- Niantic missed the mark with Zygarde’s unique gimmick from Pokemon Sun and Moon by tethering it to the new Routes feature in Pokemon GO.
- The introduction of Routes in Pokemon GO has been met with criticism due to issues with navigation and rewards, as well as its connection to Zygarde.
- Pokemon GO should have stayed true to the original concept of Zygarde’s cell collection in Sun and Moon, instead of complicating it with Routes.
The latest addition of Zygarde to Pokemon GO has been met with a mixed reception after Niantic tethered this to its new Routes feature and ultimately missed the point of the Legendary Pokemon’s unique gimmick from Pokemon Sun and Moon. While Zygarde first debuted in Gen 6 alongside Xerneas and Yveltal in Pokemon X and Y, it wasn’t until Gen 7 that the Legendary Pokemon would receive an all-new gimmick that grabbed players’ interests. As Niantic is currently working through bringing Gen 7’s Pokemon to Pokemon GO, it had the opportunity to capitalize on Zygarde’s cell-collecting gimmick thanks to the game’s real-world exploration.
Yet instead of directly lifting Sun and Moon‘s cell collection side quest and working it into the Pokemon GO format, Niantic has introduced its own all-new feature as its own method of acquiring Zygarde cells. Pokemon GO‘s Routes were met with criticism from players even beyond its links to Zygarde, as many reported issues they’ve encountered from in-game navigation and rewards. Many are just as unhappy with how Routes have been tied to Zygarde, leaving players frustrated by the temperamental design and increasing inaccessibility of certain Pokemon, all of which ultimately fumbles the original gimmick of Zygarde from Gen 7.
Pokemon GO’s Routes had Good Intentions but Bad Execution
Despite all its faults, Pokemon GO has always aimed to reward its players by getting them out and about in the real world. After all, before Pokemon GO there was Ingress, a former game from Niantic that has the same basic premise of encouraging players to be active and get rewarded for it. It’s no surprise that it took the popularity and reputation of Pokemon for Niantic’s odd game design to go mainstream, with Pokemon GO becoming one of the most downloaded mobile games of all time. With this in mind, Pokemon GO‘s new Routes are just another extension of Niantic’s goal for players.
However, the way Pokemon GO‘s Routes work in-game and what they can offer players is just the latest in Niantic’s history of good intentions with poor execution. For example, Pokemon GO adapted to Covid-19 and global lockdowns by adding new features like Remote Raid passes or Team GO Rocket balloons, but it received backlash when it attempted to remove these; many believed they improved Pokemon GO‘s accessibility and engagement. Similarly, while Routes encourages players to physically explore the world, it does add new limitations to the Pokemon GO experience, such as how to complete Routes or who gets to create new ones.
Pokemon GO Should Have Stayed True to Sun and Moon
Zygarde cells only being obtainable via completing Pokemon GO Routes, not only contends with the feature’s current issues, but it detracts from the original concept behind the Sun and Moon gimmick. When Zygarde’s new forms were introduced in Sun and Moon, players could collect cells by finding them throughout the region in hidden locations and not as rewards for completing in-game tasks or challenges. As a result, Pokemon GO has dismissed Zygarde’s previous treasure hunt of cell collection for a more complicated alternative that’s virtually identical to collecting Pokemon candy by walking with a trainer’s Buddy.
What compounds this for players who are frustrated with Pokemon GO‘s new Routes is that linking these to Zygarde was both unnecessary and more convoluted than it needed to be. Other options already exist within Pokemon GO‘s mechanics that Zygarde’s cell collection could have utilized, such as an adaptation of the Rocket Radar’s functionality that instead scans for nearby cells and directs the player towards them. Just like in Sun and Moon, Pokemon GO could have stayed true to the original Zygarde cell-collecting by letting players find cells as they explore the world naturally and still maintain accessibility for everyone.
Pokemon GO is available now for Android and iOS devices.
MORE: Pokemon GO’s Buddy System Should Take Notes From a Gen 6 Mechanic
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