It is typical for there to be spooky goings-on and special events within Niantic’s powerhouse mobile phenomenon Pokemon GO around Halloween season, but this year they are really pushing the boat out not only with the introduction of new Pokes like Smoliv that dropped on the 12th October, but a huge new feature that kicks off today, October 17th.
We were introduced to this new gameplay mode courtesy of a live webinar and Q&A session with senior producers Justin Koch and Tim Nguyen who talked us through their exciting development, as well as answering a huge number of questions from the gathered journos. Party Play introduces the concept of forming up a team of up to four Trainers, in order to raid together and participate in challenges that give you rewards, much the same way as recent introductions like XXL weigh-in contests have generated more in-game swag.
You can form a party with anyone you like whether you are friends with them on the game or not, thanks to the use of QR codes. Once in a party you can see your squad on the map, which is a cool touch. There will also be in-game avatar garments released with the update, all Eevee themed, and lend your teams a bit of identity.
The one caveat – which I must say does seem a bit harsh on anyone who is housebound, unable to travel, or living in a remote area – is that Party Play can only be activated if you are within a Pokestop-spinning distance of your cohorts.
Party Play has a minimum level 15 requirement, and a maximum of four players – this was decided with smartphone performance in mind, to reduce possible power drain and be less taxing on the CPU of your phone. You can also select an option to turn off the visual of the other trainers to further restrict and performance issues that may occur.
When you are in a party in Pokemon Go, any raids entered automatically send an invite to all of the party members. Probably the coolest part is that during battles, you can fill a Party Meter, which when full enables a multiplier attack that is like an EX version of your charge moves. We were shown a video where a party of three trainers easily dispatched a Mega Gardevoir using this technique – something that would probably not be possible without the Party Meter mega combo.
Party Play lasts for one hour at a time, but Niantic have indicated this may increase during special events such as Community Days. During any challenges that you take on, each participant is rewarded equally. There are challenges based upon a variety of factors such as Pokemon caught, throw types, and more. The Party Mode it out today, as well, so get updating.
In addition to this, there will also be autumnal/Halloween map updates with orange Pokestops. Pumpkin patches and autumn leaves and new avatar items based upon spooky season. Halloween will also see the introduction of 3 star raids for everyone’s favourite Gen 9 Ghost-type, Greavard – which you can evolve into Houndstone with enough Candies!
There will also be a weekend Raid event which will enable you to have a tilt at a Shadow version of Psychic/Flying Legendary from Gen 2, Lugia. These Shadow Riads will, however be in-person only and not accessible via Remote Raid Passes.
Pokemon GO shows no signs of letting up, and is still a hugely popular pursuit for millions of fans, myself included. I cannot wait to try these new features, but in the meantime I am off to hunt myself down a Shiny Pumpkaboo.