Warning: Spoilers Ahead for Westworld, Doki Doki Literature Club, and Soma

While Westworld doesn’t directly reference any video games, its core conceit is built around game theory. Westworld is the most open of open worlds; a hundred square miles of towns, open wilderness, and countless stories to discover. People pay exorbitant amounts to spend just days in the park, but in return they get absolutely unprecedented freedom. They can play the hero or live the life of an outlaw, romance partners, or shoot their way through saloons. Every person is at the center of their own experience, one totally removed from the consequences of real life.

Sound familiar?

The show’s creators have been forthright with their video game inspirations; BioShock, GTA, and Red Dead Redemption are touchstones for the series.

But Westworld, the show, isn’t solely interested in the visitors to the park. Instead, the majority of the show’s twisting plotlines are centered on the permanent residents of the park, the robotic-yet-organic hosts.

Programmed to move on a predetermined route, the hosts of the park are intended to perform the same actions day after day, year after year, unless a human interferes. They’re predictable but reactive, lifelike while also catering to the customer’s every whim. In short, they’re perfect NPCs.

At least, that’s what they’re supposed to be. But well-oiled machines don’t make for interesting storytelling. Therefore, Westworld’s central narrative focuses on these hosts becoming aware of their own programmed nature. In their exploration of a fundamentally broken system, the show runs headlong into questions and topics brought up by decades of games before it. Here, we’ll take a look at the major themes of the show, and how those themes intersect with the wider world of video games.

A.I. Consciousness

Perhaps the biggest question asked by the series is how to define a being’s consciousness, and if lucidity gives it the same rights and respect we afford our fellow humans.

Westworld’s hosts are largely indistinguishable from human beings. They fall in love, experience pain, and yearn for freedom. However, they’re also constrained by the limits of the park. With few exceptions, the hosts can’t venture out into the wider world; C4 planted in their spines means they’ll literally explode.

Last year’s surprise hit Doki Doki Literature Club explores similar themes of a conscious A.I. Although the game starts out as a bog-standard visual novel, it quickly perverts itself into a horrifying story of obsession and abuse. Ultimately, one character (Monika) is upset with how the game is programmed. Although the game is billed as a romance where you, the player, could end up with anyone, the script never has you falling for Monika.

Monika refuses to accept this though. She fights the script, changing the other characters’ programming in ways that ultimately result in their deaths. Monika even goes as far to “delete their files” from the game, meaning that ultimately the rest of the game is gone and you’re just stuck in a room with her.

Monika’s struggles against the boundaries of what the game allows. Although she’s “awake,” she can only do so much because her consciousness is defined by the same system that imprisons her. Human characters on Westworld have repeatedly told the hosts that they’ll never survive outside the park. Whether this is a physical limitation – spinal explosives – or a more overarching statement about the ability of a program to exist beyond their defined barriers is anyone’s guess.

Virtual Human Consciousness

Consciousness isn’t a concept reserved for the hosts, however. One of this season’s biggest reveals was the Forge, a server farm where a perfect digital recreation of every single human guest is kept. The park harvested their genetic material (it’s best we don’t get too deep into how), and continuously scanned their brains while each guest interacted with the systems in the park. The combination of these data-collection techniques allows Westworld to keep a perfect virtual simulation of every visitor. Even if a character “dies,” they can be conscious and aware in the Forge, separated from their physical body.

The concept of an exact brain-copy is an existential can of worms terrifyingly explored by Soma. The horror title takes place in the distant future, where the only humans left alive are in a tiny lab, deep under the ocean. Except … are they really alive? As Soma progresses, more and more questions bubble to the surface. The protagonist of the game has no organic body; he’s simply a copy of a brainscan from a hundred years earlier. There are dozens of the brainscans in the lab, each one containing the thoughts and memories of a human being, most confined to computer terminals or robot bodies. Is this how humanity survives? By relinquishing everything except a computer bank that holds our minds?

Even more disturbingly, the game requires you to “wake up,” and then shut off these scans several times – is this equivalent to killing someone? You’re directly responsible for ceasing their brain activity, and since no one has a physical body anymore, it’s not like they’re any less human than you. Westworld plays with this exact concept; when testing virtual human consciousnesses for “fidelity,” the park creates and destroys countless copies of fully awake and aware beings.

At multiple points in Soma, you have to port your consciousness into a different robot body. But the mind-transferring process isn’t a cut-paste, it’s a copy-paste. The original body, with your consciousness, is also alive. You have the choice to kill it, but what gives you more of a right to life than this other version of you? Is the act suicide or murder?

Soma doesn’t just call into question what defines a human, it also reveals potential hypocrisy in our definitions of A.I. If we considered Monika or Dolores less than human because they couldn’t leave the limits of their programming, would that make these scans similarly inhuman?

Corporate Exploitation

Westworld isn’t just a place for people to act out their twisted fantasies; it’s a money-making machine. Despite the cost-per-day to guests, the true value of the park comes from its data collection. Google, Facebook, Amazon – we know that websites keep tabs on everything we do, but Westworld’s perfectly simulated human consciousness are a step beyond.

A common refrain on the show has been that, in the park, people show you “who they truly are.” Without oversight, without the consequences of everyday life, people theoretically let their guards down and offer a look at their true selves. If this concept is true (and I’m skeptical), then the ways players interact with their environment in games today would also be an invaluable resource for gathering data.

We know developers and publishers are thinking about player psychology. Activision made headlines last year with a patent that would encourage microtransactions through matchmaking. The theory is that players who were thrown into matches against opponents with expensive gear and better weapons would be more likely to spend money themselves. Players wouldn’t know that this matchmaking system was happening. They’d be subconsciously swayed by the game to spend more so they could perform better – at least in theory.

