Anyone who started playing Pokémon Go from the very beginning will surely remember the glorious summer of 2016 where you couldn’t go outside without seeing large groups of happy Pokémon Go players discovering the joy of interacting with, and catching, Pokémon in the real world.
However, venturing outside to play Pokémon Go isn't always possible, particularly right now as many players are having to self-isolate as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. In light of this, Niantic has been making some changes to the game that make it easier for trainers to keep aiming for the very best, even when it's not possible to stray far from home.
The changes are happening over time, so we've put together this guide on how you can continue to play Pokémon Go from your home that we'll continue to update as Niantic alters the game.
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How Covid-19 has affected Pokémon Go
Coronavirus has swept through every country in the world leading to a global pandemic being declared. As a result several countries have declared a nationwide lockdown preventing people from going outside and therefore dramatically reducing the playability of Pokémon Go in a significant way.
It’s easy to scoff at the thought of Pokémon Go players being unable to visit Pokéstops or Gyms, but one of the prevailing positive things that emerged from the advent of the game was how it was changing people’s lives for the better - players were getting regular exercise, it was improving mental health and communities and friendships were developed. As a result the lockdown will have been a huge blow to the health and well-being of many Pokémon Go players.
Pokémon Go developers Niantic acted to put the safety of their players first and extended, delayed and then cancelled many of the events it had announced. In particular the game's Community Day, Raid Hour and Safari Zone events were stopped as they encouraged mass gatherings of players - while other raid events have also been cancelled "until further notice".
Beyond that though, Niantic has also done its best to make the most out of a bad situation by implementing a set of sweeping changes to the playability of Pokémon Go which are designed to enable players to still get their Pokémon Go fix from the comfort of their own homes.
What you can do on Pokémon Go from your own home?
Niantic has made many home-friendly changes so you can play Pokémon Go without venturing outside. In an initial update released on March 12, Niantic made the following changes:
- Incense duration has been extended from half an hour to one hour
- The hatching distance for eggs has been halved
- Pokéstops now drop more gifts than usual
- Inventory limit of gifts has been increased from 10 to 20
- The number of Pokémon that spawn in the wild has been increased
- A bundle of 30 incense has been made available in the shop for the significantly reduced price of one Pokécoin.
In a further update on March 23, more in-game changes were made. A new one Pokécoin bundle was made available - this time for 100 Pokéballs. Both the Pokéball and Incense bundles were made available until March 30 but these bundles are replaced on a weekly basis (read on to find out the latest). In addition, the following changes were also made.
Safari Zone ticket holders are receiving in-game bonuses for playing at home, which include eight hour incense and a guarantee that all Safari Zone tasks will be able to be completed from home. The Genesect event was also adapted so that anyone purchasing the event ticket could complete it from home.
Niantic has also announced a new feature called 'Today View' which collects a whole bunch of useful information like streaks and current events in one place to allow players to keep tabs of their game better.
While the Lugia Raid week was cancelled, an update on March 30 added a new one Pokécoin bundle which was available as a one-time purchase and contained 50 Great Balls. Remember, these Pokécoin bundles rotate weekly, with the contents changing each week. These bundles are now no longer in the game.
"We are continuing to prioritize updates to Pokémon GO features and experiences that can be enjoyed in individual settings," Niantic wrote in the update. "Events may vary in certain areas until further notice."
On March 31, Niantic rolled out a further updates, including changes to Pokémon Go Gym interaction distances to allow players to "team up in Raid Battles from home".
"The distance from which you can interact with Gyms has been temporarily doubled, allowing you to be farther from Gyms and other Trainers as you challenge Raid Bosses," Niantic wrote. "This change also allows you to spin Photo Discs at Gyms if you are within the doubled distance; however, it will not change the distance required to spin Photo Discs at PokéStops."
A further update from Niantic introduced on April 15 introduces the Remote Raid Pass - which can be purchased in the in-game shop individually for 100 PokéCoins.
The Remote Raid pass allows Trainers to join Raid Battles as soon as they begin, as long as the raid is on the Nearby Raid view or tappable on the Map View. Only one Remote Raid Pass will be required to join the raid and you’ll only be able to hold a limited amount of Remote Raid Passes at a time. In addition, only a certain number of remote players can join a raid at any one time.
