Following on from the success of last year's pandemic event (and the follow-up at Christmas) it looks like Go Fest will likely be an annual, worldwide, ticketed event 🎉 Honestly, whilst I understand the immediate financial benefit of signing an exclusive deal with a specific city's tourist board or local government, I feel like a big, global event, accessible to the entire player base, is surely going to net a higher profit margin. I definitely expect IRL events to make a return, but it wouldn't surprise me if the Safari Park events become the city-based ones, rather than big flagships like Go Fest, but I guess we'll see.
At any rate, it feels like this was the best-received event overall, though personally, it was a little disappointing. The first day was the typical Go Fest experience: rotating biomes, boosted shiny rates, special spawns, and event-exclusive quests that culminate in a brand new mythical release. This year saw Sawk and Throh were available globally, alongside the Amazonian regional Chatot, which made its debut outside of South America and tied in nicely with the overarching musical theme (and is just generally a great design and a regional I've been wanting for quite a while, so two thumbs up there 👍👍).
That musical theme was scattered throughout the day, with the main quest revolving around building a band of costumed Pokémon. First up was a new Pikachu (of course), which built on the Red/Green mechanics of the Christmas event, forcing players to pick a route (though the impact here was fairly minimal). This was followed by two more be-hatted branching choices (I went Zigzagoon and Flygon; Alison, as always, did the opposite and picked up Ponyta and Gardevoir). With the band now officially together, the next step was to "battle" the mythical songstress: Meloetta. There were also new background songs composed for the event, plenty of musical puns from Prof. Willow, and of course, a raft of musically-related Pokémon had their shinies released.
All of which was good fun. Add on top some genuinely interesting biomes – stuff like cavern or seaside, rather than simply "grass" or "fire" – and the fact we could actually go outside this year and, in theory, the actual catching/grinding day should have been much better. And in some ways, it was. We went for a walk around Fulham Palace Park, along the south bank, and over the (literally just reopened) Hammersmith Bridge, which took forever thanks to the rate of spawns, but it just didn't seem as exciting somehow? Basically, we were looking for shinies, and they just weren't obliging 😦 Even with the main quest, the catch quests, and some genuinely decent spawn rosters, the lack of shinies made for a slightly wearing day, at times. It was most apparent just after the reset at the midway point, when I suddenly had a streak of luck and began to wonder if the rate had been accidentally nerfed all morning and had now been fixed... except, the luck then dried up and left us a little cold, once more.
Still, it was a beautiful day (if not a tad too warm), we had a good walk, and even managed to sneak in a couple of cold beers out the front of a pub we've been wanting to go to for ages. I think, on paper, this was the best day of any event yet, but it just left me a little meh because of that low shiny luck. Honestly, I think they should do one of two things:
- Just double the rate again to ensure people get loads; yes, some will end up with 40+, but if everyone ends up with 20+ then everyone will think "wow!"
- Or, have some kind of per-player shiny multiplier that increases for each minute a shiny isn't encountered, but the game is active. That should set a baseline and mean that active, grinding players average one shiny per x minutes. If a player is just getting lucky then the multiplier never hits, but those that have been a whole biome without a sniff of golden sparkles suddenly become more likely to get some.
The problem at the moment – for both Niantic and the player base – is that the perceived worth of an event is basically dictated by RNG, and that feels like it'll get old, fast.
That said, day one was still a success in my view, and day two only cemented that. As mentioned elsewhere, we had other things already planned for the Sunday, so our actual play time was quite limited, but as a second-day event it felt like a much better choice. Gone were the Rockets of last year, replaced instead by a really solid raid setup. Similar to the catching day, raids were on an hourly rotation through certain clusters of legendary critters, roughly grouped based on some thematic similarities. If you could reach gyms in person then you had a seemingly endless supply of free passes, but better still was the fact that quest rewards (given for completing raids) gave remote passes. That meant we could effectively "trade" free regular raid passes for remote ones, whilst still benefiting from boosted XP and legendary catches. For our timeframe, we only just managed to get through them all, but coming out of a day with nearly a dozen remote passes (and another dozen new legendaries) felt great. I'd have loved to play more, but felt solidly rewarded either way.
It wasn't all peaches and cream, though. The first two hours were completely locked off to us, because no one was raiding near our house. We were lucky to wind up at a known raid site, where there were dozens of other players in small, organised groups, that we could trail around behind and piggyback off. But still, we were very aware at the start of the day that if you lived somewhere with gyms, but few players, this was going to be deeply frustrating. Sure, you got remote passes, so no matter what you could do a solid chunk of raiding by using online raid communities and tools, but that would be a different kind of value and, ultimately, to get your full money's worth, you needed other people. Not ideal when most of the world is still in lockdowns, nor for those in rural or smaller communities.
Despite that, for the reduced entry price of £5, a dozen raids, a dozen raid passes, just over a dozen shinies, and a day and a half of decent quest lines, well, that's pretty good going. I look forward to seeing what they try next year 👍