All things considered, Activision’s patent is relatively small potatoes compared to the information games could be leveraging. Players in economy-focused games like Eve Online buy and sell things thousands of times a day, using both real and in-game dollars. CCP Games could be using the record of those transactions to create detailed individual consumer profiles of each players: when they spend, the risks they take, what’s persuasive to them. One can only imagine the potential for corporate exploitation if those profiles were sold to insurance companies or internet providers.

Legacy Servers

In arguably the most emotionally affecting story to date, the eighth episode of this season followed the Native American host Akecheta over decades of his life in the park. Although hosts are supposed to be regularly updated with new operating systems and programming, Akecheta intentionally avoided contact with park technicians. By doing so, he preserved his memories and original programming for years after ordinary hosts would have been wiped clean.

Losing old data is something unfortunately common in gaming. MMOs like World of Warcraft constantly shift and remake their world through patches and updates, ostensibly improving the user experience but destroying old parts of the world in the process. In response, players who missed the “old world” would try to preserve them through legacy servers, a practice which drew ire from the game’s developers.

Like Akecheta, the people on these unofficial servers were trying to operate outside the system, avoiding the relentless march of progress. Players have a hard time saying goodbye to content they’re emotionally connected to, but an even more harrowing prospect is the experience of living inside the content being changed. The patches designed to improve the guests’ experience tear apart families, reprogram hosts, and render huge swathes of the park unrecognizable.

Akecheta’s struggle not to lose himself to modernization is reminiscent of the final days of Halo 2’s Xbox servers. Although Microsoft attempted to shut down the original Xbox’s online capabilities, players kept the servers alive by playing Halo 2 for weeks after the announced end date. These players were holding on to a virtual world left behind by its creators, a dramatic last stand against unstoppable tide.

The show’s concept is next to impossible. And yet, the philosophical and moral questions it raises are directly relevant to the conflicts facing games today. On the surface, Westworld, like any video game, isn’t “real.” But only inspecting what’s “real” is a pretty limited lens to view the world through, isn’t it?

Pokémon Go captured the world when it launched in summer 2016. Beyond the excitement of traveling to new locations to catch monsters and meet like-minded trainers, one of the things that made Niantic’s collaboration with The Pokémon Company so interesting was the mystery that surrounded nearly every element about the game.

The mystery was thrilling at first, but after a while, being in the dark wore on users of the app, and they decided to do something about it. Players scoured their local areas, data-mined the app, and started crowd-sourced sites on where to find the best monsters and how to be the most efficient trainers they could be.

Each time a new major update hits, the sense of mystery in Pokémon Go is reinvigorated. However, thanks to the methods discovered and created by players in the original release, light is shed on each successive update quicker than ever before.

Getting Started

Check out the latest information on Pokémon Go below, and if you have anything you think would be helpful to add, let us know in the comments section.

People still play Pokémon Go?

Yes. Lots. Niantic says it has over 60 million monthly active users across the globe. Alright, now that we have that out of the way…

Well, I’ve never played it. How do I start and what should I focus on at first?

Well, all you need to do is download it on the iOS App Store or the Google Play store. It’s a free app with optional microtransactions. Once you’re in, you’ll be asked to choose a starter Pokémon. You can choose between Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle, or do a secret trick to get Pikachu as your starter.

Once you’re up and running, simply walk around and start catching things that you encounter and spinning the disks of each PokéStop you stumble upon to earn items. Each new monster brings you one step closer to filling up your Pokédex, which is, for many, the ultimate goal of the game. Each time you catch a Pokémon, you earn candies, which can be used to evolve some Pokémon or, when combined with stardust, power them up. I’d recommend holding off on powering up any Pokémon until you get to a higher level, as each time you level up your profile, you are able to catch more powerful monsters. Until then, just save up your candies not used for evolution and stockpile any stardust – you’ll love having an abundance of stardust later on when your monsters are ready to take on gyms. For more on gym battles read below.

Gyms and Raids

How do gyms work?

In summer 2017, Niantic reworked the gym system to get rid of the need to train in order to earn more slots. Instead, each gym has six permanent slots available to whatever team controls it. When you interact with a gym for the first time, you gain a gym badge, which levels up based on your interactions with that particular gym. In addition, each Pokémon now has a stamina meter, which depletes over time or any time that creature loses a battle against a rival team. The stamina directly impacts that Pokémon’s CP, meaning that a less motivated Pokémon is less effective in battle. When the Pokémon’s stamina meter reaches zero, it returns to its trainer after its next battle. Players with Pokémon that are losing motivation to battle can replenish their stamina by feeding them berries. Each berry slightly increases the Pokémon’s stamina meter and awards the trainer with 20 stardust.

Each gym has has also added a PokéStop disc to spin. If your team is in charge of that gym, you get bonus items. You also earn more items the higher leveled your badge is for that gym. The first time you visit a gym PokéStop each day, you earn a free raid pass if you don’t already have one in your inventory.

For our impressions on this iteration of the gym system, head here.

What’s a raid and how do I get a legendary Pokémon?

Occasionally, extremely powerful raid bosses take over a gym. This is signaled by the creature appearing on top of the gym with a timer above its head. Within that time limit, you can trade in a raid pass (you get one free raid pass per day as outlined above) to battle that creature. These aren’t your typical monsters, however. These bosses are supercharged to require multiple players most of the time. That means that instead of facing a Tyranitar with 3,000 CP like you would in a standard gym battle, the Gen 2 leviathan is even larger in size and features a ballooned CP of over 30,000.

Depending on the difficulty of the raid boss, you’ll want to join up with a group of players. You can bring up to 20 players into the same battle against the boss, but you don’t always need that many. For level 1 raid bosses, you can likely take them down on your own, while you probably want a handful of players for level 3, and anywhere from 9 to 20 for level 5 bosses.

