Go Fest 2021 Set Expectations Way Too High

Because I’m an inconsistent Pokemon Go player, I have a handful of old Special Research Assignments on my list that can’t be completed. My oldest one is Season of Legends from last March, which requires taking a snapshot of Thundurus. I managed to catch both Landorus and Tornadus during Go Fest 2021, but I missed out on Thundurus the first (and second, and third) time around. As Go Fest 2022 neared, I assumed I’d finally have a chance to catch Thundurus, along with the rest of the Legendaries I’ve been missing. Boy, was I wrong about that one.

This year’s Go Fest was nothing like last year’s, and the community is understandably upset. Posts all over social media have been comparing the two events to point out everything this year’s Go Fest was missing. There were fewer Legendary raids, worse shiny rates, fewer freebies, worse bonuses, and plenty more bugs this time around. Whether you enjoyed the weekend or not, it’s hard to ignore just how much better last year’s event was – at one-third of the price, no less.

Pokemon Go Fest 2021 introduced the Melody Pokemon Meloetta with a music festival-themed story line. Players started by choosing between rock and pop music, which determined both the music they would hear and the type of costumed-Pikachu they would find. They’d then work through the Special Research Assignment by collecting music-themed Pokemon to join their band and lure out Meloetta. The event had a cohesive and memorable theme that surrounded a day of bonuses and freebies, including boosted Shiny rates, one-half egg hatch distance, eight free Remote Raid Passes, and six special trades. On Sunday, 37 Legendary Pokemon were featured in xp-boosted raids, with the chance to find Shiny versions of 31. I caught six shinies throughout the weekend, including Latios and Cobalion.

This year, Go Fest had no theme. Players could choose between catch, explore, or battle-themed research assignments and complete a fairly generic storyline to encounter the Mythical Pokemon Shaymin. Shiny rates were supposedly boosted, but the consensus from the community seems to be that they weren’t boosted enough. While I finished the weekend with ten Shinies, including Shiny Groudon, many didn’t catch any, including our own Ben Sledge. The only Legendary Pokemon featured in raids were Kyogre, Groudon, and Nihelgo. The first appearance of an Ultra Beast in Go couldn’t make up for the huge disparity between last year’s Legendary selection and this years, especially considering there’s nothing special about them.

Go Fest 2021 was a special year. To celebrate the fifth anniversary of the game, Niantic reduced the cost of admission to $5 and brought back almost every legendary Pokemon. On the one hand that might explain why this year didn’t feel as special, but on the other hand it’s hard to remember that Go Fest ‘21 was meant to be an anniversary event when Go Fest is so new. For the first two years, Go Fest was a local event that took place in Chicago. In 2019 it expanded to two more cities, Dortmund and Yokohama, but it wasn’t until 2020 that Go Fest became a global event. That means Go Fest 2021 was only the second time players around the world could participate. Global Go Fest is still in its infancy, and Go Fest 2021 set extraordinarily high expectations for what the event would be.

Between low Shiny rates, ghost spawns, and busted Raids, there were a lot of bugs that held this event back. Those are unfortunate occurrences in any live game that can’t be avoided, and I suspect Niantic will take some action to make things up to players, be it a make-up day or bonuses during the upcoming Go Fest finale. The real issue with this year’s Go Fest is how little it had to offer in terms of theme, Legendaries, rewards, and available wild Pokemon. It’s hard to justify a $15 ticket for an event like this when we know it could be so much better.

We may not see another spectacular Go Fest until 2026, when Pokemon Go celebrates its ten-year anniversary. But, I hope Niantic takes the feedback from the community seriously, because there are going to be a lot of hesitant players when Go Fest 2023 tickets go on sale.

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