We are just over a week away from Pokémon GO Fest in Chicago, and we are finally starting to get a look at what’s actually going to be going on inside Grant Park, as previously we’ve been promised “a variety of activities” and nothing else.
Niantic is going a little bit Ingress for the major component of Pokémon GO Fest, giving players inside Grant Park the ability to unlock bonuses for the entire world, and if all milestones are met a “Mystery Challenge” will appear. If the reward of the Mystery Challenge is not the unlocking of at least one legendary Pokémon for GO, we genuinely don’t know what Niantic is thinking, but that’s definitely where we think all this is heading.
Here’s a breakdown of what exactly Niantic is doing both inside and outside of Grant Park:
- During the day, Grant Park attendees will be periodically asked to hunt down specific types of Pokémon based on bonuses they want to unlock worldwide.
- Electric/reduced egg distance, Fire/candy bonus, Water/XP bonus, Grass/stardust bonus, Rock/buddy distance bonus, Normal/encounter rate bonus (hint: go for Grass, people)
- Players around the world will catch any Pokémon and if they hit certain milesetones, the bonuses will extend to up to 48 hours.
- If everyone does their job and hits the “gold” milestone, a new “Mystery Challenge” will be unlocked.
- Here’s where things get a little bit murky. The Mystery Challenge is supposed to be completed within a one hour window at Grant Park, which will lead to a two day “challenge window” globally for some sort of unlock. I’m not sure if there is a second challenge the world at large has to complete, or if whatever is getting unlocked is present for just that two day window.
Obviously the word “legendary” is nowhere to be found in all this, but if this is the major crux of Pokémon GO Fest, we are heading into late July after a promised “legendary” summer, and this doesn’t end with the release of at least one Legendary Pokémon globally? There will be Poké-riots in the streets.
Now there’s a chance that the playerbase just flat-out fails to hit X milestone, but usually when you set up something like this, you rig the game so everyone hits it no matter what. The global bonuses are nice, though we suppose not all that much different than any normal holiday event, unless players manage to unlock all of them. Though Niantic doesn’t make it seem like that’s possible.
But rather the important bit is the Mystery Challenge, and we genuinely cannot believe it would be anything other than at least one Legendary unlock. But then again we were also expecting the one year anniversary celebration to be more than a hat-wearing Pikachu and a crappy item bundle in the store, so we suppose we would be wise to prepare for disappointment.
At this point, however, it does not make sense that Niantic would debut Legendaries any later than GO Fest, given that summer is now almost 2/3rds over and kids will start heading back to school in mid- August in many locations. And what better venue to show off people banding together to take down Legendaries than the thousands rallying inside Grant Park? It’ll be a like a damn commercial. It will be a massive letdown if the unlock is anything but Legendaries after this kind of tease, and Niantic has to realize that at this point. Our theory is that the Mystery Challenge will be a bunch of Legendary raid boss spawns (either of one Legendary Pokémon, or a few) and if those are beaten by local players, they’ll be unlocked globally. We’ve previously suggested this exact thing in weeks/months past, and it would be amazing to see it in action.
But again, Niantic can sometimes do exactly what you think they’re doing (rumors about the gym/raid system panned out to be almost precisely what people were expecting) or they can disappoint (endlessly delayed Legendaries and a bad anniversary event). But we have faith something pretty cool will happen at GO Fest, and this really is the arrival of Legendaries at last. We’ll know in just over a week.