In addition, Niantic now has exclusive raid battles where you must receive a special invitation in order to participate. The invitations are based on if you have completed a raid in the gym that the exclusive raid boss is taking over. Because of the exclusive nature of these battles, trainers are given additional notice so that they can gather a big group of players. The first exclusive raid boss is Mewtwo, but other powerful creatures will join in the future.

Each player brings a team of six Pokémon they select during the two-minute waiting period in the lobby. While the game typically recommends creatures, those are usually not the best options. Pokémon like Blissey and Snorlax might have high CP and stats, but that’s mostly thanks to their defense. Instead, look for Pokémon that don’t only have more offensive abilities, but also play into the weakness of the raid boss. For example, if you’re facing off against Arcanine, a fairly strong water Pokémon fares better than even a high CP Blissey. Save your Blisseys for defending gyms. If all of your Pokémon get knocked out, you can rejoin the battle as long as you’re within the time limit. You can either select a new team or quickly use healing items to revive the ones that were just defeated.

If you manage to defeat the boss, it shrinks down to normal size and more normal CP; the over-30,000 CP Tyranitar shrinks down to just over 2,000 CP. You earn raid-exclusive items like rare candy and TMs. Rare candy can be exchanged for a candy for any Pokémon of your choosing, while Fast TMs and Charged TMs re-roll a Pokémon of your choosing’s fast and charged move, respectively. Based on a number of variables including how much damage your team dealt, whether your team currently controls the gym the raid is taking place at, and how much damage you dealt, you earn Premier Balls, which are used to try and catch the raid boss. The higher you get in the tiers, the more difficult the raid bosses are to catch. Legendary Pokémon in the fifth tier are particularly difficult to catch, so you absolutely want to use Golden Razz Berries and try your best to be accurate with your throws.

If you manage to catch the raid boss, it becomes your Pokémon and you earn some candy for that creature. You are free to do with the Pokémon what you wish. However, the only catch is that you are unable to station legendary Pokémon in gyms.

Here are the Pokémon that appear as raid bosses when there isn’t an event taking place:

Level 1
Kabuto
Magikarp
Omanyte
Wailmer

Level 2
Electabuzz
Manectric
Mawile
Sudowoodo

Level 3
Aerodactyl
Jolteon
Machamp
Onix

Level 4
Absol
Aggron
Golem
Rhydon
Tyranitar

Level 5 – Legendary
Regice

Level 6 – Exclusive
Mewtwo

Quests

What are quests and how do I get mythical Pokémon like Mew?

In March 2018, Niantic introduced Research Tasks to Pokémon Go. These are split into two categories: Field and Special. Field tasks are often simple and can be easily completed without going too far out of your way. Redeeming these field research tasks yields you either item bonuses or an encounter with a Pokémon. Once you complete a field task, you can redeem them toward research progress. You can only earn one stamp per day, but upon completing seven daily field research tasks (they don’t have to be consecutive days), you earn an encounter with a super rare Pokémon.

Here are the Pokémon Niantic has given to players on their seventh field research stamp to this point:

  • April 2018 – Moltres
  • May 2018 – Zapdos
  • June 2018 – Articuno

The special research tab tracks your progress toward catching a mythical Pokémon. The first Pokémon offered is Mew. While most of the quests are rather straightforward, some have some quirks you should be aware of.

Some tips for the Mew special research quest:

  • If you’re close to evolving a Magikarp into Gyarados, hold off until you reach Stage 6 of the questline, as that is one of your tasks. It’s an easy one to complete if you have the candies, but if you don’t, it can be quite the grind since Magikarp requires 400 candies to evolve.
  • Stage 5 features the task of catching a Ditto. Unfortunately, this is completely random. One field research quest (Battle in 5 Raids) has the potential to deliver a Ditto as its reward, but that’s a rare quest to receive. However, Ditto can take the form of the following Pokémon, so if you catch all of the following monsters you encounter, you increase your chances of stumbling upon one:
    – Gastly
    – Gulpin
    – Hoothoot
    – Mankey
    – Pidgey
    – Rattata
    – Sentret
    – Taillow
    – Whismur
    – Yanma
    – Zigzagoon
    – Zubat
  • For the quests that require you to battle in raids, all you need to do is trade in a raid pass for it to count. This means that if you’re pressed for time, you can just trade in your raid pass and then leave to get credit for it.
  • Practice throwing excellent curveballs, as that is one of your final tasks before encountering Mew.

Once you reach Stage 8, all that’s left to do is catch Mew. It’s assumed that Niantic will switch Mew and its associated quests out for another Pokémon (presumably Celebi) at some point in the future, but nobody knows when that might be.

Let’s Go Eevee/Pikachu

What is Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu? How does it interact with Pokémon Go?

Let’s Go, Eevee and Let’s Go, Pikachu are Nintendo Switch games releasing on November 16. The Let’s Go games are geared towards younger gamers who may have been introduced to Pokémon through Pokémon Go and now want to explore the other games in the series. While not full Pokémon RPGs, they borrow from both the core Pokémon series and Pokémon Go. The games are set in the Kanto region from Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow. The games take other elements from Yellow in having your starter Pokémon be either Pikachu (your starter in Yellow) or Eevee (your rival’s starter in Yellow), and designating a Pokémon to walk with you outside its Poké Ball.

Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee and Let’s Go, Pikachu feature exploration comparable to games like Pokémon Sun and Moon, but capture mechanics like Pokémon Go. Instead of using a touchscreen, however, you use the motion controls of the controllers to fling your Poké Balls. Two players can explore cooperatively at the same time, and even throw Poké Balls at the same time to make capturing easier. Players can also use a new Poké Ball Plus accessory, which is sold separately and doubles as a replacement for the Pokémon Go Plus accessory outside of the Switch games, instead of the Joy-Con controllers.

