Monday, August 01, 2016

Pokémon Go Gyms

When Star Wars: The Old Republic was announced – wait, don’t go away, this has a point! – they talked about a system in which you and your friends might conquer a base, the rival faction might conquer it back, and you (or other people) would repeat. I envisioned many things from this promise, but unfortunately, none of what I pictured from that claim made it into the game.
I say this not to criticize a game that has nothing to do with this topic (though if people are interested I will write more on my experience with The Old Republic) but because Pokémon Go meets my hopes and expectations for this system in every way.

For those who aren’t familiar with Pokémon Go, I’ll explain what I’m talking about. Players who have reached level 5 have the option to choose a team. The teams have a symbolic meaning, reinforced by their colors, but that’s not important right now other than the fact that they are Red, Blue, and Yellow. To conquer a gym, you must first find a gym that is owned by a different team. There will generally be 1-4 Pokémon stationed there, although one near my house has 9 (due in part to the extremely powerful Dragonite that acts as Gym Leader). Using your team of six, you battle the gym in a Punch-Out simulator complete with Pokémon standard type matchups. If you win, you place your own Pokémon to guard the gym, and the cycle begins anew with other members of your own team being able to help you in the initial fight and to help guard the gym.

This system is built for a constantly dynamic gym experience. Very rarely does the same team remain in control of a gym for a twenty-four hour period. At first look, this would appear strange in a setting such as mine where Team Valor is mainly known for driving around in cars with mostly C.P. (Combat Power) 1800 or higher ‘mons while the other teams tend to be much lower and more frequently on foot.
What makes this so dynamic is a feature that is very similar to the main series Pokémon games. While I mention that very few gyms defeat enough challengers to reach level 6 or higher (meaning they can be guarded by that many ‘mons), most gyms have significantly less than 6 team members. This means that the attacking player, who almost always has a full team of six, does not need to be as powerful as the Gym Leader or even the weaker ‘mons guarding the Gym. Add in the dodging aspect and type matchups, and even a significantly weaker team in the hands of a skilled trainer can conquer a gym. The catch, of course, being that they cannot guarantee they will hold the gym.

This system of the gyms constantly changing hands does a lot to even the playing field. While I may not be powerful enough to conquer a certain gym on my way to work, it may change hands several times during that shift and leave it open for me to take it on the way home. Considering that you only need to conquer a gym once every 20 hours to get the in-game rewards (rather than needing to hold it for the entire 20 hours) this allows lower-leveled players to still participate in this system (not to mention the emotional benefits of besting a C.P. 1600 gym with your C.P. 1200 team). This ensures that there will always be an opening for new players to get involved in the game, which makes a major difference when looking at the game’s longevity.
For more of my articles on Pokémon Go, make sure to follow Fantasy & SciFi Lovin’ and comment with what you’d like to see. If you’re interested in my thoughts on Pokémon Sun and Moon, head on over to Insomniatic and get involved in that discussion. If you want to commission a specific article from me (or just to help me study in Spain next summer) you can also check out my GoFundMe campaign.

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