No mobile game has evolved from its initial iteration as much as Pokémon Go has, and Niantic has leveled up the game yet again with the addition of quests. After a weekend of tackling dozens of missions, the game’s attempt at rekindling my passion and nostalgia has been super effective – and not just by taunting me with the chance to catch Mew.
Internet sleuths had recently uncovered references to missions and quests in Pokémon Go update files, and on Friday those missions went live. In the first ever real narrative present in the game, Professor Willow calls you on your phone (presumably using your preferred video messaging app) and enlists your help completing research projects for him. These research tasks are broken up into two categories: Field Research and Special Research.
Field Research tasks can be obtained when you spin any Pokéstop – you cannot obtain them at Gyms. You can have up to three active Field Research tasks at a given time, and their difficulty in my experience runs from simple chores like catching three flying Pokémon to challenging tests of skill and strategy such as making three great throws in a row.
Upon completion of a task, you earn a reward which can vary from berries to Pokéballs to stardust or even a Pokémon encounter. The reward for the task completion is presented upfront, with the exception of the encounter reward which won’t reveal which Pokémon you’ll encounter ahead of time.
Even more rewarding are the Special Research tasks. These present themselves as more of a core storyline. These are assigned to you by Professor Willow directly and offer superior rewards. The (presumably) first of many Special Research quests is titled ‘A Mythical Discovery’ in which you help the Professor track down Mew – and hopefully get to capture him in the process.
These Special Research tasks are presented in stages, with you needing to complete three specific steps before receiving your reward and moving on to the next stage. I’m currently on stage 3 of 8 and have been pleased with the rewards I’ve received thus far. They’ve included things like incubators, TM’s, Incense, and XP. These rewards are much closer to what you would expect to win from a raid.
Each day that you complete any research task you get an in-game stamp. When you get your seventh stamp you’re rewarded a Research Breakthrough from Professor Willow. This first tantalizing box is tempting me with stardust, a wild Pokémon encounter, and other mystery items.
Overall, I’m enjoying the addition of specific challenges and storytelling to the game. For many trainers who have grown tired of the grind or who were just looking for something a bit more, this new system is a breath of fresh air to a game that’s been characterized as stale or underachieving.
Player vs player battles are still missing as is the ability to trade Pokémon, but I think the prevalence of cheating tools and bots in the game is more responsible for their absence than any actual limitation. But Niantic is moving in the right direction with smart game mechanics like these new missions and player-centric limited events like monthly Community Days. If these positive additions to the game are any indication of what else they’ve got planned on their roadmap, then I’m happy to come along for the ride.