I will start off by saying that I was very late to start this game. It was released on July 6th, 2016 and it took me on August 18th, 2016. Based on the reactions I have seen online looking for tips, I am guess my first experience was slightly different compared to those who started at the initial launch.
I installed the game during my recent work trip to California. After heading about the massive craze for much of the past month I figured I would try it out. I installed it and set out around town. Quickly I started learning that this game’s objective is much different than the GameBoy Pokemon Games. The objective in Pokemon Go is to catch at many Pokemon as possible, period. When you are a low level you can do nothing else. There are other fun feature parts of the game, but there is an incredible time sink to get up to that point. It reminds me much of “grinding” that would happen in MMOs back in the day where you would do the same thing over and over in order to get more gold, armor, experience, etc. The game mechanics also lead you to have no attachment to any Pokemon unless they happen to be the strongest one you have caught. You do not level up your Pokemon by battling, no you just feed them candy that, as expected, is awarded from catching more of the same Pokemon. The game lets you choose a starter Pokemon, but it is so weak that I think the creators included it just for Nostalgia sake since the old games had the same feature.
Game play is extremely depended on where you are located. Walking around my neighborhood is a ghost town. They are some standard Pokemon that appear (Rattata and Pidgey for life), but the second half of the game is built around Gyms and Pokestops. These are landmark locations that were designated in Ingress, the previous game by Niantic. These locations give you items and experience. Living out in the suburbs can leave you without Pokeballs, and without Pokeballs the game stalls. I walked downtown Chicago at Navy Pier yesterday at it was a goldmine compared to the burbs. I had to stop walking in order to catch all of the Pokemon that showed up. This was in addition to Pokestops being located several hundred feet apart not several miles apart.
Despite all of this, I think Pokemon Go is incredible. If you would have told a much younger version of myself that I could be walking around the real world and be catching Pokemon that appear around real world land marks I would have said it was a cheesy fake TV show, not an actual game spreading around the world. Sure Ingress may have missed out on making the perfect game, but they still created something that is both awesome an incredible fun. Lets see how long it takes me to catch all the Pokemon.