The augmented-reality madness of Pokémon GO just fixed its greatest fault by adding something of a story, along with quests, to the game. So now you can do more in Pokémon GO than just slavishly obey the “Gotta Catch ‘Em All!” slogan by catching Pokémon over and over again.
On Monday, Pokémon GO developer Niantic announced via the Pokémon GO Blog that “It’s Time to Conduct Important Pokémon Research!” Working in concert with Professor Willow, players can now engage in Field Research and Special Research that will eventually lead them straight to the beloved Legendary Pokémon Mew.
Starting later this week, players will be able to receive small in-game goals in the form of Field and Special Research that will offer “a variety of useful items and even encounters with certain Pokémon” as rewards.
The whole thing is coordinated by Professor Willow, who outside of the initial welcome to the game and ensuing tutorials, we haven’t really seen much of at all.
Spinning PokéStops will start Field Research tasks “that include discovering and catching certain Pokémon or engaging with battles,” according to the Pokémon GO Blog. Most Field Research quests involve goals like “Catch a Dragon-type Pokémon” or “Win 3 Gym battles.” Rewards seem pretty basic, like extra Candy or Potions.
They do promise scalable rewards for more difficult tasks, and like with many mobile games, it looks like you can skip specific Research challenges if you really want to.
The Special Research for Professor Willow looks a bit more involved, granting XP and gradual progress towards more important goals. With enough Stamps (you can only earn 1 Stamp per day), you can also unlock a Research Breakthrough, which almost definitely will involve encounters with Rare and/or Legendary Pokémon. This is where players will eventually be able to meet Mew for the first time ever in Pokémon GO.
All in all, this latest update offers some much-needed progress towards making Pokémon GO something worth caring about. The experience itself is fun and physically engaging, but outside of the initial obsession with the game’s team leaders, Pokémon GO has always been a shallow experience for long-time fans of the franchise looking for something more substantive.
Research is a step firmly in the right direction, but it’s still the same kind of repetitive daily goals you see in just about every mobile game on the market. Despite that, Niantic has an opportunity here to gain some momentum that could lead to them actually telling an interesting story in Pokémon GO.
Wouldn’t that be cool?
Field and Special Research will be released on Pokémon GO sometime “later this week.”