Among all of the new features that are related to the Go Beyond update for Pokemon Go, the most far-reaching part has to be the level-cap increase. It gives players more goals to strive for and higher potential power on their Pokemon. However, how good is this update in actuality? Right now, it’s a fairly severe source of contention for many players in the community, but is it worthy of the criticism? The goal of this article is to give an honest review of the updates and to lay out the good, the neutral, and the bad aspects of Go Beyond.
Trainer Level 40, Pokemon Level 50
Up until now, players have been able to raise the level of a Pokemon to their trainer level +2. This means that a Lv.28 player could raise their Pokemon to the extremely valuable Lv.30, and a Lv.38 player could bring their Pokemon to the full power of Lv.40.
This system now ends with the addition of Levels 41-50, as once a player reaches Level 40 and is able to collect XL Candy, it will be possible to raise a given Pokemon all the way up to Lv.50 given the resources.
This is a great new system because, let’s face it, the requirements for Lv.50 are steep. While reaching Lv.40 and its 20 Million XP requirement is a large task, it’s doable in a year or so with moderate levels of smart play. Meanwhile, the 176 million XP requirement for Lv.50 is nearly nine times higher. While Niantic has already pushed XP updates that basically double most XP-gaining activities, it’s still very likely that it will take at quite a while to reach this level for even the most dedicated players, assuming the four years of grinding that many have done since the game's release hasn't been enough. However, The level cap on Pokemon unlocking at Lv.40 basically leaves this a largely moot point.
So why is this important? Well, the main reason is the fact that the Master League is a continued part of the Go Battle League. With Go Battle League becoming more and more of a focus for many players, the inability to raise a Pokemon to its max level early would reserve this entire league almost strictly to the “whales” of the game that have already gone the extra mile. However, the new addition of Master League Classic, a Go Battle League mode that caps Pokemon at level 40, this has become far less of an issue.
The Low CP Multiplier
Without getting too technical on this matter, a Lv.50 Pokemon will be about 6% stronger than a Lv.40 Pokemon. This is a respectable boost, but not a huge one. So why is this a good thing? Because it means that a Lv.38 player won’t be horribly outclassed by a Lv.50 player in a raid given the same Pokemon. If the boost was 10% or more, then players with Lv.50 counters would be more likely to ignore low-leveled players than they are now
So how about the effect on PvP? Well, we touched on that a bit in the previous section, and will address it again later in this article.
Keeping Our Pre-Earned XP
When Lv.50 information was beginning to circulate thanks to datamines that started to surface a month or two ago, it was discovered that leveling up past 40 was going to be a bit different. This led many to fear that their hard-earned XP beyond Lv.40 was destined to simply go to waste. It’s now well known that our existing XP count will indeed allow us to level up past 40, which puts many of us at ease.
On this note, it’s already been determined that when Lv.50 sees its global release, I will be the lowest leveled member of the Gamepress team by a decent margin. Just a fun little bit of information.
With higher level caps, more Pokemon are going to become viable in CP-restricted formats. For example: Medicham may see renewed utility in the Great League as its CP can now actually reach 1500, and Umbreon now comes close to the big 2500 for the Ultra League. This is generally a very good thing, as it opens the playing field even more and provides more options moving forward. Our very own Lorma 96 wrote two outstanding articles on this very matter, so check them out if you haven't already.
Beyond Lv.40 Is Pure Prestige
So if we can level a Pokemon to Lv.50 as soon as we hit Lv.40 given the resources, what exactly does reaching Lv.50 give us? Aside from a few level-up items (including Lucky Eggs at Lv.50 apparently, which hints at this not being the end), new avatar items/poses, and the resources that come from playing the countless hours needed to reach this level? Absolutely nothing. Level 50 will be a badge that says how dedicated a player is, and that’s about it. And honestly: that’s a good thing!
As already dealt with, a Lv.40 player can potentially go into the Master League against a Lv.50 trainer and battle without inequality. This fact deflates a fair amount of elitism, and makes the game feel more relaxed. No one “has” to reach Lv.50 to be competitive in this game, and that the end-game less a mountain with a steep peak and more a large plateau (an Indigo plateau, perhaps?) where the top echelon of players can meet regardless of if they started on day one or during the Covid-19 pandemic. In that regard, the final 10 levels are fairly well managed.
