The basic Pokémon tenet of trading Pokémon has been noticeably absent from Pokémon GO. Now, nearly two years after launch, Niantic Inc has finally announced that trading, gifting, and an actual friends list are being added to Pokémon GO later this week.
To add friends you’ll need to exchange Trainer Codes, not unlike how Nintendo operates their friends lists. Plug in the code and you can send a friend request and add them to your new friends list.
To trade Pokémon you must be physically near someone you’ve added to your friends list, both Trainers must be at least level 10. Trading Pokémon requires Stardust, but the traded Pokémon earns Candy in the process. The amount of Candy depends on how far away the two Pokémon were caught from each other. You can lower the Stardust trading requirements by building your friendship level.
Each friend has a friendship level that can be increased through gifting or cooperative battles. Gifts are received through PokéStops, and can’t be opened normally. Instead you have to trade them to friends, which they can open for a showering of loot, and a postcard of the PokéStop location.
Rare Pokémon such as Legendaries require a Special Trade. A Special Trade is limited to once per day, and only between a Great or Best Friend with high enough friendship level. It’ll also cost a bunch of Stardust.
Trading has been a highly requested feature for Pokémon GO since launch. Niantic had promised it was a forthcoming feature. Pokémon GO originally launched in Summer 2016 and went on to become a global phenomena, and introducing much of the world to the magic of an AR mobile game.
The trading and friends update should hit later this week.
Four years ago at E3 2014, Ubisoft blundered into a PR nightmare by weakly defending why both Assassin’s Creed Unity and Far Cry 4 lacked playable women characters in their multiplayer modes – they would require too much time and resources to animate.
Female representation in big, blockbuster games has been sporadic at best. Yes we can point to the same franchises like Metroid and Tomb Raider over and over again, but that just proves the point even more.
But there is good news. In recent years diversity and inclusion has become a major focus for many game developers and publishers. The fruits of those labors are beginning to show. We could call it the Overwatch or Wonder Woman Effect, or just a sign of many game companies hoping to avoid stagnation and seek out progressive voices and audiences.
At E3 2018 we were impressed with the number of women characters, both old and new, showcasing AAA games. In case you missed it, let’s run through the new era of leading ladies from E3 2018.
Technically Battlefield V was announced ahead of E3. The reveal trailer featured a female soldier who had the best lines and most badass moments. EA even went so far as to feature a female soldier on their cover art.
At EA Play 2018 they teased a single player campaign that also starred a woman fighter’s story of revenge and survival during World War II.
Battlefield V is a great example of the struggles a big studio and franchise can face for daring to include diversity in their games. That reveal trailer currently has more dislikes than likes, with both numbering in the hundreds of thousands. It’s sparked numerous outrages and debates about the game’s historical authenticity versus political virtue-signaling.
It’s endlessly disappointing that including diverse characters has become a political, hot-button issue, and the main reason why many big game companies steer clear. For what it’s worth, EA and DICE have committed to inclusion in their games.
Our commitment as a studio is to do everything we can to create games that are inclusive and diverse. We always set out to push boundaries and deliver unexpected experiences. But above all, our games must be fun!
I confess I’m not familiar with the Gears of War franchise beyond playing the first game nearly a decade ago. Kait Diaz was apparently a major player in 2016’s Gears of War 4, but in Gears 5 she takes center stage as the primary playable character.
The trailer, shown at the Xbox E3 2018 conference, featured both a cinematic cutscene with Kait, Marcus, and the rest of the team, as well as gameplay starring the young heroine.
Sea of Solitude
Sea of Solitude isn’t a AAA game, but it is being published through EA’s EA Originals brand. An announcement trailer was shown during the EA Play conference, revealing the personal story of loneliness and depression from game designer Cornelia Geppert.
Geppert was one of the few women game designers to take the stage at any of the press conferences. The game stars Kay, a young woman whose emotional issues have transformed her into a literal monster. She has to save both herself and her fellow monsters amidst a ruined, flooded world.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
One of the biggest female-led series has been riding high in the last few years thanks to a successful reboot by Crystal Dynamics. The third game in the rebooted Tomb Raider series, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, features an even darker, more brutal story as Lara must prevent a Mayan apocalypse, which she herself helped set into motion.
In the gameplay trailer we see Lara go full-on Predator, stealthy hunting foes with bow and blade in a new outfit that proves high-stakes action-adventure makes for a solid work-out regiment.
One of the most surprising announcements from the Bethesda E3 2018 conference was a spin-off co-op sequel to Wolfenstein II. Wolfenstein: Youngblood is set in 1980s Paris, far after the events of Woflenstein II.
