Let’s Talk: Routes (Community and Personal Opinion)

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The Routes feature was released in July and has been gradually rolling out since. As the Out to Play event has a focus on Routes, and we have seen lots of bug fixes and general quality of life updates recently, I thought it would be time to give them a quick review and see what the community thinks!

What do we now know about Routes?

Route is a pre-defined path that you can follow while exploring. These paths may be made by Niantic, official partners or other Trainers, like you! To find out about how to use Routes, check out this article.

From collected data over on The Silph Road, it is believed that trainers can encounter a maximum of 3 Zygarde Cells a day by following routes. This means that to get the 250 cells required to transform Zygarde from 10% Form to Complete Form this will take an absolute minimum of 84 days.

Zygarde Cells

Re-runs of routes on the same day will not spawn a second cell, even if you reverse the route. If a Route does not give you a cell, it will not give you a cell on repeats. Zygrade Cells are able to spawn on your own Routes, they just seem to be uncommon. You can do as many Routes as you would like each day, even after collecting the maximum 3 cells.

There is a minimum distance you must travel before a cell will spawn. How far away you are from the endpoint does not matter. You can check the length of the route and the distance you’ve walked by clicking the route icon. Routes can have multiple cells, but it seems that cells spawn for every 500m of a route. Eg. A route between 500-999m will contain 1 cell, 1000-1499m routes may contain 2 cells, etc. It’s also possible to get more than 1 cell per “green sparkle”, though it is rare.

You do not have to follow the path strictly and in fact, can walk wherever you want after starting a route. You can treat the actual path as only a suggestion for where to walk. However, for spawning cells since the 283.0 update, it seems you need to be close to the route for a cell to spawn next to you.

Zygarde by kittypokemonsalot


Elite fast TMs, Rare Candy, Candy XL and Golden Razz Berries are possible end-of-route rewards but relatively rare. More common rewards include Ultra Balls, Razz Berries, Hyper Potions, Revives and Fast TMs. 1000 Stardust and 2000 XP are always rewarded on route completion. If your item bag is full when you start a route you still receive the item rewards upon completion.


Similarities have been drawn between Pokémon GO’s new Route feature and ‘Missions’ on Ingress. Missions require Ingress Agents to walk, often from point to point in order to receive premium rewards. Missions have been described by some as ‘one of the best and fun aspects of Ingress’. Perhaps this was the excitement Niantic expected from the Pokémon GO community, however, it did not seem to be received well.

Routes Rollout

When Routes were introduced, only certain Level 50 trainers had the ability to create Routes. This, coupled with long wait times for Routes to be reviewed, meant that many trainers did not have access to Routes during the Blaze New Trails event, an event which was tailored to… you guessed it – exploring Routes. 

Alongside this issue, Routes were introduced just before GO Fest Osaka and London, where the Timed Research required trainers to ‘Follow a Route’. After no Routes were available to trainers within the park experience, this task got auto-filled towards the end of the event.

Recent changes/fixes

Since the 0.283.0 update rolled out, reports are in that the experience whilst following a Route seems to be smoother and less buggy. Fingers crossed it stays this way! Here’s a summary of the findings:

  • Loop routes can now spawn a cell
  • Routes are automatically reversed if you select a Route near its endpoint
  • Pause and restart ‘trick’ not spawning a cell anymore
  • Cells are spawning on around 50% of Routes, about 70% towards completion
  • There is now a confirmation button to complete the Route rather than it auto-completing when you’re near the end point – this is great to prevent accidentally despawning a cell
  • On the topic of despawning a cell, if you accidentally walk out of render distance of a cell and notice it last second, walking back towards it should respawn the cell
  • Routes are now shown on Campfire (Although when I look it’s showing routes that are a 45-minute drive away, when there are a few much closer)
  • There seems to be a mass route rejection wave. People are experiencing this on unpublished and even published Routes with thousands of community trips logged. The mechanic for the review process is unknown and there aren’t currently any further details on this.

Community Opinion

From existing within an online space, I am aware that there’s an overall air of negativity surrounding routes. Armed with this preconception, I took to Twitter asking what everyone’s experiences have been with Routes, their opinions and any feedback they have. 

Going into this, I assumed that the only comments I would receive would be criticism, backlash and overall negative comments. I was overwhelmed with the response, and very happy to see a wide range of perspectives and overall more people understanding that the rollout was not great but still willing to give it a go if bugs were fixed and the general experience was improved.

There were a couple of categories that people fell into: absolutely against Routes, willing to give them a go but not happy with current performance, suggestions that would incentivise Trainers to follow Routes and people that have been actively engaging with Routes. Let it be said that all of these people are valid for their opinions and preferences with how they play Pokémon GO.