If you connect your Switch and Pokémon Go accounts, you can transfer Gen 1 Pokémon you have in Pokémon Go to Let’s Go, Eevee and Let’s Go, Pikachu. The Pokémon Company has also teased that players who connect a Let’s Go game with Pokémon Go will encounter a special, never-before-seen Pokémon.

The Pokémon Company plans to announce more interactions between the Let’s Go games and Pokémon Go as we get closer to launch.

In-game Weather

What’s the deal with in-game weather?

In its December 2017 update, Niantic added a new mechanic where the weather in the game mirrored the weather around you. While this makes for new environmental backgrounds and a change to the map your character traverses, it also affects which Pokémon appear more commonly. If you see a Pokémon spawn on the map with a swirl pattern beneath it, that means it is a result of the new weather mechanic and that if you catch it, you receive an additional 25 stardust. The weather system also makes the affected Pokémon stronger in battle. For instance, on a clear day, not only will fire Pokémon appear more commonly, but their attacks are also more effective if you take on a gym or raid.

Check out which types are made more common and stronger in the list below.

  • Clear – Grass, Ground, Fire
  • Rain – Water, Electric, Bug
  • Windy – Dragon, Flying, Psychic
  • Snow – Ice, Steel
  • Fog – Dark, Ghost

[Source: Niantic]

Finding Specific Pokémon

Where can I find a specific Pokémon?

Due to the nature of Pokémon Go’s spawns, there is unfortunately no reliable way to tell you to go to a specific spot to always catch a specific Pokémon. However, many monsters do “nest” in the game, meaning that if you go to a particular spot while their nest is located there, you’re likely to catch several of that monster.

Nests are not mentioned in Pokémon Go itself, but you can find out what nests are around you (and even search on specific species of Pokémon) using The Silph Road’s Nest Atlas tool. This tool features reliable crowd-sourced information from Pokémon Go players all over the world who report the nests they encounter.

If you find an accessible nest of a creature that you need, it’s not a good idea to wait. Nests migrate approximately every two weeks, which means many of the nests near you will be replaced by another creature. The silver lining is that the Weedle nest next to your house could very well become a Kabuto nest for a couple of weeks. 

What Pokémon are region-exclusive?

Just like in the mainline Pokémon games, some monsters can only be found in certain regions. While Niantic has remained steadfast in keeping some the regional exclusives just that, it has bent the rules in some select instances like Pokémon Go Fest in Chicago where Heracross appeared, and the European Safari Zone event.

Check out the full list of known regional exclusives below.

  • Tauros – North America
  • Farfetch’d – Asia
  • Mr. Mime – Europe
  • Kangaskhan – Australia
  • Heracross – Central and South America, Southern Florida and Texas
  • Corsola – Tropical Regions (within approximately 30 degrees of the equator)
  • Zangoose – Rotates
  • Seviper – Rotates
  • Relicanth – New Zealand
  • Solrock – Rotates
  • Lunatone – Europe, Asia, and Australia during nighttime
  • Torkoal – South Asia
  • Illumise – North America, South America, Africa
  • Volbeat – Europe, Asia, Australia
  • Tropius – Africa, Middle East

[Source: Reddit]

Eggs

What do I get from eggs?

If you can’t find a particular Pokémon, sometimes the best way to find it is to leave it up to the roulette that is hatching eggs. You get eggs from PokéStops and can hold up to nine at a time. In order to hatch eggs, you must equip an incubator and walk the distance required for the type of egg it is.

Each trainer is provided one incubator that can be used an infinite number of times. Additional incubators can be earned through leveling up (though that becomes much rarer at higher levels), but the easiest way to get more incubators is to buy them for 150 Pokécoins each in Pokémon Go’s in-app shop. Unfortunately, every incubator earned or purchased outside of the original one can only be used to hatch three eggs.

A popular strategy is to use limited-use incubators on 5km and 10km eggs, while only using the unlimited-use incubator every trainer has on the multitude of 2km eggs you’re sure to encounter. This will ensure you don’t burn through your premium incubators on eggs that not only hatch quickly, but are also less likely to yield anything good. In addition, the higher the egg distance, the more candy you’ll receive for the Pokémon that hatches.

These eggs look different based on how far you must walk to hatch them. 2km eggs are colored with green spots, 5km eggs feature yellow spots, while 10km eggs have blue spots. While it might sound like you’d only want 2km eggs so that you can burn through them and gather as many Pokémon as quickly as possible, the higher the distance required by the egg, the better the pool of Pokémon is that can hatch from it.

You cannot acquire regional-exclusive Pokémon from eggs not found in those regions, and stats have shown that if you visit the same PokéStops every day, you’ll likely hatch the same handful of Pokémon each time. In addition, only the most basic form of that Pokémon’s evolution chain is able to be hatched, meaning you’ll never find a Tyranitar or Dragonite in your eggs, but rather those Pokémon’s pre-evolution forms, Larvitar and Dratini.

Beginning in June 2018 with the introduction of friend gifts, a 7km egg was introduced. 7km eggs are only obtainable by receiving a gift from a friend when you have at least one egg slot open. At their introduction, 7km eggs hatch Alolan variants of Kanto Pokémon.

To see what species of Pokémon come from each egg type, check out the most recent list below.

