Yeah I had this all typed out and was going to post right about this time but Niantic actually released Gen 2 way earlier than I expected them to. So RIP my dreams. Have already caught some Pokemon but it'll be interesting to see if these ideas were incorporated in some fashion so I'm going to post this anyway.
Pokemon Go is an imperfect game. But everyone knew this when the app was first released back in July. As someone who had it ever since launch date, I've seen and experienced some of the ups and downs Pokemon Go has gone through since then. A remembrance of things past: that time when you could hatch Pidgey and Rattata out of eggs, you could only train gyms with a single Pokemon, when you could ride in a bus going 30 mph and swipe at PokeStops...did you know there was a real tracking system for about the first week or so the app was out?
It's been a good five months since the first wave of releases, seemingly without regard to the pressure the amount of users would create on the server. The first few days were a ridiculous mess of bugs and server issues, making it very difficult to actually play. But that didn't stop too many people, as the number of people who played the game was the highest it ever was in those first few weeks. It's been a slow downhill roll from there. While this trend is expected out of any game that garnered as much attention as it did, even making it onto more "mainstream" television shows at times, I think it's fair to say that Pokemon Go has yet to truly reach its potential. The occasional events in the past several months have helped sustained the app, but they are only temporary solutions.
Now, with the biggest update in a long time around the corner, in the form of the full release of Generation 2, there is no better time to make some major Quality of Life (QoL) changes to the game. Several are being hinted at already in the announcement post, but there are still some aspects that haven't been mentioned or have much detail to speak of to know what exactly is being promised. Here are some of the biggest features I would add or change, in no particular order:
1. Increased Pokemon/backpack storage
Let's start out with something easy. With the addition of Gen 2, the total number of Pokemon in the game increases to 251. While not quite all of the 251 are possible to catch (e.g. legendaries), the amount of Pokemon storage space available from the start is only 250. That's barely enough to have one of everything, and maybe not even possible if you're trying to collect all Unown forms, gender forms, etc. without having to buy upgrades. Now I get that the app has to make some money somehow and that you can't just give nearly unlimited space right off the bat, but increasing the storage by roughly the amount of new Pokemon being added to the game would make it much less annoying for players who do want to "catch 'em all." At the very least, I would increase it to 350 and leave further expansion to microtransactions.
Given what we know from the recent announcement, I believe the default item backpack storage should be expanded a bit as well. If new berries (and perhaps other new items likely for evolution purposes) are being added, a slight increase in item storage should be made to account for it, especially if these items will be found through PokeStop swiping and used while catching Pokemon. On a similar note, the maximum allowed storage (the limit after buying the upgrade the maximum number of times) should also be increased.
2. Ability to choose rewards out of PokeStops
Despite being at a high enough level to reliably take down gyms and having the Pokemon to do so, I'm honestly one of those players who would rather just complete the Pokedex rather than battle, at least given the current setup of Pokemon Go. I'm sure this sentiment is held be a significant number of players, especially lower leveled players who do not have Pokemon strong enough to take down that 2500 CP Snorlax. Especially in the earlier days, I would throw out pretty much every potion I received from the PokeStops - for nonbattlers, these items are completely useless and only take up space in the backpack. I suggest an option either allowing for selection from a list of items when tapping a PokeStop, or setting a priority for type of item to be received when swiping.
In my first method, every item would be weighted differently, and you'd have to choose which item you wanted. For example, you could choose to take 4 Poke Balls, 2 Great Balls, or 1 Ultra Ball. Or 4 Potions, or 3 Super Potions, etc. There could be the possibility to mix and match so you'd get 2 Poke Balls and 1 Great Ball with one swipe. While much more complicated than the current setup, this method would allow for precise selection of items.
THe other method I've thought of allows you to choose a type of item to prioritize getting from swiping PokeStops. For example, if you wanted to prioritize Poke Balls, there would be an option to do so in your profile, and once selected, you will earn more Poke Ball-type items from PokeStops than normal.
4. Make currently rare Pokemon with a Gen 2 evolution much more common
So the Valentines' Day event has come and gone, but the one disappointing aspect of it for me was the pink Pokemon increased spawn rate. At least where I live, the only Pokemon that saw a noticeable increase in number was Lickitung. (Ok, Chansey, too, if you want to go from 0 to 2). The other rare Pokemon that was supposed to appear more commonly was Porygon, but I never even saw one on the radar during the entire event. Was it supposed to be like this?
