Pokemon Go is rolling back Covid changes to refocus on outdoor exploration

Pokemon Go Snap event
(Image credit: Niantic)

Pokemon Go developer Niantic is reintroducing more outdoor exploration to the game.

Pokemon Go players will be seeing a number of exploration mechanics being reintroduced to the game after Niantic had previously removed them due to the COVID-19 pandemic, having planned to revisit them in June 2021. In a blog post (via GamesIndusty), the developer announced that "as some parts of the world are moving toward recovery" it would be introducing some new bonuses for exploration.

The bonuses it plans to introduce for exploration will make playing outside "more rewarding" for the next several months, and include bonuses for traveling to and spinning PokeStops, playing at in-person raids, and getting those steps racked up. Niantic will implement these changes in a staggered way - starting at the end of July 2021, a number of exploration bonuses will become available in the U.S. and New Zealand.

Spinning GYM photo discs will reward players up to two free Raid Passes a day is one bonus while another will increase incense effectiveness by moving around. By spinning PokeStops, Pokemon Go players are guaranteed gifts providing they have spaces for gifts. It's also possible to earn 10x bonus XP by spinning a PokeStop for the first time.

Players will only be able to take advantage of these bonuses until September 1, 2021, although Niantic suggests that some may remain. The bonuses will roll out to other countries when it is safe, and players can keep informed through their Today View.

Niantic will also look into removing or changing bonuses that it introduced in 2020, but won't do so until the end of July. Incense effectiveness while stationary will return to standard effectiveness and increase while moving, 

With the shift to encouraging players to go outside again, the frequency of gifts from Buddy Pokemon will be reduced, while PokeStop and GYM activation distance will revert back to their standard distance but may be increased in the future for events. Pokemon Go Remote Raids will continue to evolve, however, with Niantic looking into how to blend remote play and in-person play while it looks to return EX Raids.

For the features Niantic plans to keep in Pokemon Go, incense duration will carry on being active for an hour and there will be no requirement for walking for Go Battle League. Other trainers can still be challenged remotely through the use of a QR Code and battles with friends will remain at the Good Friends requirement. Players will continue to be allowed to carry a maximum of 20 Gifts at a time and can open 30 Gifts a day while also being allowed to receive three times the Stardust and XP from the first Pokemon catch of the day.

Pokemon Go is currently in a Season of Discovery event that lasts until September, and Regirock is roaming around out there somewhere. The game's latest Community Day was all about Tepig, and for those that like hatching eggs, Niantic was trialing a new feature to let players see what Pokemon they could get.

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Ben Bayliss

I'm partial to an action adventure RPG such as Skyrim and Cyberpunk 2077. I enjoy the occasional open-world driving games and even those skateboarding titles. But really, if any game I'm playing has a photo mode, I'll likely be found snapping pictures of anything and everything.