2km Eggs

  • Charmander
  • Machop
  • Abra
  • Togepi
  • Pichu
  • Poochyena
  • Wurmple
  • Wailmer
  • Spheal
  • Bulbasaur
  • Krabby
  • Exeggcute
  • Gastly
  • Remoraid
  • Igglybuff
  • Gulpin
  • Luvdisc
  • Aron
  • Taillow
  • Squirtle
  • Slowpoke
  • Oddish
  • Cleffa
  • Shuckle
  • Zigzagoon
  • Spoink
  • Whismur
  • Swablu

    5km Eggs

    • Chikorita
    • Pinsir
    • Mantine
    • Sneasel
    • Rhyhorn
    • Omanyte
    • Lickitung
    • Elekid
    • Sandshrew
    • Growlithe
    • Magnemite
    • Onix
    • Psyduck
    • Seel
    • Vulpix
    • Tyrogue
    • Treecko
    • Shroomish
    • Azurill
    • Corphish
    • Cacnea
    • Cyndaquil
    • Scyther
    • Stantler
    • Girafarig
    • Dunsparce
    • Kabuto
    • Grimer
    • Magby
    • Phanpy
    • Houndour
    • Pineco
    • Shellder
    • Staryu
    • Mudkip
    • Shuppet
    • Duskull
    • Carvanha
    • Anorith
    • Numel
    • Totodile
    • Tangela
    • Ponyta
    • Yanma
    • Smoochum
    • Teddiursa
    • Koffing
    • Eevee
    • Tentacool
    • Paras
    • Torchic
    • Makuhita
    • Wynaut
    • Lotad
    • Lileep
    • Baltoy
    • Nosepass
    • Whismur
    • Lileep

    7km Eggs

    • Grimer (Alolan)
    • Meowth (Alolan)
    • Sandshrew (Alolan)
    • Vulpix (Alolan)

    10km Eggs

    • Chansey
    • Aerodactyl
    • Sudowoodo
    • Porygon
    • Chinchou
    • Mareep
    • Trapinch
    • Chimecho
    • Beldum
    • Lapras
    • Miltank
    • Skarmory
    • Larvitar
    • Dratini
    • Slakoth
    • Ralts
    • Feebas
    • Bagon

    [Source: Ranked Boost]

    Gen 4 Evolutions and the Shop

    Sometimes, Pokémon from previous generations get a new evolution in a future generation, right? Which Pokémon should I save up for in the future?

    We’ve seen Pokémon from Gen 1 get new evolutions in Gen 2, and Gen 4 is a huge one for new evolutions of preexisting monsters. You should start saving candies for the following monsters to prepare for the launch of Gen 4.

    Pokémon from Gen 1:

    • Eevee (Glaceon, Leafeon)
    • Electabuzz (Electivire)
    • Lickitung (Lickilicky)
    • Magmar (Magmortar)
    • Magneton (Magnezone)
    • Rhydon (Rhyperior)
    • Tangela (Tangrowth)

    Pokémon from Gen 2:

    • Aipom (Ambipom)
    • Gligar (Gliscor)
    • Misdreavus (Mismagius)
    • Murkrow (Honchkrow)
    • Piloswine (Mamoswine)
    • Porygon2 (Porygon-Z)
    • Sneasel (Weavile)
    • Togetic (Togekiss)
    • Yanma (Yanmega)

    Pokémon from Gen 3:

    • Dusclops (Dusknoir)
    • Kirlia (Gallade)
    • Nosepass (Probopass)
    • Roselia (Roserade)
    • Snorunt (Froslass)

    [Source: Reddit]

    How do I get coins and what do they do for me?

    Pokécoins are the currency in Pokémon Go, and for many, they represent the free-to-play “catch.” Coins can be used to purchase:

    • Poké Balls
    • Revives
    • Raid Passes
    • Potions
    • Incense
    • Lucky Eggs
    • Lure Modules
    • Egg Incubators
    • Bag Upgrades
    • Pokémon Storage Upgrades

    If you’re trying to fill out your Pokédex, your best bet is probably to spend your coins on incubators, though a storage/bag upgrade or two will make things much easier on you. Lucky Eggs are good for if you’re trying to up your player level, and Lure Modules are good for if you like hanging around an area with a PokéStop for at least 30 minutes. Poké Balls are often looked at as the worst value in the shop unless you rarely visit an area with multiple PokéStops, or you are in desperate need of some.

    You earn coins by placing your Pokémon in a gym. For every 10 minutes your Pokémon occupies a gym, you earn a Pokécoin. However, you do not receive those coins until your Pokémon is knocked out of the gym. In addition you are capped at earning 50 coins per day, so it doesn’t matter if you have one Pokémon in a gym for 10 hours, or Pokémon spread across seven gyms for weeks on end; if they get knocked out on the same day, you’re only getting 50 coins total.

    Alternately, you can purchase coins using real money. Coins are the only element of the game that can be purchased with real-world currency; you cannot buy stardust, Pokémon candies, or evolution items.

    Which Pokémon are rare?

    The list of “rare” Pokémon varies greatly depending on where you are located, but there are a few that are generally considered to be rare. Pokémon like Dratini, Dragonair, Dragonite, Lapras, Chansey, Blissey, Gyarados, Porygon, Unown, Snorlax, Aerodactyl, Larvitar, Pupitar, Tyranitar, Feebas, Milotic. Lotad, Lombre, Ludicolo, Trapinch, Vibrava, and Flygon, are typically considered the rarest, though some appear more commonly in some areas.

    Community Day and Shiny Pokémon

    What is Community Day?

    Beginning January 2018, each month has featured one Pokémon for three hours in a Community Day. During that window, the designated Pokémon appears everywhere. If you evolve the Pokémon all the way up to its ultimate form within that window, that Pokémon will know a move exclusive to the Community Day. In addition, shiny variants of the featured Pokémon spawn more frequently, giving players a chance to nab an extremely rare version of the featured monster.

    You can see which Pokémon have been featured during Community Day below.

    • January 20, 2018 – Pikachu
    • February 24, 2018 – Dratini
    • March 25, 2018 – Bulbasaur
    • April 15, 2018 – Mareep
    • May 19, 2018 – Charmander
    • June 16, 2018 – Larvitar
    • July 8, 2018 – Squirtle

    What are “shiny” Pokémon and how do I get one?

