Clearly last year's global Go Fest was a success, because six months later Niantic have followed it up with a ticketed Kanto event. Focusing on the original slate of 151 Pokémon, the event included the release of all remaining Kanto shinies, including a guaranteed shiny Ditto and a follow-up quest line to catch shiny Mew. Rather than being spread across a whole weekend, it spanned a solid 12 hours on Saturday alone (although various side quests in the game have an eight-day time limit, and the Mew/Ditto quests are continuous). Those hours were split into five themes that rotated through twice, before a two-hour free for all at the end.
Each theme saw a different set of unevolved Pokémon taking the spotlight, grouped roughly based on areas of the original games. These were: Palette Town (starters, bug types, Pidgey, Ratatta, Tangela); Pewter City (rock types and Mt Moon spawns); Cerulean City (water types and Lickitung); Fuchsia City (safari zone spawns, remaining poison types); and Elite Four (everything remaining). Legendaries and regionals could be found in raids, which were constantly spawning throughout the day, and various rarities (Snorlax, Lapras etc.) were both spawning in the wild at low rates and available as quest rewards. Plus, if you missed any, the final free-for-all contained all unevolved spawns for two solid hours.
The main gimmick was that once you'd bought a ticket you had to decide where you were team Green or team Red (the original game "colours"). I was Green, Alison went Red. Depending on which colour you chose, certain Pokémon would be unavailable, whilst others had boosted incense changes and shiny rates. Various catch quests forced you to take part in each of the five themed hours at least once, plus collect your colour's incense spawns, trade for the other spawns you couldn't get, and raid for the legendaries/regionals. In other words, you had to catch every Pokémon from the OG games in a single day... and then evolve them all in the following week (yep).
Luckily, spawn rates were pretty decent and the weather was good, so after a morning spent idling around the flat with incense on, we ate lunch and decided to go for a walk. We haven't been out for a while and didn't really have a fixed destination, so just headed vaguely up the river, detouring away from busy areas or towards specific raids, and somehow made it to Chiswick Gardens. By that point the sun was getting a bit low in the sky and, despite the surprisingly balmy weather, it felt like a good point to turn around. We followed the river straight back to Fulham Palace and on to home, much more quickly than expected.
The walk made all the difference, turning a fairly repetitive process into an interesting hunt. Shiny rates could definitely have been better, but they seemed to cheekily up them in the last four hours or so, which really turned the event around. The catch quests kept things interesting in a way that Go Fest didn't really manage, and the main storyline had a good level of difficulty (the Ditto one – the Mew one is obscenely hard and will take months 😂). Plus, they managed items far better, with an entire free 200 Pokéballs that I simply didn't even pick up, plus multiple free raid passes.
Given that they tied the Red/Green gimmick directly to incense, I think they could have boosted the rates of shinies from that particular pool a lot more. Again, towards the end of the day it suddenly picked up, but for the first 6-7 hours it felt almost forgotten. They also did a slightly weird thing of having some players that won a competition spawn as trainer battles. It was a nice reprieve from Rocket Grunts and I enjoyed the feature but a) they'd originally been billed as "free-roaming" but ultimately were locked to Pokéstops, and b) they didn't start spawning until about 1pm, around halfway through the day. Seeing as an entire quest revolved around defeating these limited-time opponents, and that they were not at every Pokéstop, that felt a bit unfair to some players.
From a non-game perspective, it was really nice stretching the legs a bit but oh my god there were a lot of people around. I think Fulham Palace Park probably had more people visible than we've seen in total for the last three months. It was a bit of a shock at first, not least of all because it's hard to look around places like the park or the outdoor seating near Hammersmith Bridge and feel like we're in a national lockdown. People were out in groups 12+ strong, lounging around, drinking, playing football, letting the kids go on the climbing frames (and with barely a mask in sight). Most are happy to abide by the one-way systems on the pathways, and most will stop and wait at pinch points, but when you have groups standing or sitting on both edges of the path, I don't think it's really social distancing any more. I feel like we stayed pretty safe, but with reports of people being fined for bird watching in some counties, or warned for walking in overly scenic spots in others, it was a little disheartening seeing a London where no one seemed too bothered, really.
Still, other people aside, it was a fun day, a novel experience, and I'd definitely consider doing something like this again. I came away feeling a lot more positive than with Go Fest and whilst I still think the price is a bit steep, when you consider it to what a day out in London would normally be, it's not too shabby at all.