Pokemon Go Fest 2020 will be a virtual event this year because o the coronavirus pandemic. (Niantic)
When is Pokemon Go Fest 2020? It’s happening July 25 and 26 and will feature 75 different pocket monsters.
When the coronavirus pandemic began overtaking the globe, Niantic faced a daunting task. The real-life health crisis cut at the very core of “Pokemon Go.” The popular title is based on real-life exploration. It nudges players to go venture into their community and interact with others.
With stay-at-home orders keeping players to stay indoors, it forced the company to change the game amid the pandemic. They’ve found success by making more Pokemon available, bumping up the effectiveness of power-ups, starting the first season of Go Battle League and adding remote raids.
A bigger test will arrive with Niantic’s introduction of a virtual Pokemon Go Fest. For the first time, Niantic’s signature event will take place globally with no single location. Previously, the multiday festival was held in Chicago, Dortmund and Yokohama. With Niantic making it virtual, it gives all players a chance at grabbing highly sought-after shiny Pokemon and rare ones not often found in the wild.
Pokemon Go Fest 2020 will run from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the days of July 25 and 26. Players can attend both days and I recommend doing both because the event’s narrative is set over the weekend.
“Pokémon GO Fest 2020 has been designed from the ground up for Trainers to play wherever they are safe,” Niantic wrote. “For example in some regions, Trainers may feel it is best to play with their families in their living room or backyard while others may feel okay going on a solo or socially distanced walk in their neighborhood. Whenever Trainers are playing Pokémon GO during Pokémon GO Fest, we encourage them to be aware of their surroundings and follow laws and local guidelines.”
Before that though, players will find a three-week lead-up that’s built around challenges. If players can work together and complete these Timed Research lines, they’ll unlock additional Pokemon appearances during the event.
That means Pokemon that appear on the event poster such as Gible, Seviper and Zangoose and their potential shiny variants could potentially be locked behind these challenges. It looks like trainers and their teams — Mystic, Valor and Instinct — will have to work together on this one.
Reality blending is a feature that will be available before the start of Pokemon Go Fest 2020. (Niantic)
As for Day 1 of Pokemon Go Fest 2020, players will find five rotating habitats themed around fire, water, grass, battle and friendship. The Pokemon will change with the habitat every hour and each one will arrive twice on Day 1.
On top of this, players will have to work together in the Global Challenge Arena to unlock Go Fest-exclusive bonuses that activate for the remainder of the hour. From what I’ve seen, the bonuses could include things such as rare candy being in gifts, and individually, players can get special virtual stickers exclusive to attendees. The challenges themselves may require trainers to catch all fire Pokemon or other comparable tasks. Here’s hoping everyone can complete the tasks as soon as possible.
The second day is clouded in mystery but Niantic says it is “something very different.” It will include another Special Research story so players should expect a mythic Pokemon that arrives with each Go Fest. If past events are any indication, players will find Unown that spell out a clue to the identity of this Pokemon.
Michael Steranka, director of marketing and global live events, said there will be 75 unique Pokemon to discover.
With the potential of catching so many pocket monsters, I’d personally recommend trainers to winnow down collections and free up 200 spaces for rare and shiny Pokemon.
To help with organization and improve the experience, Niantic is introducing two new features to the game. The first will arrive before Pokemon Go Fest and that’s reality blending that helps create a more immersive augmented reality experience. It allows Pokemon to hid behind objects such as trees to make the presence of Pokemon and photographs more realistic.
The second is Niantic Social. It is touted as the single place where players can find friends online and find out if they’re playing “Pokemon Go.” It also shows stats such as kilometers walked, which may create healthy competition between players. From what I saw, Niantic Social will also let trainers know which friends have sent gifts and opened gifts. This will be huge for those who rely on presents and lucky friendships in the game.
In previous Go Fests, Niantic set up team lounges so that trainers can take breaks. That same amenity is returning to the event albeit virtually. Niantic is setting up a microsite that will let players interact with others and participate in giveaways. In the past, these lounges are where players can earn tickets they could redeem for rare T-shirts and other goodies. It will be interesting to see how Niantic handles that in a virtual space full of thousands of people.
Pokemon Go Fest 2020 T-shirts will be available at the Pokemon Center website while supplies last. (Niantic)
To add a real world feel to the event, Niantic is selling merchandise. They’ll be selling items that include the T-shirt for the event. It’s red with white lettering that has symbols that are familiar to fans. Niantic said the T-shirts will be available while supplies last and they include stickers and a paper Pikachu visor.
For those who are into do-it-yourself projects, Niantic will be offering a free downloadable and printable papercraft gift set. It looks like the presents players send to each other in game. If players build it in real life, perhaps they add more magic to the day.
Unfortunately, not all past features will make it to this virtual edition of Pokemon Go Fest. Niantic wrote: “At this time, Trading won’t be a part of the core Pokemon GO Fest 2020 gameplay activities. Remote Raid Battles will be a part of the event, however, which can serve to virtually bring Trainers together.”
Lastly, Niantic says it will be keeping some bonuses introduced during the coronavirus pandemic. One of those is the increase to gift storage. It will permanently be doubled at 20. Other changes such as walking requirement for Go Battle League will return, but Niantic said it would be phased in gradually.
“We do some day plan on bringing back the walking requirement but will do so in a way that’s gradual and makes sense for the feature and for the community,” said Matt Slemon, senior product manager.
Players can buy tickets in the “Pokemon Go” app now. It will be in the shop and upon purchase, they’ll receive a pop-up indicating the ticket has been bought. A few days before the event, trainers will receive a medal for the festival and on Day 1, they’ll get a Special Research that kicks off festivities. Players can complete the tasks at any time even after the event.