My Experience with Pokémon GO Fest 2020

Pokémon GO was something of a cultural shift that started in 2016. It was nothing like we’ve ever seen before, the game absolutely exploded across the entire globe. People were getting out and making friends and working together in a way that was uncommon, especially with the dawn of social media that encouraged distanced interactions. It got so big, in fact, that an annual festival, GO Fest, has been held for Pokémon GO every year since 2017. The first two were held in Chicago, but in 2019 GO Fest was available in three cities: Chicago, U.S.A; Dortmund, Germany; and Yokohama, Japan.

As we all know, 2020 is a bit… different for everyone around the world, and meeting up for raids and spawns has been quite hard. Niantic have done a lot to make Pokémon GO a lot more accessible for people sheltering at home, like Remote Raid Passes, increased incense duration, and guaranteed daily catches. It was a relief for everyone, including myself, to hear that GO Fest would be given the same treatment and be hosted online for global players to participate in. Admittedly, I had taken a few months’ break from the game (for reasons I’ll explain below), but this announcement got me super-duper hyped.

Day 1 – 25.07.20

GO Fest 2020 was split into two days, the first of which was centred around catching and completing challenges. The event ran on both days from 10:00 to 20:00 local time, and on Day 1 each hour was characterised by one of 5 “habitats” which repeated once. These habitats were themed around Battle Pokémon, Friendship Pokémon, then Fire, Water and Grass Pokémon, with relevant Mons spawning within the designated timeframes. For those staying at home like me, the special research had rewards for 10 incense (to last throughout the 10 hours of the event), and 200 Great Balls.

It was super nice to be able to play from the comfort of your own home!

(Credit: Nintendo, Niantic, Gamefreak, Creatures)

The main draw of Day 1 was the Global Challenge Arena, with different challenges within each hour. Players around the world were asked to complete a specific challenge every hour, which if completed would result in a bonus reward for the remainder of the hour.

The challenges were:

  • Battle in raids
    • Bonus: 3x raid Stardust and experience
  • Send gifts to friends
    • Bonus: Get Rare Candy in gifts
  • Catch fire-type Pokémon
    • Bonus: Increased candy from catching Pokémon
  • Make Great Throws
    • Bonus: Increased Stardust
  • Use berries to catch Pokemon
    • Bonus: Increased Experience

People were able to get 3 free Remote Raid Passes in the shop (which I conveniently did not see until after I’d already bought 3 in the shop) that they could use to join raids their friends who were out and about participated in. Five Star raids included Kyogre and Groudon, and players could catch evolved Kanto starters through research.

So how was it for me?

It was pretty fun! I only participated in the first 5 hours of the event, covering one of each habitat. The fire habitat, however, was dreadful. The previous friendship habitat’s challenge had players send 3 million gifts to friends worldwide, with the bonus reward being the presence of Rare Candies in gifts. Everyone completed the challenge with about 3 minutes to spare, which meant that millions of people tried to open all their gifts in the remaining 3 minutes. Friends lists crashed, and once the fire habitat started, I was unable to access spawns for quite some time. I closed my game and waited for a half hour to access fire-type spawns again.

All I wanted to do was catch some Charmanders in hats!

(Credit: Nintendo, Niantic, Gamefreak, Creatures)

As explained before, I had taken a break from the game, as the island I live on has a population of 6000 people and there were only 2 Pokéstops and one gym. I didn’t know anyone else who played here (though I had been kicked out of gyms before, so I know there’s at least 2 other players) so raiding was a no-go. It was super nice to have a big community to raid with via Remote Raid Passes, and I participated in a Kyogre raid (I unfortunately didn’t catch it) and a Groudon raid (which we were unable to beat). Nevertheless, it was fun and tense and I was happy to simply be there.

Day 2 – 26.07.20

Day 2 also ran for 10 hours, with its focus on battling. It was originally advertised as a surprise, and later revealed to be a Team GO Rocket takeover, who were trying to get their hands on the mythical Pokémon Victini. Special research was a big feature, and there were many a legendary available for catching.

Victini is seriously one of the cutest mythicals.

(Credit: Nintendo, Niantic, Gamefreak, Creatures)

The mission was to defeat Team GO Rocket, with GO Rocket balloons spawned every few minutes for those of us at home, and GO Rocket Grunts plaguing Pokéstops everywhere. We had to defeat Grunts, rescue Shadow Pokémon and purify them in order to get some valuable encounters usually only available through trades. Defeating Grunts resulted in collecting component parts, which when combined allowed for players to challenge one of three Team GO Rocket leaders. Defeating Arlo granted players a Shadow Moltres encounter, defeating Cliff resulted in a Shadow Articuno encounter, and defeating Sierra gave us the chance to catch Shadow Zapdos. Catching all 3 legendary birds allowed for us to challenge the Team GO Rocket boss, Giovanni, which meant that we could capture Shadow Mewtwo after defeating him and finally get that sweet, sweet Victini. There were a few more special research challenges that had pretty cool rewards, such as Incense, Premium Battle Passes, Star Pieces and a really cute Victini tee.

Day 2 was super fun. Not being able to do raids solo meant that I wasn’t able to get that many legendaries, so getting the birds, Mewtwo and Victini (my favourite Unova Pokémon) was awesome. I also got to participate in a few remote raids and was able to catch Dialga, Palkia and Giratina, which was so exciting!! I hope this means that I finally have Pokémon that are powerful enough to engage in some 3-star raids solo. It was particularly tense for me because I wasn’t able to get into a Giratina raid until 15 minutes before the event ended. I also ended up running out of gifts by the time the research quest that gave out the Victini tee required it, but my buddy thankfully picked up gifts from nearby Pokéstops in the nick of time.

Overall, I had a great time with this year’s GO Fest. The server issues on Day 1 were quite annoying, but Niantic have stated that they were going to have a make up event in the future. We also completed enough Global Challenges to unlock 3 weeks of special raids and spawns for all players, not just GO Fest participants! I can’t wait to use my Remote Raid Passes to catch Pokémon like Rayquaza, Deoxys and Genesect. Fingers crossed that I get a shiny!!

Did you participate in Pokémon GO Fest 2020? Were you satisfied with your experience? Leave a comment!

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