I haven’t found a single Zygarde cell still, despite doing a fair few, and using the ‘trick’ to find them, and it’s put me off, to the point I haven’t done one since global GO Fest, even though I have some right where I live that I made. – @kittyrambles

They aren’t a game changing feature, but they’re a nice addition. I don’t think they bring communities together like originally intended. Now that they have rolled out correctly and there’s lots around I can do about 6 on a walk (3 there and back), and the items are great. – @thepokegohunter

I can’t stand how many of the available routes in my area are clearly just meant to meet the minimum 500 meter requirement. No real thought put into what makes good start/end points or what would make a nice, safe walk where you could look at your phone the majority of the time. – @MXJPEG

Honestly? All of the routes I made got rejected and I’m not sure why. I’m not in love with this feature. – @SredniEel

I enjoy it so far, the launch was ugly but it’s bound to smooth out over time and seems to be better already than it was at first. I like making them, following them feels a bit lackluster still but I try to pair it up with my daily incense to at least try for the G birds. – @ShadokattX

I don’t mind the feature, new stuff is always good, but I don’t like how it was rolled out and was so difficult to access at first. Also I think the time that I’m around the most routes is a time like comm day and then I have to make a choice between maximising my comm day experience or following a route, and it’s not often the route wins that pick. – @Ben_222222

I just got my 50th cell and its so NOT worth it to grind out another 200. It could have been an awesome feature but they really made a mess of it. – @barside2_Mystic

On top of this, Routes still don’t address the concerns of disabled players, who are 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. Twitter user @CherylC00451341 said the following:

It’s just stupid! As a disabled person, I can’t get out and walk them. And so I can’t do any of them really. Therefore I’ll never get the chance to finish my event or do anything with it now, so therefore this is as far as I got and as far as I will ever go on it now!

Personal Opinion

Following Routes

From the start, I could not find any Routes to follow. As of writing this article, I’m still on page 5/6 of the ‘From A to Zygarde‘ special research. I went to GO Fest London and did not even look at the Routes feature as I was busy completing other tasks and enjoying the general gameplay. Eventually, I was able to follow my first-ever route on Riolu Hatch Day in my local town. Since then a couple more have popped up around town, which I tend to do as a tick box exercise on Community Days to get the buddy hearts as I usually will have a poffin on.

Aside from the slow start, I’ve personally not really noticed many bugs or things that would make Routes unplayable for me. I love that we can confirm we’ve finished a route now as opposed to auto-completing. However, I can’t say I was wow-ed by the spawns on the routes I’ve done so far, tends to just feel like more of the same rather than anything special such as the regionals (but maybe I’ve just been unlucky).

I would say my major gripe with Routes is surrounding Zygarde Cells. They’re difficult to see, not guaranteed and there certainly isn’t enough motivation for me to collect them. I’m not going to go out of my way to do a route and I certainly will not be getting 3 Cells a day (more like 3 a month at my pace, if I’m lucky). 250 Cells to get my Zygarde to Complete Form seems absurd and any effort I put towards that seems pitiful. 

Following a Route in Pokémon GO

To combat this, there could be an event (or permanent feature… hint hint) where a Zygarde Cell is a guaranteed reward alongside the stardust and XP. If I’m going to do a route, I want to feel like I’ve made progress toward something, not because of a slim chance of encountering a cell. Cells could still spawn throughout the route, as an added bonus. If this was the case, I suspect I would actively try to find routes when I’m on a walk.

Generally speaking, Routes aren’t the fix that rural trainers need, there’s much more incentive for Trainers to participate in showcases as they have premium items and rural trainers have a good chance of ranking higher. Routes kind of don’t work in a rural village. For me, it makes more sense to create 3 separate routes around my usual walk rather than 1 loop route so that I get more rewards, but more importantly more chance of Zygarde cell.

Even more frustratingly we are, 2 months later, still going in blind with Routes. We haven’t got confirmation on what a 7-day streak of walking Routes rewards if anything. We don’t know the benefit of achieving a gold Route badge – does it increase the chance of Cell or Regional spawns? Is there any benefit? If we had a concrete statement from Niantic about the mechanics of Routes, publishing these potential incentives for earning Route Badges or completing streaks I think they would be much more well received.

Recording Routes

I could not comment entirely on Routes if I hadn’t recorded any routes, so seeing as I hit level 40 recently, I took to my usual walk and gave it a go.

Overall I found the process pretty easy to do. It was intuitive and I was able to play the game as usual while recording. I enjoy that we can use our own titles, descriptions and choose the badge colour. It would be great if we could submit our own photo rather than choosing one from the start or endpoint, as often you can see great views during the Route. I understand however this would add some complication and time to the review process.

Creating a Route in Pokémon GO

During the third Route I recorded, the map glitched about halfway through. I was unable to zoom on the map or click on any Pokémon that were spawning. The only thing I was able to click on was the Route creation button. It was a shame to not be able to play the game for that part of my walk, but I figure this is a bug that will soon get ironed out.

As it stands, my recorded routes are under review. It would be useful for Route creators to have a guideline of what makes a good Route, in a similar way to the Wayfarer guidelines for Pokéstop nominations. What we have so far is a bit non-specific given we are seeing many routes being rejected for unsafe areas etc, without any further explanation in guidelines.


Overall, I think Routes are just… okay. The idea is great, but it was implemented too early, does not have the right mechanics and is just too buggy at this stage. I would have loved Routes to be something I could incorporate into my daily PoGO routine, the way I have with the Daily Adventure Incense. With the delay in the review process (which Trainers flagged up as a huge issue even from the announcement) combined with living in a rural area, it’s really not a feature that is accessible to me at this stage.

If routes become more incentivised with guaranteed cells, the rewards and review process was more transparent and overall the feature is developed further to remove bugs I can see many players willing to give them another shot and even use them regularly.

What’s your experience with Routes? We’d love to hear your thoughts on how the Routes experience could be improved.

Author & tags

Hey! I'm phrixu, a Pokémon GO player from the UK. I am dedicated to making Pokémon GO as accessible as possible, to the whole community!

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