The bad news is that the alt-history Nazis are apparently still in control (in France at least). The good news is that BJ’s grown twin daughters are ready to fight the good fight.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
With BioWare making Anthem, the torch of romancing NPCs in a gender inclusive universe has apparently fallen to Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed series. Newly announced Assassin’s Creed Odyssey looks absolutely gorgeous, taking place in Ancient Greece and featuring the same great series improvements found in last year’s Origins.
But the real talked about feature is choosing to play the entire game as either male character Alexios or female character Kassandra. Both are fully voiced and remain the stars of their stories. And yes, apparently you can romance multiple characters no matter whom you choose to play as.
Beyond Good & Evil 2
The original 2003 Beyond Good & Evil is still one of the most mentioned games when talking about female-led games. That’s pretty sad, yet Beyond Good & Evil has also become a cult favorite. Beyond Good & Evil 2 has been in development hell forever, eventually turning into this big AAA prequel starring a new female character as the leader of her own motley space crew.
The prequel has astonishingly great animated cinematics, but we also got our first look at some pre-alpha gameplay, which lets you fly to different planets and explore in third-person action-adventure. It looks incredibly ambitious. Unfortunately we still don’t have a release date.
As revealed at the PlayStation E3 press conference, Control is a brand new game by Remedy, developers of Quantum Break and Alan Wake. Jesse assumes the role of Director of the Bureau of Control, giving her supernatural powers and a fancy shifting gun.
We don’t know much more about it, but it definitely looks a lot like Quantum Break.
The Last of Us Part II
The Last of Us Part II may be the single most anticipated sequel of the year, though we still don’t have a firm release date. The new trailer showed off the most memorable scene from all of E3, an older teenage Ellie passionately kissing her new love, Dina. Not only is it a sweet moment, it’s also incredibly well animated. How far we’ve come in four years!
The gameplay portion showcased the familiar brutality of The Last of Us, confirming that Ellie is the main protagonist in the sequel, and that human enemies are just as harrowing as the Clickers.
Playing mostly as Joel shepherding Ellie in the original 2013 game while switching to Ellie for the sequel is a great metaphor for the progress gaming has made over the years. Gaming is for everyone, and it’s nice to see women get more seats at the grown-ups’ table.
The 2018 Electronic Entertainment Expo officially kicks off June 12-14. Much of the news, trailers, and announcements will come from the various press conferences held by the biggest companies in gaming leading up to the show. Stay tuned for Pixelkin for the biggest headlines, and see below for the schedule of conferences throughout the week and weekend, beginning June 9.
We’re expecting many more details and trailers surrounding BioWare’s Anthem. Other than that expect the usual slew of sports games like Madden and FIFA, and perhaps some new EA Originals indie announcements.
Microsoft has been exceedingly quiet in the weeks leading up to E3, which could be a bad thing or a good thing. The Xbox has lagged behind this generation, due in large part to a dearth of console exclusives. Might we see a price cut to the Xbox One X? Expect Microsoft to push Mixer as the next big Twitch platform.
Bethesda’s press conference in the past has been late at night, but thankfully they’re bumping it up a bit this year. Bethesda has already announced sequels Rage 2 and Fallout 76, with the latter spurring lots of speculation on what kind of game it is. Expect to get some answers Sunday night.
With Bethesda vacating the late night spot, indie publisher Devolver Digital slides right in. Last year’s inaugural press conference was highly irreverent and very goofy. Yet they still managed to show off lots of neat trailers for upcoming games. Best of all, the whole thing only runs about 15 minutes.
Despite Square Enix publishing several high profile games each year, including Final Fantasy, Tomb Raider, Dragon Quest, and Deux Ex, the publisher hasn’t held an official E3 press conference in two years. We can expect updates on Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Dragon Quest XI, and especially the highly anticipated Kingdom Hearts III.
Last year’s Assassin’s Creed Origins was hugely successful. Ubisoft has already announced Assassin’s Creed Odyssey as the next game, so expect their marquee franchise to be the highlight of the show. Will it actually come out this year? And will we see actual gameplay of the mysterious Beyond Good and Evil 2?
Since the PC doesn’t have a single big publisher press conference, media outlet PC Gamer has taken on the reigns in the last few years. It features a more late night talk-show format, with less fancy trailers and more deep dives with developers.
Sony may have the least surprising press conferences of the bunch, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We expect major updates on Spider-Man, The Last of Us Part II, Days Gone, and maybe a little more Death Stranding, one of the most mysterious and talked about games from last year’s E3.
Last but certainly never least is the pre-recorded Nintendo Direct. The Switch remains in full swing and Nintendo has many exciting franchises to announce, tease, and detail. We fully expect the upcoming Super Smash Bros. for Switch to be the main focus, but perhaps we’ll get teases for Metroid Prime 4 and the new Pokémon games.
