OK, OK, it might be a little too early to be talking about the new Daily Adventure Incense given that it dropped 48 or so hours ago, but it’s a hot topic, so I have to!
I’ve talked before about issues of being a semi-rural player in Pokémon GO, whilst also acknowledging that I am luckier than many truly rural players, because I do have some limited POI (points of interest, i.e. PokéStops and gyms) to interact with. When I saw the news of this Daily Adventure Incense drop, I was excited. Here was something that as far as I could tell, was going to immediately help rural players, who might not have any spawn points or POI to help them play. Awesome!
I then came across this interview with Pokémon Go live game director Michael Steranka on Polygon, and I got even more excited. It appears this new Incense has been developed specifically with rural players in mind!
“Coming out of the past two years of this pandemic, something we’ve been really thinking about is how the world has changed in many ways, in terms of people’s daily habits and routines. Something we really wanted to do was to meet players where they are in this new environment, and offer the Pokémon GO experience to people who are maybe staying a little bit closer to home than they were two years ago, and maybe don’t have a PokéStop near you that you can spin every day.”
The pandemic truly had a major impact on Pokémon GO. Some were great, like remote raid passes, the daily spawn, and the free daily research task, but others that were very loved by the community, have since been removed. I’m talking about the increased incense effectiveness whilst stationary of course. People stopped travelling, and with a cost of living crisis affecting many parts of the world, travel just isn’t necessarily an option. Higher fuel prices might mean instead of driving to your favourite grind spot, you end up staying home in your village or suburb instead, which are a lot less interesting to play in.
Interestingly, Steranka says that the thoughts behind this new Daily Adventure Incense were inspired by his Mother. “She plays Pokémon Go, but she lives in an area that doesn’t have a PokéStop nearby. So she’s always begging me to send her gifts and whatnot to give her the Poké Balls that she needs to play. So we really wanted to create a feature that meets players [like her] where they are, and offers the full Pokémon Go game loop, no matter where you are in the world, at least for 15 minutes a day.”
Now this, I love. One of the common cries from rural players is that Niantic simply don’t understand what it is like for them, so seeing Steranka’s own Mum being affected, and talking to him about it, is great! Direct feedback, that has been taken on board and listened to. Something the community has been saying for years, that Niantic were finally able to see thanks to Momma Steranka. Thank you! One of our favourite parts about this new incense is the addition of the Pokéballs for those without them, to ensure you can fully take part in this daily activity. If you have fewer than or exactly 30 total Poké Balls, Great Balls, and Ultra Balls, you will receive 30 Poké Balls when you activate Daily Adventure Incense. Not being able to stock up on items is such an issue for rural players, so 30 free Pokéballs for activating this incense when you have 30 or less balls total, really great stuff.
Niantic have always wanted us to go outside and explore, and the aim with this new incense is to encourage us to “step away from your computer, [and] get a breath of fresh air.”. For me personally, I discovered that the mini-walk route I usually take is around 15 minutes, and it is absolutely going to encourage me to do this on a daily basis, because of the chance of those Galarian Legendary birds.
“There are hundreds of Pokémon that will be available through this, so everybody’s adventure will be different, and we’re really excited for people to share with each other what you encountered throughout the day. We’ve packed a fair amount of surprises through this feature that we’re really excited for people to discover and share.”
With rare spawns like Espurr, Vullaby and Rockruff, which were all previously raid or egg exclusive, regionals for your location, and then the chance of the Galarian Legendary birds, there is a lot of potentially cool stuff to be caught from these incense. With incredibly low catch rate and high flee rate (0.3% and 90% respectively), the Galar birds are going to be tricky to get, and it seems like Niantic want these to be a rarer, more long term goal, rather than just something you can add to your collection easily. It’s an interesting way to add them, and I’m sure we’ll see them in other ways in the future.
It also seems like the spawn pool for this could potentially shift fairly regularly, or be quite massive, given the statement of “hundreds of Pokémon” being available. So far most people’s complaints on social media seem to be that the spawns aren’t good or rare enough, or that they didn’t encounter many spawns. In terms of the quality of spawns, it doesn’t make sense for every spawn to be a rare one, they wouldn’t be rare if they were! And in terms of the amount of spawns, because the spawns are triggered by GPS, and not steps, you need to make sure you are travelling, not just doing laps of your garden/house. The ideal way to optimise the incense will be in a straight line, so when the game checks your GPS, you’ll always be in a new, further location. Doing a loop with too sharp a turn in it may mean your GPS won’t realise you’ve travelled that distance, so instead of seeing your travel round that corner, it’ll skip and take the straight line from your last check in.
For example, if you were walking by Anfield in Liverpool, and walked the red route, depending on your speed, you may find the purple is how your GPS is actually reflected, less distance, and corners cut.
It’s cool to know that places that might have had zero spawn points, can now have spawns thanks to this incense. How many times have you been on an adventure in nature and wished you could play GO, only to discover that there aren’t any spawns? I love exploring woodland, and so often there just isn’t any Pokémon to catch while I’m there, and this way, I can make my own adventure!
Now this incense still doesn’t address the concerns of disabled players, who were able to play the game thanks to the pandemic incense bonus, who are now left out because they can’t move fast enough for incense, or get outside to play at all. We do hope Niantic will try to talk to more disabled players, and understand their perspective. Social media isn’t the friendliest place to discuss accessibility for Pokémon GO, and cries of ‘just play another Pokémon game’ isn’t helpful. GO has it’s own community and adventures to be had, and people want to be able to join in with those.
Seeing Niantic understand the frustrations of rural players, and working directly to address that in a way that means every single day you can enjoy playing for 15 minutes with spawns, and the Pokéballs you need to catch them, is a great step in the right direction. Personally I think this is one of the best quality of life updates we’ve had in a long time, and I look forward to my 15 minute Daily Adventure Incense walk when I get home from work tonight.
Good luck catching those Galarian birds, happy hunting!