Thanks to my recently playing Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee, I am starting to wonder what the future of Pokemon might look like. While it is known that Game Freak is working on a new Pokemon game that is supposedly in line with their main series of games (presumably to be released in 2019, date not currently confirmed), not much is known about this game. Considering that Let’s Go had made some deviations to the Pokemon formula, and the end result for the most part was about the same quality as their current games (keep in mind that this is only my opinion), it makes me wonder how closely the 2019 game will resemble the main games, or if it will take some inspiration from Pokemon Let’s Go.
Today, I will mention some of the deviations Let’s Go has, and list some of the current features of the main Pokemon games have up to Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. I will be making some comparisons, and perhaps point out what I think works better in each game. Ultimately, I’m looking for what Game Freak can learn from their own games, and I will add some speculation on what they may do, which will include some of my hopes. Do not expect this article to answer all of your questions about the 2019 game, as nothing official has been announced about it as of this writing. I would like to also caution my readers to not expect the upcoming game to have any of my suggestions, as I do not have any concrete information at this time.
First, let’s start with Pokemon Let’s Go’s unique features.
- This game features a similar catching system to Pokemon Go: You do not battle the wild Pokemon, but simply try to catch them using motion controls to some extent. Catching is usually faster in this system, but relies more on luck than strategy.
- Wild Pokemon can be seen in the over-world prior to encounter. This is the one feature everyone can agree is a good one, and is something that I’d like to see in future games.
- There are some changes to battles: Most of this makes this game feel more like Red, Blue, and Yellow Versions. Many moves were removed, and other moves were changed to match the modern battle system. Held items and abilities were removed as well, making some Pokemon stronger or weaker. Mega evolution is still in the game. Also like Red, Blue, and Yellow, The Pokemon Mewtwo is way too strong.
- Only the original 151 Pokemon are in this game: With only 2 new additions, the original cast is all that is here. Similar to the above note, it also affects online play so that the game feels like Red, Blue, and Yellow.
- The stat system has been simplified: Now it is possible to maximize all stats for each Pokemon in a similar fashion to Red, Blue, and Yellow. This does require a lot of candy, usually gained by catching many duplicates of the same Pokemon. I had to catch 306 Eevee to power up a Jolteon, and 181 Rhyhorn to make the best Rhydon. This method is very time-consuming. You can play without these bonuses, and each Pokemon is much stronger than any previous game if you use them.
- This game offers duplicate legendary Pokemon: They are very rare, but if you mess up one and don’t get a good one, you can try again.
- Online matchmaking is not convenient: You must put in a pass-code to pair up with a player who enters the same code. You might not play with the intended player, as there are only 1,000 combinations, or you could unintentionally get a random player. You won’t always be the player that chooses the rules!
Now let’s look at Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon’s features:
- Way more Pokemon: There are currently 807 of them. Only 2 are exclusive to Let’s Go (for a total of 809).
- Far more moves and strategies: Things like weather, terrain, trick room, and all the entry hazards are present in these games. Additionally, there are held items, abilities, and Z-moves to choose from. This leads to hundreds of variations of the same strategies.
- Cleaner matchmaking: Want a random player to play against? You got it. Need to play with a certain rule set? You are in control of that. Want to play with a friend? That is much easier! Want to climb the ranks? That is recorded too! If you need a ban-list, there are rules for that as well.
- A more complex stat system: You can choose to maximize 2 out of 6 stats, or put fewer points into more stats. This system was easier to create the Pokemon stats you want, but it is way harder to decide which sets are best. A perfect Pokemon could have half a dozen good stat distributions, and may have more depending the team or strategy you are building.
- Only one of each legendary per save file: You better catch them the way you want them the first time around, or otherwise have to trade with others, or restart your save file.
So, which features from each game is better?
- Pokemon catching is more interesting in the main games, but can be too easy when you know what you are doing. Only the rarest of captures are hard to obtain.
- The number of Pokemon is larger in the main games. It is hard to say if this is good or bad. The line between quality and quantity are blurred here.
- The same could be said of quantity of moves, abilities and items. Some extra layers of strategy are appreciated, though.
- The stat system for both games need tweaking. While the new system in Let’s Go is simpler on paper, the method of acquiring it is more time-consuming. Additionally, the scale of fully powered up Pokemon leads to very defensive game play strategies. If the main series games keep their current system, the numbers need to be more accessible, and need to be explained to new players in some way.
- Online matchmaking is better in the main games: You can guarantee you will play with random players, or the player of choice, with the rules of choice. The need for a ranking system is quite clear.
- The main games have a ban-list. There are rules to play without it too.
Here are some other changes that should be considered. This will require observing the current game play trends in both games, as well as extensive game balance testing for the new content to be introduced.
- Should certain moves, items, or abilities be removed or changed? More isn’t always better, and some strategies are either too powerful, or are used too much no matter how effective they are.
- Connecting with Let’s Go and older games may occur. An app like Pokemon Bank may be needed to transfer your massive collection. Pokemon’s consistency with this feature makes it less frustrating to catch ’em all over and over again.
- Much stronger anti-hacking measures need to be in place. My second Let’s Go online battle was against a shiny team. While not a guaranteed hack, it is suspicious, as the game was only out for about 2 or 3 weeks. This weakens the integrity of live tournaments as well. Of note, download only Pokemon, and lengthy methods of finding perfect Pokemon encourages players to cheat for a faster way to play. Lower the barrier of entry!
- The challenge level of the games need to be tweaked. Long time fans find all Pokemon games too easy. Perhaps easy and hard mode options are in order?
- An adjustable but easy to remember ban list should be implemented. The main games have these already, but some tweaks, may need to be done. Some over powered Pokemon might need to be weakened and other balance patches might need to come into play.
Ultimately, Game Freak will need to keep an eye game play trends, as well as sales. Doing so will help them find out what works better, and what doesn’t. If at all possible, they may need to observe what fans do and do not like in each game. This last bit will have to be done with some skepticism, as not every fan will come up with good ideas, and some may criticize good decisions, especially before future games come out. The future may be a bit murky for Pokemon, but it may still have some staying power if the right cards come into play.
Game Freak probably won’t give up on their standard formula, at least not in the near future. They may make sequels to Let’s Go on the side based on its reception, and might even share some features between games, but in the end, they need to continue to let the series evolve and change for the better.
So those are some things that Game Freak will need to keep in mind as they move forward. Should the Let’s Go games influence the main series of games? Should both game types influence each other? What features do you think they should share? What features should be added not present in either set of games? what do you think is next for the series? Let me know in the comments below!