I love Pokémon GO. I fell in love with the brilliant concept of hunting Pokémon in the real world and forgave the horrendous networking issues along with everyone else when it launched two years ago.
Jurassic World Alive borrows much of the basic gameplay and mechanics of Pokémon GO, using dinosaurs in place of Pokémon. Even if you’re not a big dino-fan, Jurassic World Alive improves upon Pokémon GO in several key areas, making it the AR game I’m more likely to play when I’m out.
Bingo, Dino DNA
Inn Jurassic World Alive you are a member of the Dinosaur Protection Group. Your mission is to save dinosaurs by, uh, shooting them with tranquilizer darts, creating genetic hybrids, and battling other dinosaurs. Who knew prehistoric conservation could be so much fun?
Just as in Pokémon GO, your primary job is to collect creatures on an augmented reality map, localized to your current location. Dinosaurs and Pit Stops are scattered around the world, the latter giving you darts to capture dinosaurs and gold for upgrading them.
When you find a dinosaur you enter a timed mini-game. The dinosaur runs around as your flying drone attempts to fire tranq darts from above. A crosshair reappears in different places on your target as you hit the marks, upping the challenge. It makes capturing the dinosaurs far more engaging and less frustrating than flinging a bunch of poké balls.
The other key difference is that you never capture a single dinosaur. Instead you collect a number of DNA points, depending on how well you hit the crosshairs. A direct bullseye will net over 10 DNA per shot, while a grazing shot gives half of that. If you miss the crosshair you’ll receive none at all.
Since each capture session is timed, you can only get a limited amount of DNA from each dinosaur. This provides a welcome incentive to capture duplicates dinos.
Gather a certain amount of DNA and you can create that dinosaur. Rarer, stronger dinosaurs like the Tyrannosaurs Rex require much more DNA. Each dinosaur can also be leveled up by collecting additional DNA, with upgrades granting more health and stronger attacks. You’ll definitely want stronger dinos because the turn-based combat is legitimately fun.
We Need More Teeth
Combat in Jurassic World Alive isn’t limited to Gyms as in Pokémon GO. You simply select the Battle button from the menu and match up with a similar rank opponent. You can bring up to four dinosaurs on your battle team, with the goal of defeating three of your opponent’s dinosaurs before they do the same to you.
Battles are intuitive and fun. Unlike the constant clicking chaos of Pokémon GO, combat in Alive is entirely turn-based. Each dinosaur has two to three moves you can choose from. Most include secondary effects like slowing down an opponent, or adding a protective shield for your next turn. Passive abilities include armor that reduces damage, or automatically counter-attacking after receiving damage.
There’s enough variety in the starting common dinosaurs that I’ve already been adjusting my team several times over as I find the right mix. The Velociraptor, one of the easiest dinosaurs to level up in the beginning, hits extremely hard with an ability that does an additional x2 damage. It has very little health, however, making it good for a strong opening attack that I immediately switch out with something beefier, like the Euoplocephalus.
While many of the abilities are outlandish and very video gamey (like the aforementioned shield, which literally looks like a sci-fi hologram in front of the dinosaur) I appreciate that most of the dinosaurs are drawn from real world creatures. Each stat sheet includes a nice little About This Creature section, featuring a few sentences of science facts. Euoplocephalus, for example, means ‘well-armed head.’ It’s not exactly National Geographic but it’s nice to see some effort made to create some educational content in a game about collecting and battling dinosaurs.
In another improvement, the Supply Drops, Jurassic World Alive’s equivalent of Poké Stops, are much more frequent and accessible. This makes a huge difference to folks living in more rural areas, where the dearth of Poké Stops makes Pokémon GO almost unplayable. A free incubator is also given every six hours, which always includes a pack of 20 darts, no matter where you are.
You can purchase additional incubators (essentially loot boxes), gold, and darts with cash, and cash can be acquired with real money purchases. But it never pushes them on you, and I haven’t felt the need to spend any real money despite devoting quite a few hours into my new dino collecting hobby.
If I have one complaint, it takes a long time to level. Like Pokémon GO, your character also levels up. Reaching higher levels spawns better and rarer dinosaurs in the wild. The leveling feels painfully slow, even early on, limiting you to seeing the same few dinosaurs everywhere.
As it cross its two year anniversary Pokémon GO’s star-studded status has faded from the public view. Pokémon remains a stellar franchise and finding Pokémon in an AR game is still very enjoyable. I have no doubt that the upcoming Switch tie-ins, Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee, will spark a wave of new interest.
I love Pokémon and Pokémon GO, but Jurassic World Alive does a better job of everything Pokémon GO does. At this point I have fully switched over from Gotta Catch ‘Em all into humming that classic John Williams theme.