If you have a smartphone or dreams of a pet Pikachu, there’s a good chance you’ve just spent the day outside, trying to catch ‘em all. After a rollout in Australia, New Zealand, and other parts of the world, Niantic and Nintendo’s augmented reality app Pokémon GO was released in the U.S. Wednesday night. Less than 24 hours later, Android and iOS users have become Pokémon trainers, catching their first Pidgeys and Rattatas on the morning commute.
But it’s not all a dream come true. While going out into the big scary world to collect Pokémon and claim the local police station as your Gym is fun, if also hazardous, the app could use some fine tuning. Here are six things we hope make their way into future Pokémon GO updates.
6. A More Diverse Avatar Creator
While the directive of Pokémon GO is to, y’know, to go collect Pokémon, it would be nice if our digital avatars were a bit more customizable. A variety of clothing options, body types, and facial features would be awesome. Not all of us want to look like the same bland anime character in overpriced, casual workout gear.
5. A Better Friends System
As it stands, nobody can make friends or add people they might know in the app. It’s bizarrely isolating, especially since there’s a Google-enabled login and that, with the smartphone base, we could presumably find our friends through a contacts list or the like.
There is a convoluted “Teams” system that appears locked to lower levels, which most people currently are at right now (assuming they have day jobs and/or familial responsibilities). But why can’t my friends and I form our own Team Rocket right now? And why can’t I team up with people around me? The app’s use is predicated on giving up your geo-location, so there has to be some sort of database of where everyone is in relation to one another.
4. Fairer Distribution of PokeStops
PokeStops are one of the key ways Pokemon GO interacts with our real world. These designated areas supply trainers with Pokeballs and eggs that hatch new Pokémon after walking a certain distance.
But because of diversity in infrastructure, some areas are more bountiful than others, which is a little bit unfair. Trainers who live or work in urban neighborhoods will have no problem supplying themselves, but those in more rural areas are without the same opportunities.
3. A Way to Find Pokémon Without Dying (or Pokémon Plus)
This was one of my immediate concerns when Pokémon GO was announced a year ago. We’re already turning into zombies, slaves to our smartphones while walking, and as of now Pokemon GO is speeding up the transformation.
To use the app, we’re forced to pay continuous attention in order to find new Pokémon. The app’s loading screen tells us to be careful and watch out, but that’s hard considering the way the interface is structured.
A unique notification system — maybe one that buzzes or makes a sound — would allow us to be safe and be keep on catching them all, without the risk of getting hit by a bus or falling into a manhole. We could use the Pokemon Plus wrist strap, but that costs money and makes a fashion statement I’d rather not make.
2. Battling Sooner
The way Pokémon GO works is a left turn from the Pokémon games most fans are used to. This game is centered on joining one of three teams — Red, Blue, or Yellow — and going to Gyms (real landmarks you can walk to) claimed by your team, or claiming empty Gyms for your team. You train Pokemon at your team’s Gyms. Combat is locked out until trainers reach Level 5. You can take on enemy Gyms, but you have to evaluate based on each individual Pokémon’s strength which is measured by the level of Command Points (CP).
And that’s all… kind of lame. There’s a solid day and a half of playing before most can become combat ready, and by that point nearby Gyms will already be claimed by enemy teams. The whole point of Pokémon is to participate in legal, guilt-free dog fighting, and it’s odd that this hyped app doesn’t let players engage until they’ve reached an arbitrary level.
1. A Helpful Tutorial
Pokémon GO throws players into the ocean and expects them to swim. None of the app is hard, but it is totally convoluted if you’re going in blind, which most are. I didn’t figure out catching Pokémon properly and what that small green circle meant until hours after I had already been playing.
There is a “Help” section that spells things out, but an interactive tutorial to make sure we know what we’re doing would absolutely be welcome.