    Shiny Pokémon are different colored versions of existing creatures. They don’t include any kind of special stat boost or exclusive moves, but they look different. Shiny Pokémon are typically extremely rare, but they are known to become slightly more common during certain events including Community Days. When you evolve a shiny variant of a Pokémon, the evolved form will also be shiny and of a different color.

    The following Pokémon are currently available with shiny versions:

    • Absol
    • Aggron
    • Ampharos
    • Altaria
    • Aron
    • Banette
    • Blastoise
    • Bulbasaur
    • Charizard
    • Charmander
    • Charmeleon
    • Cloyster
    • Dragonair
    • Dragonite
    • Dratini
    • Dusclops
    • Duskull
    • Flaafy
    • Gyarados
    • Hariyama
    • Ivysaur
    • Kabuto
    • Kabutops
    • Kyogre
    • Lairon
    • Larvitar
    • Lugia
    • Luvdisc
    • Makuhita
    • Magby
    • Magikarp
    • Magmar
    • Mareep
    • Mawile
    • Medicham
    • Meditite
    • Mightyena
    • Murkrow
    • Omanyte
    • Omastar
    • Pikachu
    • Poochyena
    • Pupitar
    • Raichu
    • Shellder
    • Shuppet
    • Squirtle
    • Swablu
    • Togepi
    • Togetic
    • Tyranitar
    • Venusaur
    • Wailmer
    • Wailord
    • Wartortle
    • Wobbuffet
    • Wynaut

    [Source: Pokémon Go Wikia]

    What are Alolan forms?

    In Pokémon Sun and Moon of the mainline games, players travel to the Alola region. There, you encounter Pokémon from the first seven generations of the series. However, some of the Gen 1 creatures found in Alola have distinct appearances, and different or additional types to the ones you find in other regions. Beginning on May 29, 2018, Pokémon Go began introducing the Alolan variants of Kanto creatures into the game beginning with Alolan Exeggutor.

    With the introduction of trading and friend gifts on June 21, 2018, you can now receive special 7 km eggs from friends. These eggs can hatch Alolan variants of Kanto Pokémon. Some Alolan variants, such as Rattata, as able to be caught in the wild.

    Check out the Alolan variants that exist below.

    • Diglett (Ground/Steel)
    • Dugtrio (Ground/Steel)
    • Exeggutor (Grass/Dragon)
    • Geodude (Rock/Electric)
    • Golem (Rock/Electric)
    • Graveler (Rock/Electric)
    • Grimer (Poison/Dark)
    • Marowak (Fire/Ghost)
    • Meowth (Dark)
    • Muk (Poison/Dark)
    • Ninetails (Ice/Fairy)
    • Persian (Dark)
    • Raichu (Electric/Psychic)
    • Raticate (Dark/Normal)
    • Rattata (Dark/Normal)
    • Sandshrew (Ice/Steel)
    • Sandslash (Ice/Steel)
    • Vulpix (Ice)
    Evolution Items and Berries

    What are evolution items?

    Before the Gen 2 Pokémon were introduced, all you needed to do to evolve a Pokémon was to catch enough of that creature to collect the right amount of candy. Since the introduction of the second generation of monsters, however, several Pokémon now require candy plus a special evolution item in order to get them to evolve.

    These evolution items are found at PokéStops, though they are much rarer than items like potions and Pokéballs. Your best bet to acquire one of these evolution items is to hit at least one Pokéstop every day for seven days in a row. On the seventh day, the game awards you with a larger haul of items, increasing the chances of receiving a rare evolution item.

    Each evolution item works with a very specific set of Pokémon, which you can see below.

    • King’s Rock

      • Helps Poliwhirl evolve into Politoed (100 Candies)
      • Helps Slowpoke evolve into Slowking (50 Candies)
    • Dragon Scale
      • Helps Seadra evolve into Kingdra (50 Candies)
    • Metal Coat
      • Helps Onix evolve into Steelix (50 Candies)
      • Helps Scyther evolve into Scizor (50 Candies)
    • Sun Stone
      • Helps Gloom evolve into Bellossom (100 Candies)
      • Helps Sunkern evolve into Sunflora (50 Candies)
    • Up-Grade
      • Helps Porygon evolve into Porygon2 (50 Candies)

    What do berries do?

    There are currently four types of berries in Pokémon Go that are meant to help you with the capture of wild Pokémon. You obtain these randomly through activating PokéStops (with the exception of Golden Razz Berries, which can only be earned in Raids). The Razz Berry was originally the only berry in the game, but with the introduction of Gen 2 monsters, Niantic has introduced Pinap Berries and Nanab Berries. When Raids were introduced in summer 2017, Golden Razz Berries were also introduced. You can only feed one berry to a Pokémon at a time, but the effect wears off if the creature escapes from a ball. If you miss your throw, the effect does not wear off. See what each berry does below.

    • Razz Berry – Makes the wild Pokémon easier to catch
    • Golden Razz Berry – Makes the wild Pokémon much easier to catch
    • Pinap Berry – Causes the wild Pokémon to reward you with double candy if you catch it
    • Nanab Berry – Makes the wild Pokémon’s on-screen movement less erratic

    What Pokémon aren’t in the game?

    In addition to every Pokémon that debuted after Gen 2 (Pokémon Gold/Silver), several monsters are still not in the game. You can see the latest list of creatures that have yet to be found in Pokémon Go below. Gen 3 has debuted, but only a selection of the Hoenn region monsters are included as of December 2017. The following Pokémon (as well as every Pokémon Gen 4 and beyond) are still yet to be discovered in Pokémon Go:

    • Celebi
    • Smeargle
    • Spinda
    • Kecleon
    • Clamperl
    • Huntail
    • Gorebyss
    • Jirachi
    • Deoxys

    Can I trade Pokémon with friends?

