New Pokemon Go Features Detailed, First Screens Released

Pokemon Go is coming later this year.

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Following leaked gameplay that emerged at SXSW, The Pokemon Company and developer Niantic have shared new details on Pokemon Go. The upcoming free-to-play game lets you catch Pokemon in the real world, but until now, it wasn't exactly clear how that would work.

As was discussed in the leaked gameplay video, Pokemon Go challenges players to go out into the real world to find and catch Pokemon. Water-type creatures may only appear near bodies of water such as lakes and oceans, The Pokemon Company said.

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Your phone will vibrate if a Pokemon is nearby. At this point, just like in the mainline games, you can attempt to catch the creature using touch-based controls on your phone to throw a Poke Ball. These, and other "special items," can be found at PokeStops in the real world such as "public art installations, historical markers, and monuments," though no specific places were divulged.

Also like the games, as you progress, your Trainer Level will increase. This will let you capture more powerful Pokemon and fill out your inventory with better items.

Here are some other highlights from The Pokemon Company's announcement:

  • Some Pokemon can be evolved if the same species is caught on multiple occasions.
  • Pokemon Eggs, which can be found at PokeStops, will hatch after players walk a certain distance.
  • Players will be able to impress their friends by unlocking achievement medals that are earned by completing a variety of challenges.
  • During gameplay, Pokemon Go players will be encouraged to join one of three teams and engage in Gym battles with other teams.
    • Once they have joined a team, players will have the ability to assign their Pokemon to empty Gyms. Like PokeStops, Gyms can be found at real locations in the world, and because only one Pokémon per player can be placed at a given Gym, team members will need to work together to build a strong defense. A Gym claimed by one team can be challenged by the other two teams.

The Pokemon Company will also offer a portable device called Pokemon Go Plus, a bracelet-like item that connects to your phone via Bluetooth and lets you know when Pokemon are nearby via LED and vibration. Pricing and availability details for the Plus add-on have not yet been announced.

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A Pokemon Go "field test" is coming to Japan soon, though no such test has been announced for the rest of the world.

Pokemon Go, which builds off Niantic's work on the similar, location-based real-world/video game hybrid Ingress, sounds very interesting. It's part of what Niantic is calling its "Real World" gaming platform, which aims to motivate players to go outdoors and explore the real world.

The first official screenshots for Pokemon Go have also been released, showcasing the Pokemon Squirtle and the map. Since Pokemon Go remains in development, its features, design, and overall appearance have not yet been locked in and could change. It also remains to be seen how Pokemon Go will make use of microtransactions, but one possibility is for the items mentioned above.

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