At launch, those who battle remotely will have the same attack power as those battling in person; however this increase is temporary, with Niantic stating it will be reduced "at a later time". After that, those who battle in person at a Gym in person will have higher attack power than a Trainer battling remotely. Remote Raid Battles will still count towards any raid-related research and achievement medals.
"We will be adjusting this feature over time, including the ability to invite friends to raids regardless of their location along with the mentioned adjustment to Trainer attack power from remote locations and the number of Trainers who can join remotely," Niantic has said.
In addition, players will receive one daily bonus Field Research task - without having to spin a Pokéstop and a new buddy system has been implemented that sees a "buddy" venturing to Pokéstops for you to collect gifts. And, if that's not enough, you'll be able to power up your Pokémon faster: with the ability to give your Pokémon all the Candy and Stardust they need to power it up to your desired CP level at once.
Finally, Trainers will be able to stack the number of Star Pieces, Lucky Eggs, and Incense they want to use - up to 200 of each item. So you can stack the activation of multiple items at once.
In May, Niantic confirmed that it would be ending its 1 PokéCoin bundles but, in order to keep it easier for players to get items, it's still possible for Buddies to bring you Gifts from PokéStops, allowing players to send and receive Gifts with friends to receive items like Poké Balls and Berries. There's also a daily bonus Field Research task that can be accessed without having to spin a PokéStop, which can be completed to earn items. Finally, the distance from which players can spin a PokéStop has been doubled for a limited amount of time.
Those looking to take part in the Go Battle League will also see some changes that make home-play more possible. For the second season of the Battle League starting in June, Niantic is continuing to waive the walk and pay entry requirements. In addition, Players who are not in-game close friends will no longer need to be physically close to one another to Battle and will be able to send Battle requests to Good Friends and above. Trainers can now also initiate battles through QR codes which can be used regardless of friendship levels and distance.
On June 2, Niantic announced that it would make it possible to invite friends to Raids, regardless of their location. The feature is being rolled out but when it's available players who join a Raid in person will see a + button in both public and private lobbies. Tapping this button will allow them to invite up to five friends to join the Raid too. Those being invited to Raids will see their invite either via a push notification or in their Nearby screen. Accepting the invitation will allow them to enter the Raid lobby, though their Remote Raid Pass will not be used until the battle starts.
Niantic also announced that its annual Pokémon Go Fest taking place on July 25 and 26 2020 will be a completely virtual experience, allowing players to take part in the traditionally in-person collaborative event from wherever they are.
One ticket purchased at $14.99/£14.99 for the event will cover two days of play and Niantic has said that it's working on a microsite "which will bring some of our favorite event activities to Trainers around the world. Just like the team lounges at an in-person Pokémon GO Fest, this site will give players a chance to take a break from catching Pokémon and interact with other Trainers, participate in fun giveaways, and get event updates." More information on this feature is expected closer to the event.
Tips and tricks for playing Pokémon Go at home
While the above changes from Niantic do certainly make Pokémon Go much easier to play at home, there are few other tips and tricks you can do to make playing Pokémon Go from your home a little easier.
If you are in a lockdown that allows for daily exercise, and there are gyms and Pokéstops within walking distance of your home, we’d recommend planning a walking or cycling route that incorporates them - but only if you are able to safely.
Pokémon Go also has many incredible online communities, including many local groups. It’s definitely worth checking them out. You can add them all as friends, battle them and send each other gifts to keep your stock of Pokéballs and eggs up during the lockdown. Plus when all this has blown over you have a new community of friends to meet!
And that’s it! Enjoy playing Pokémon Go from home and stay safe!
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Vic is TechRadar Gaming's Associate Editor. An award-winning games journalist, Vic brings experience from IGN, Eurogamer and more to the TechRadar table. You may have even heard her on the radio or speaking on a panel. Not only is Vic passionate about games, but she's also an avid mental health advocate who has appeared on both panels and podcasts to discuss mental health awareness. Make sure to follow her on Twitter for more.