After select metropolitan areas in the United States have had it since what feels like forever now, Niantic, Inc., the developers of smash-hit mobile game Pokémon GO, have finally extended the roll out of the long-awaited “Nearby” feature this morning; launching across continental America and parts of Europe this morning. For someone like myself, trapped in the isolated British countryside and far away from the hip and trendy setting of Watch_Dogs 2, this is perfect.
A replacement for the broken and dearly missed tracking system from Pokémon GO’s launch, the updated “Nearby” feature shows you what Pokémon are lurking around nearby PokéStops (markers at notable locations, for the uninitiated. Initially, there were concerns over how useful this would be to rural players, as surely the idea was to help San Francisco players determine which of the twelve PokéStops on a street that Dragonite is at before their Pumpkin Spice Latte gets cold? However, this is just as – if not more – useful for players with only one, or two very spaced out PokéStops.
I live in a village caught some distance between far more interesting locations whose PokéStops are spread out and on complete opposite sides of the village. I’ve lost count of the interesting Pokémon missed due to despawning as I’ve had to guess the direction they’re in – something that is now, happily, a thing of the past. Instead of a vague list of Pokémon lurking somewhere in your general vicinity, the new “Nearby” feature lets you know precisely what is lurking at your local PokéStops, like so:
For someone not familiar with my village, the above image may admittedly be confusing. However, because Bottisham is filled with “excitement”, I know exactly where that bench is (in the churchyard). This was especially useful when, a few minutes later, something far more interesting spawned:
For reference, the sign where I found Wartortle is roughly a 10 minute walk from my house, so before this update, I would no doubt have missed Wartortle due to checking other spawn points first. With this update however, I know precisely where to go, as the Pokémon is guaranteed to be at that particular PokéStop. This was also early in the very first morning the new system was available, so who knows what I’ll find in the near future!
There is a downside however, in that Pokémon located elsewhere won’t show up on your radar – such as a Mr. Mime that popped up in a residential area en route to Mr. Mime. This could be detrimental to players in areas with no PokéStops at all, or spawn points located some distance from them.
It would be helpful if “Sightings” were displayed alongside “Nearby” (as I believe was the case during early testing?), but if it became a case of one over the other, then this new “Nearby” functionality beats “Sightings” by a country mile.
Disclaimer: “Pokémon GO” is currently available on both iOS and Android mobile devices. While the game is free to download and play, there are optional micro-transactions.