We’ve all been there. You get out of the house and walk half of an hour to track down a Legendary Raid in Pokémon GO.
You wait around at the Gym as people trickle in, slowly bringing you closer to the magic number you need to come out on top. Slowly but surely, you get there. You fight the thing and take it down, but the real challenge is only beginning. You try to catch it but it keeps popping out, and eventually, you walk away empty handed. The low catch rate for Legendary Raids in this game makes for eminently disappointing experiences, and I can’t help but feel there’s a better way for the developer to go about it.
The problem is a complex one, even if it doesn’t seem that way. At the core, this is the same problem the game has had since launch: without much in the way of gameplay, Pokémon GO relies on tweaking the values behind coin flips to create the illusion of challenge. So if the Legendary is too easy to catch, we see through to the simplicity at the heart of the game and we’re left unfulfilled. If the Legendary is too difficult to catch, we see through to the simplicity at the heart of the game and we’re left annoyed. But I digress: we’re not trying to solve the basic problems with the game here, just the superficial ones.
It makes sense why a Legendary Raid doesn’t result in a guaranteed catch, as frustrating as that may be. Niantic wants to cut down on the degree to which you can farm these things as well as make get people to participate in more raids. It’s still a bit much: as people on Reddit have shown, you can throw nine excellent curveballs and still walk away empty-handed. But while I’d prefer a slightly higher catch rate or, ideally some sort of system where you could wear the creature down with successful throws, I don’t hold out much hope for any changes in that regard. There’s still one change that could take the sting out of it.
So here’s what Niantic should do. Currently, the game considers the catch phase a “bonus challenge,” which is obviously nonsense. The catch phase is the main point of the Raid and in no way outside the rest of the action. So Niantic should acknowledge that, and put the catch phase directly after the battle, before it awards the guaranteed items and experience you get from completing the Raid. So you’d fight the creature, try to catch it, and then the game would say “Raid Complete,” and award you your rare candies and the like, ending on an upswing rather than defeat.
For me, the worst part about missing a Legendary catch is the bad taste it puts in your mouth. You’re out there, talking to some strangers, feeling successful, and then the game just sort of smacks you down, Great Curveballs and all. And that’s the last thing that in the experience: whenever I do a Raid, around half the people standing around me inevitably walk out of it dejected and less likely to go on to the next one. Moving the guaranteed rewards to the end would, at least, ensure that the experience ends on a positive note, propelling players forward rather than beating them down. And since they didn’t actually catch the thing, my guess is they’d still be motivated to try again.
Some games thrive off of negativity: witness the emotes in Clash Royale, designed for maximum frustration. But Pokémon GO is a social game that’s at its best when people are out together, enjoying both each other’s company and the game. I’m far more likely to continue playing when I feel good. Moving the guaranteed rewards to the end emphasizes that side of things rather than the RNG designed to keep you addicted.