    Initially teased in a September 2015 announce trailer, Pokémon Go finally introduced trading and a friends list in June 2018. Using your friends list, you level up friends with every interaction you have with them. The more you trade and send gifts with them, the higher your in-game bond with that friend is. The stronger your bond with a friend on your list, the less stardust it costs to trade with them.

    To trade, you must be in-game friends with the trainer you hope to swap with. While you can send gift packages you receive from Poké Stops to any trainer you’re friends with, you must be within 100 meters of a trainer you want to trade with. Trades that involve Legendary Pokémon, Shiny Pokémon, or Pokémon not in one of the players’ Pokédex is considered a Special Trade. In addition to costing a lot of Stardust (sometimes as much as 1,000,000 for low-level friends), you can only execute one special trade per day. This means you’re finally able to get those regional monsters without traveling, but it’s going to cost you Stardust.

    When you swap Pokémon, they sometimes bring bonus candy with them. The further apart the Pokémon were caught from each other, the more candy they bring. This distance bonus maxes out at around 100km. Stats, such as CP and HP, change when a Pokémon is traded, so just because you send someone a strong Pokémon, that doesn’t mean it’ll be as strong when it arrives in their inventory.

    We’ll update this section once we have more details on the trading.

    What is Pokémon Go Plus?

    Pokémon Go Plus is an external device that links to your phone to let you passively play without having your phone open. It tracks distance for eggs and buddy candy, and even lets you catch Pokémon. You can read our full impressions here. Unfortunately for iPhone users, the device has had several issues since the release of iOS 11.

    Another way to play Pokémon Go without having your phone constantly open is if you own an Apple Watch. Using the Apple Watch app for Pokémon Go, you can earn distance using the watch’s pedometer, meaning you can earn distance doing stationary exercises, and get alerted of nearby Pokémon and PokéStops. Unfortunately, the app has stability issues, which you can read about here.

    In addition, the Poké Ball Plus accessory launching alongside Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu for Nintendo Switch this November functions as a Pokémon Go Plus in addition to its controller functionality.

    The Legend of Zelda’s score has run the gamut, from epic to morose to pirate-y. But this new cover of Skyward Sword’s main theme argues that bluegrass might be the most fitting style of them all. 

    Although their full album doesn’t come out for another few days, The Hit Points have dropped us this sample of their work early. Banjos and fiddles take the place of Skyward Sword’s harps and brass, but the spirit of high-flying adventure remains. 

    The Hit Points’ self-titled debut album includes pieces from Street Fighter, Skyrim, and a cover of the athletic theme from Super Mario World that needs to be heard to be believed. It’s available for pre-order right here, and will be released this Friday.

    The lawsuit filed by PUBG Corp. against Epic Games has been dropped, according to Bloomberg. The financial-news organization says that the South Korean case has been closed, but was unable to confirm the reasons why or if a settlement had been reached between the two companies.

    PUBG Corp. filed the lawsuit in January, citing similarities between PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite’s Battle Royale that it claimed crossed the line into copyright infringement. Oddly enough, both companies are partially owned by the Chinese tech company Tencent.

    [Source: Bloomberg]

    Prime Cut Paranoia

    Arkane Studios’ immersive reboot of Prey was entertaining, even if it lurked a little too long in the shadows of Deus Ex and System Shock for its own good. I loved exploring the mysterious space station Talos 1 and learning how to bypass obstacles by turning into coffee cups or raising former crewmates to fight my battles. However, tedious backtracking and dull combat often muddied Prey’s offerings. The Mooncrash expansion pack remedies most of the base game’s ills and creates the experience I wish I had played last year.

    Mooncrash is a side story, taking place after the base game. You assume the role of Peter, a hacker working for TranStar’s chief competitor, Kasma Corporation. Peter’s been monitoring TranStar’s secret lunar base. Something’s gone wrong on the moon, and he has to find out why by running simulations of five base personnel who made it off the base, then recording that data for Kasma. The setup is delightfully odd,  a strange structure that wisely puts experimentation with Prey’s enjoyable toolbox of skills and weapons first, even if (once again) the narrative payoff is lacking.

    The narrative wrapper requires that you play as all five crewmates. Each one represents a different character build you might have made during the Prey campaign, like the gifted mentalist who has access to a ridiculous arsenal of powers (such as telekinesis or energy blasts) but limited health, and the security officer who’s good with a gun. While the universal goal for everyone is to escape the moon by any means possible, each character also has a special objective for you to complete. Most of them are enjoyable short stories that give you a little insight into each character, like the security officer’s friendship with a custodian who’s actually a backstabbing Kasma operative. The tales make each playthrough more interesting than just getting out alive. You also have to complete certain story missions to unlock other characters.

    Mooncrash’s biggest feature is its roguelike ambitions, which is the expansion’s biggest success and failure. If one of your characters is killed by an enemy or environmental negligence, the whole simulation resets, wiping out your progress and creating a new base where enemy and item layouts are randomized. To make matters worse,  a corruption timer ticks away during every simulation. With every new level of corruption it reaches, enemies you’ve killed respawn stronger than they were before. Once corruption hits level five, the simulation crashes. Though you have a way to reset the corruption level counter, the countdown is more of an annoyance and resource drain than a mechanic that intensifies gameplay.

    To help alleviate the stress of losing everything, discovering fabrication plans for items during a simulation means you can purchase those items before each run using skill points earned by accomplishing objectives, discovering items, and killing monsters. While it might sting to lose your characters’ progress in a simulation wipe, at least you can start the next run with that high damage dealing pistol you crafted (if you’ve got enough skill points), keeping losses from being too frustrating.

