In a surprise update, Pokemon GO has announced the introduction of Ultra Wormholes and Ultra Beasts during Pokémon GO Fest 2022, and the inclusion could help strengthen the game’s weak narrative. Pokémon GO Fest 2022 kicked off with numerous Raid Battles, Legendary Encounters, and Special Research tasks to keep players out and exploring. However, the sudden appearance of the Ultra Beast Nihilego on Sunday could indicate the mobile game intends to go in new directions with already existing characters and storylines.
The story of Pokémon GO has always been fronted by the charismatic Professor Willow. While team leaders Candela, Spark, and Blanche were widely popular during the game’s launch, Pokémon GO has made little use of them in Special Research Stories or overarching event storylines in recent years. Because of this, Professor Willow’s bobbing animations and simple dialogue have become staples for event research explanations, and the repetition of Community Days and other global events can make for dull and uninteresting segues into Special Research task lists.
Additionally, Pokémon GO‘s 2022 roadmap changes have created widespread frustration and accessibility issues for players, making the repetitive gameplay and uninteresting tasks even less rewarding to participate in. Community Day durations were cut in half, now offering players only a 3-hour window to participate, while Incense and Remote Raid Passes have been nerfed, negatively impacting a widespread number of players struggling with mobility challenges, rural locations, or obligations that limit play time. These issues, compounded by dull storylines, don’t incentivize players to prioritize the game in their day-to-day routines, making participation more of a chore than a pleasant game experience. However, the introduction of Ultra Beasts could be an opportunity for Niantic to improve on Pokémon GO.
Pokémon GO’s Ultra Wormholes Could Enable New Character Stories
The mystery of Ultra Beasts was introduced in Sun and Moon alongside the mascot Legendary Pokémon Solgeleo and Lunala. Like Legendary Pokémon, Ultra Beasts are unusually powerful and must be encountered in specific circumstances. While it isn’t clear if Ultra Beasts are actually Pokémon, as they come from Ultra Wormholes that bridge gaps to another place in space and time, they can be caught, trained, and used in battle like standard Pokémon species. It isn’t surprising that Ultra Beasts have been introduced into Pokémon GO, as the mobile game recently finished the “Seasons of Alola” long-term event that focused on Sun and Moon-specific Pokémon. However, their debut during GO Fest 2022 was unexpected and included a surprising plot twist involving Pokémon GO’s perky professor.
In a surprise update shared on PokémonGoLive, it was revealed that Ultra Wormholes would begin appearing in Pokémon GO during the Sunday, June 5, 2022, Go Fest events. The first Ultra Beast players will encounter is the Rock/Poison-type Nihilego, who will be available for one day only, from 10 AM to 6 PM. The reveal also introduced a strange new NPC called “Rhi” who appears through the Ultra Wormhole and replaces Professor Willow at his research location. Rhi reveals that the professor has gone missing, and asks the player to assist in investigating the Ultra Wormholes for answers.
The introduction of Rhi, and his place as the leader of the Special Research for the remainder of GO Fest 2022, could be an indication of further upcoming changes to the Pokémon GO narrative. By adding new NPCs, Pokémon GO could begin introducing more complex storylines to the game. Additionally, the changes could mean that existing Pokémon GO characters like Spark, Blanche, and Candela may finally start appearing in Special Research Stories, with the players able to see their team captains as more than just condescending tip-givers when losing battles or appraising Pokémon.
Pokémon GO’s Missing Professor Could Create Openings For New Adventures
It is also possible that Ultra Wormholes in Pokémon GO could be an opening to improve Special Research Stories. For the past several years, the narratives introduced in these research projects have been minimal and driven by checklists of tasks for players to complete. The stories are given through Willow as he bobs about in a repetitive animation in front of his research camp. Because the stories lack any actual depth, it is easier to click through without reading to simply obtain the next task list. However, Professor Willow’s absence could be the perfect catalyst to change these stories up and help grab the attention of players.
The first big change that could come to Pokémon GO’s Special Research Stories is new locations. It is possible we could see Professor Willow in an Ultra Wormhole, or even stuck in a location beyond the Ultra Wormhole, far from his usual base camp. Players could also be taken to Rhi’s home after research in the current world is complete, giving Pokémon GO fans a chance to learn about an alternate reality or place beyond the Pokémon world never explored in the main series games. Both of these options would not only boost gameplay but act as an incentive to bring back players bored of the same basic premise behind each Special Research Story.
It is also possible Pokémon GO could use Professor Willow’s absence as a chance to overhaul how players interact with Special Research Stories. Professor Willow’s base camp and animations could be replaced with actual cutscenes, offering a more immersive look at the camp and creating opportunities for other characters to get involved in the research narratives. These cutscenes could import the player’s avatar, creating a more immersive experience and improving the emotional connection with the NPCs that make up the foundational aspects of Pokémon GO’s story. This could also introduce fun animations for Professor Willow, as well as for Blanche, Candela, and Spark.
While little is currently known about the upcoming events for Pokémon GO or potential updates that could help improve gameplay, changes to the narrative through the Ultra Wormhole expansion would be exceedingly beneficial for the currently repetitive and lackluster gameplay. Creating a more rewarding interface for narrative points in Pokémon GO would help balance some of the negative changes being made, and offer a greater sense of accomplishment when completing Special Research tasks. Hopefully, Pokémon GO‘s Ultra Beast chapter will be just what the game needs to refresh gameplay and update frustratingly outdated mechanics and storylines.
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