I’ve played Pokemon Go on a near daily basis since its release just over a year ago. As someone living in the heart of a tourist town, I have zero issue playing: I can take a five-minute stroll down the road, spin 12 Pokestops and get enough Pokeballs to last me, stop by a local gym, take part in an impromptu 12-person raid battle, and be home with a couple of Pokemon catches under my belt. Resources, Pokemon, and access to gyms, raids and raid battles are all easily within my grasp.
When Legendary Pokemon were first introduced as raid battles at gyms around a week ago, I had no problem catching them. Within 3 days I had both a Lugia and an Articuno. I have no problem being an effective Pokemon Trainer in Pokemon Go, because I live in a heavily populated tourist town. My job sees me regularly commute to other heavily populated tourist towns. I am in the position to be the very best, like no-one ever was. I have every currently available Gen 1 Pokemon, including region exclusives, and am working hard on Gen 2.
Still, I’ve recently been feeling like the people most thematically tied to the idea of a Pokemon adventure are being totally shafted by Niantic’s handling of Pokemon Go.
Niantic have decided that Legendary Pokemon in Pokemon Go should be shut away behind time-locked raids. What this means is that in order to catch an Articuno, you needed to wait for a gym to spawn an Articuno raid battle, reach that raid battle location within two hours, gather a team of ten or more players in that same physical location who have all been playing the game regularly enough to have a competitive team on hand, and defeat Articuno. Once you beat it, you had an incredibly low chance of catching it. If you failed to catch it, you had to repeat this cycle over.
Worst of all, Articuno was only available as a raid battle for one week. If you didn’t catch one during that week, you didn’t catch one. There are currently no plans for you to ever be able to catch one.
For me this was no problem, finding 12 players to take on a raid with on short notice was a pinch. For trainers living in small towns, rural areas, and away from big touristy cities this can be practically impossible. If they were available forever in raid spawn rotations, these trainers might actually be able to catch them down the line on holiday or similar, but being limited to a week of spawns means most rural players will never catch a legendary of their own.
This sucks, because this is hugely antithetical to the whole idea of Pokemon as an aspirational adventure story. Pokemon is a story about exploration, about going off the beaten path, and about the wilderness being home to great rewards. Legendary Pokemon are hidden away, off the beaten track, appearing as and when they please. Everyone has a chance at stumbling upon one if they’re lucky enough.
This has been a problem for a while with Pokemon Go. Rural trainers have the least ability to access items, to find new Pokemon, to catch legendaries, to train, to meet other trainers, to take part in Pokemon Go. While these issues have existed since the game launched, the way Legendary Raids were handled has just hammered home that kids wandering through forests and exploring fields near their home will never be granted the chance to be the Pokemon trainers they were always destined to be.
Niantic, please give players a different way to catch these Legendaries. Rural trainers deserve the chance to be the very best too.