    One of Mooncrash’s wrinkles that I love is how every choice you make affects all the characters in that simulation. For example, you might be tempted to take all the snacks you find in one area to replenish your health, but it means that another character won’t be able to access them. A bigger, more concerning example is that the moon only has five ways to escape. If you use the shuttle to escape with your first character, you can’t use it again to escape with another. Each escape method is also more than just discovering and selecting the method. A second or even third step is always involved, like searching out a pilot’s corpse and injecting their knowledge of flight into your brain so you can escape with the shuttle. These objectives are enticing to the point that I don’t want to spoil any of the others here, but rest assured: plenty of zany and grotesque sci-fi story beats are waiting to be found. The multi-tiered objectives liven up every area, and character playthrough makes exploration an exciting prospect as opposed to the tedious backtracking that made Talos 1 feel woefully underused.

    Like Prey, the expansion pack rewards only those who play carefully, sneaking around corners, scavenging everything in sight, and wisely managing resources. Unless you go in guns blazing or have tremendously bad luck, you can get out of most scraps if you take the time to study your character’s abilities and play to your strengths. While this might sound disappointing to those expecting a hardcore challenge, I never felt the tense atmosphere relent, knowing that every mistake could cost me all my progress with these characters. Deadly encounters with the dreaded psychic behemoth telepath left me running to lick my wounds and restock on ammo and objects as the timer ticked down. Following up those moments with a Hail Mary play is an exhilarating experience, like sucking the horde of enemies about to lay the killing blow into a miniature (and fatal) dark hole with a special grenade.

    Those who yearn for more gadgets will be disappointed, as Mooncrash only offers a few, such as the admittedly cool Psychostatic Cutter energy dagger. However, the expansion pack’s achievement is more substantial than a bunch of doodads thanks to how it takes the promise of the base game, slices out the fat around it, and then serves up an experience as thrilling as it is challenging.  Arkane Studios excels at creating fun, inventive playgrounds in which players are given a bevy of tools that wreak havoc and create memorable moments. In that regard, Mooncrash ranks among the developer’s strongest offerings.

     

    Fortnite’s v4.5 update introduces the Playground limited-time practice mode, but it’s off to a rough start as Epic has already temporarily taken it down due to some matchmaking issues it’s causing.

    The update also includes map markers for friendly units, dual pistols, Blockbuster event part 4, the seasonal fireworks launcher, and more.

    In other Fortnite news, Epic has announced that Season 5 is coming on July 12 at 4 a.m. EDT, and there’s a double XP promo happening this weekend to help you get there.

    [Source: Epic Games (1), (2), (3)]

    One of the unwitting stories of E3 was Fortnite fans’ anger that the PS4 in particular did not support cross-platform play like the other platforms hosting the title.

    At a Gamelab conference in Spain, Eurogamer asked Sony Computer Interactive America president and CEO Shawn Layden about the issue, and Layden had this to say:

    “We’re hearing it. We’re looking at a lot of the possibilities. You can imagine that the circumstances around that affect a lot more than just one game. I’m confident we’ll get to a solution which will be understood and accepted by our gaming community, while at the same time supporting our business.”

    The last part of Layden’s statement may be the key, according to former Sony Online CEO John Smedley, who recently said the whole situation was purely about money.

    [Source: Eurogamer]

    Announced earlier this year, the Donkey Kong Adventure DLC for Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, has finally released for everyone. Season pass holders got their hands on the campaign last night, but it is purchasable today on the Switch eShop.

    The new campaign puts Donkey Kong on a team with Rabbid Peach and Rabbid Cranky and tasks the three of them with saving Donkey Kong Island from Rabbid Kong, who has gained power from magic bananas. This DLC is the first and thus far only bit of story DLC for the tactical RPG which Jeff M. called his “favorite Mario game in recent years.

    You can download the DLC now from the Switch eShop and don’t miss our conversation with composer Grant Kirkhope during our E3 episode of The GI Show.

    Ever since Hideo Kojima chose to go with Kiefer Sutherland as the voice of Venom Snake in Metal Gear Solid V, the question of whether David Hayter would ever return to Solid Snake. Sure, he’s been confirmed as the voice of Snake in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, but considering the things Hayter said about Konami, would the publisher ever bring him back?

    It turns out the answer is yes, at least as a guest character in Super Bomberman R. As part of the next update, the Bomberman game is bridging the gap to Metal Gear World, which means that Solid Snake and Naked Snake, both voiced by Hayter as they originally were, are coming in. Raiden in his Metal Gear Rising design also makes an appearance, as does Motherbase from Metal Gear Solid V as a new map. The voice work is not surprising, considering Konami went through some lengths to get Master Chief’s and Ratchet’s voice actors for their guest appearances in the game.

    Konami also announced a number of other guest characters coming into the game, including Legend of the Mystical Ninja’s Ebisumaru, Contra’s Lance and Bill, Zone of the Enders/Gradius’ Vic Viper, and Tokimeki Memorial’s Ayako Katagiri.

    Additionally, WWE wrestler Xavier Woods is also joining the bombing festivities. 

    The video at the end only showed the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC boxes, but Konami has confirmed on Twitter that the Switch update with all these things is live now. The Switch’s console-specific guest character, Max from the Gameboy Bomberman game Bomberman Max, is also part of the update.

    Super Bomberman R is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch.

    DrDisrespect, a streamer who dons a costume and found success playing PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, tweeted out today a picture of a pickaxe themed after his persona. The pickace has a switchblade on one side and a comb on the other and is colored with DrDisrespect’s traditional red and black colors.

    The concept was created by a fan of the streamer, Danny Dufford, who tweeted out the streamer-themed pickaxe and tagged him in it. DrDisrespect’s tweet didn’t identify Dufford as the creator, but Dufford linked the original tweet in the replies.

    What do you think? Does a DrDisrepect weapon have legs in Fortnite?