This point is important since both Chansey and Porygon have evolutions in Gen 2. If it's already difficult to find Porygon, imagine how much effort it would take to obtain Porygon2, especially considering the Upgrade may be needed to evolve it as well! We will have to see how these items work in evolving Pokemon, but it wouldn't hurt to make Onix, Scyther, Chansey, and Porygon more common, right?
5. Set encounter rates based on time of day
Pokemon Gold/Silver introduced the day/night system, and along with it, different encounter rates based on whether it was day or night. For example, Hoothoot can only be found during the night, while Ledyba is only found during the morning. Eevee's new evolutions also require a certain time of day. Applying that to Pokemon Go shouldn't be too difficult. In addition, this could alleviate the problem of oversaturation of certain types of Pokemon, at least a little (i.e. at night, replace any Pidgeys with Hoothoot or something).
6. Introduce evolution methods that don't involve candy
Candy's always the limiting resource for doing anything with your Pokemon in Pokemon Go - it's used in both evolution and in powering up Pokemon, and the higher its CP and your level, the more candy it costs! If new evolution items are being introduced, then have them alleviate or remove the candy costs that would be consumed otherwise when using those items to evolve Pokemon. Walking a certain distance to simulate the "friendship" mechanic in the main series games would be a decent idea but I think might require a tradeoff to make walking in general more lucrative (due to the opportunity cost involved).
7. Add information to eggs
The thing that annoys me the most about eggs actually isn't hatching Pokemon I've caught over 200 times or the amount of walking it takes to hatch them. Rather, it's that we get essentially no information on them when they're obtained other than the distance needed to hatch them. This is a problem since it could mean eggs have sat in your inventory for months before you even get to them, especially since the order in which they appear in your storage seems to be random every time you look at it (or at least every time an egg is hatched or added to the inventory). Simply adding information on where and when eggs were obtained would seriously help in determining which one to hatch next instead of just guessing (or picking the one in the top left like I always do).
8. Make a Pokemon's speed matter more
In the games, a Pokemon's potential is based off of six statistics: HP, attack, defense, special attack, special defense, and speed. The current formula for determining a Pokemon's CP isn't exactly known, but if this post in still holds up, speed and HP factor into it a little bit. But a general trend that I've noticed is that Pokemon whose stats are much higher in speed than in other categories tend to have lower CP overall and nothing to compensate (particularly: Dugtrio, Jolteon, Electrode, Persian. Why does Dugtrio have a lower max CP than Omanyte?????). One way of doing incorporating speed would be to allow Pokemon with higher speed to attack more quickly. Or, allow them to fill out the stronger attack bar more quickly. Anything to make them a bit more relevant. High HP Pokemon like Chansey are compensated that way already, so the same needs to be done about the least important stat in the game!
9. If keeping baby Pokemon exclusive to eggs, make them much more common through that method
Filling up your Pokedex means diminishing returns on egg hatching due to the fact that you lose potential Pokedex entries from eggs, meaning candy and sometimes high CP/IV Pokemon are the only benefits from hatching them. That means, particularly if the egg pools are large, the chances of getting a new, rare, or exclusive Pokemon from them are not very high. Therefore it would be more fair to make baby Pokemon more common, should it remain the only method of obtaining them. In particular, the yet-to-be-released Tyrogue should be made more common, since it has a branched evolution, and the Hitmons already present are very, very rare as it is!
10. Make battling more strategic and CP less prioritized
Currently the best method of battling is button mashing. Which is not a good thing. What's being prioritized are Pokemon with easily spammable moves (Water Gun, for example), since the very low delay in rate of fire makes them more efficient in terms of DPS. In addition, Pokemon with the most powerful, one charge moves (Earthquake, for example) are also being prioritized over moves that can be charged multiple times before firing but aren't very strong (Icy Wind, for example). This needs to be evened up, as well as making Pokemon a bit more balanced relative to each other. Ok, the latter is definitely not true in the games, but more variety would be good, especially for gyms since Pokemon there are ordered by CP. This leads to Pokemon with high CP potential being prioritized over those that aren't, and is why Dragonite, Snorlax, Vaporeon, Gyarados, and similar Pokemon are everywhere in gyms. A first in-first out method of organizing gyms would help solve this issue.
So that's my ten things to add or fix (or work on, at least) to Pokemon Go to make it better. Disagree? Let me know why these ideas aren't good or feasible! Do you have other ideas for improving the app? Let me know too; I do have other concerns and problems about it I didn't post here since I feel they are less important or obvious (mainly technical issues). I complain about Pokemon Go a lot, but I really do think it has the potential to be great, and if it doesn't die out, there is a lot that can be done with alternate reality games that can be applied to Pokemon.