Pokémon Go was, as you surely remember, an enormous hit in the Summer of 2016. It seemed like everyone everywhere was playing—myself included. Parks and all kinds of outdoor areas were filled with people walking to hatch eggs and running to catch highly-coveted Pokémon. As the months passed, players began to drop the game, slowly losing interest. This year, it is much less likely to bump into someone who’s playing the game like you are. (I still play when I have the time, but even I don’t get much chance to open the game.) Recently, though, Pokémon Go has popped back up in the news for a very strange reason: its connection to Russian meddling. Just last week, CNN reported that a campaign with Russian ties used Pokémon Go in order to cause problems among people during an intense election cycle. Hearing that the Pokémon-hunting game was used to influence U.S. politics is certainly an interesting reason for the game to show up in the news again. But it also creates a great opportunity to ask—what has Pokémon Go been up to since you last played? Here are some of the new things you might find if you haven’t played in a while.
Raids take place in Gyms. Players can team up to fight Raid Bosses. There are special prizes to be had if the Boss is defeated. The Bosses have varying levels of difficulty. There is a time limit, which makes things a little trickier, and you use special Premier Balls to try to catch the Boss. Raids are a good reason to team back up with other players in your area—to join the team, you must, of course, be close to the gym.
Everyone was waiting for Legendary Pokémon, and some have been released over the past months. Over the past few months, Trainers have been able to add Legendaries like Mewtwo and Raikou to their Pokedexes. These Legendaries are caught by completing certain special raids while that specific Pokémon is still available in-game. Legendary Pokémon are very difficult to catch, so if you open the game back up while one is available, be prepared to work at catching one.
Pokémon Go has included themed events for some time, including over Christmas. But in the past months, there have been more fun events. What is great about a lot of these events is they often give a chance to catch a special Pikachu who is dressed for the event. For instance, there was a special Christmas Pikachu, a special Pikachu for the anniversary event in July, and a Pikachu wearing a party hat for the Pokémon Day event. These events also add special features like an increased chance of catching certain kinds of Pokémon or hatching eggs more quickly. If you’ve missed some special versions of Pikachu over the months, don’t worry—you’ll have more chances. And Pokémon Go has just launched this year’s Halloween event, with more candy to get and a chance to catch Pikachu in a costume.
One interesting change over the months has been the addition of evolution items. Some Pokémon are able to be further evolved by using a special item. There are several different evolution items, and you need the right one for each Pokémon before you can evolve them. This has added an extra challenge to completing a Trainer’s Pokedex.
A while back, the game added Pokestop bonuses that keep Trainers playing on a daily basis. Players can get a bonus each day for the first Pokestop of the day. Even better, players get an extra special bonus if they visit at least one Pokestop every day for a full week. Getting this special bonus can be especially important, since this is a really good way to get an evolution item.
There have, of course, been many other additions and changes over the months. It may seem like not many people are playing anymore, but actually, the game is still widely used. In July, Ars Technica wrote that the game still had about five million users every day. It may not be as widely played as before, but it’s still being played by many, and the game has evolved to keep players interested. With upcoming events and past additions in mind, it might be a good time to check the game out again.