post that it plans to remove or change some of those bonuses, while also adding new gameplay tweaks and retaining others.

The changes will roll out first in the United States and New Zealand, where new cases of the coronavirus are on the decline and practically nonexistent, respectively. (New Zealand has had less than 3,000 reported cases.) Niantic said players in the U.S. and New Zealand will start seeing changes at the end of July, after this year’s Pokémon Go Fest wraps, and that it will roll out those updates to other territories when it’s safe to do so.

Many of the changes seem designed to encourage Pokémon Go players to get out and about, and for restoring the game’s in-person events (like EX Raids). Here’s what’s changing in the coming months.

New Exploration Bonuses

Players will soon:

  • Receive up to two free Raid Passes per day from spinning Gym Photo Discs
  • Benefit from increased Incense effectiveness while moving
  • Be guaranteed gifts when spinning PokéStops so long as they have not reached their maximum gift inventory
  • Receive 10x bonus XP from spinning a PokéStop for the first time

Changing/Removed Bonuses

During the pandemic, Incense effectiveness was boosted to attract Pokémon more frequently to players’ locations. It will soon revert to its original level of attraction when players are stationary, but will have increased effectiveness while players are moving, Niantic says.

Players could also reach PokéStops and Gyms from farther away during the pandemic, but Niantic plans to revert that change too. The developer said that distance “may be increased during future events and as part of certain features.”

Niantic also plans to decrease the number of Gifts that Buddy Pokémon deliver to players. It is currently boosted so that players get up to five gifts at once up to three times per day, but players will soon see reduced frequency.

Bonuses That Will Remain

Some gameplay changes that “resonated well” with players will continue, Niantic said, “for the foreseeable future.”

  • Incense duration will remain at 60 minutes
  • No walking requirement for GO Battle League
  • You can challenge any Trainer remotely with a QR Code, and the requirement to battle with friends remotely has been lowered to Good Friends
  • The maximum number of Gifts you can carry in your Item Bag at a time will remain at 20
  • Trainers will be able to open up to 30 Gifts per day, up from the previous 20
  • You will continue to receive three times the Stardust and XP for your first Pokémon catch of the day

Niantic said it plans to reveal additional details about changes to Pokémon Go, including how Remote Raids are “evolving,” in the coming months.

Polygon – All

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