Level-Up XP Requirements and Quests
This is largely a matter of personal preference. For those who are happy with just hitting an XP threshold and instantly reaping those benefits, this is an added lair of time and energy that don’t need to be spent. But for those of us who enjoy challenging ourselves, this is the proverbial boss battle at the end of each trek. It lets us test ourselves a bit and make that one final strive before obtaining the next level.
For these reasons, the good/bad of having added quests to reach a given level beyond Lv.40 will vary greatly from person to person, and they’re all right in their own way.
Higher Emphasis On Planning
As will be evident a little farther down in this article, Pokemon Go’s status as a resource management game is about to become far, far more calculated than before. Proper planning will be more important than it ever has been, and mis-management of stardust and candy, even at early levels, will likely make the game even harder down the road. Planning your strategies for maximizing your resources is about to become more important than ever, meaning keeping an eye on what Pokemon are generally important and can provide the most far-reaching benefits to gameplay will continue to be the corner-stone of smart gameplay, even more so moving forward.
Face it; we all knew that this was coming. The XL Candy System is just plainly bad!
Back when Pokemon Go was first released, the only sources of candy in the entire game came from catching and transferring Pokemon. We had no rare candies, no trading, and no gym berry feeding. The first change to this system came from one of the most simple yet far-reaching updates that Pokemon Go has ever received: Walking Pokemon! Back then, the only things that walking a Pokemon did was reward candy and show distance walked on that Pokemon’s status page, but it was revolutionary as we didn’t have to leave our candy supply up to chance. Did you catch a Dratini in an area where they’re super-rare? You can hope that you find another in the next six months, hope that a random 10k egg gives you more candy, and now you can actually farm candy!
With the release of the Mega Evolution system, this exact same issue came right back into the forefront. We have an important resource that’s species-specific, but no possible way to farm it reliably ourselves. This was the source of a huge, community-wide outrage that forced Niantic to rethink their strategies and… you guessed it…. allow us to farm Mega Energy by walking Pokemon.
It’s only been a few months since the Mega Evolution debacle, and guess what? We’re right back where we started! Sure, XL candy is easier to obtain, and we can technically farm it by trading in normal candy (at a rate of 100:1), but once again we have no reliable and viable method of obtaining it for a given species! This is made especially harsh given the temporary nature of Legendary Pokemon raids. Sure, we can get a few XL candy per capture of the raid boss, but what happens when the boss leaves the rotation? And even then, what happens if we fail to actually capture the boss? That’s a huge drain on resources for what is, on average, one hundredth of what we need to raise a Pokemon from 40 to 50. Now multiply that by every Kyogre, Dialga, Groudon, Zekrom, Rayquaza, Mewtwo, ect. that we still have to raise, and this is a ridiculously steep and player-hostile system that will take forever to surmount and plainly doesn’t give us much return on investment at all.
Fixing the XL Candy Issue
It’s easy to just say “make XL Candy more common” and think that it will fix the issue. However, we still have the problem with Legendaries, much less the Mythical Pokemon that we can’t catch more than one of. No, the two most basic answers are just to expound on what we have now.
First up: let us walk for XL Candy. Going from 40-50 isn’t some great, legendary undertaking; it’s obtaining the new gameplay standard, so XL Candy shouldn’t be treated like some kind of mythical, rare resource. It takes about as many XL candies to go from 40-50 as it takes normal candies to go from 20-40, and they can’t be obtained until Lv.40, so they should be about as common as normal candy in reality. For these reasons, XL candy should be farmable via walking. Perhaps giving us 1 XL candy for every 2-3 normal candies earned would be fair (though still very taxing for Legendaries), but this would at least give us some way to level up our Legendary Pokemon without waiting for their returns/spending around 50-100 raid passes.
The second way is to make XL Rare Candy a fairly common resource. As of right now, reports are that XL Rare Candy is… rare. It doesn’t drop from raids very often, which limits it heavily. This is downright unacceptable for the reasons listed above, and really should be as common as normal rare candy and obtainable from all raid levels. Doing a 5 star raid? Then we should expect 5-12 XL Rare Candies on average. How about a 1 star raid? 1-4 XL Rare Candies is reasonable.
Despite all of this, when all is said and done, Niantic has confirmed that they're considering redoing the XL Candy system! Expect this to take a while, just like the aforementioned Mega Energy system's update, but hopefully this will no longer be such a glaring issue in the near future!
Finally, we're also discussing tweaks to how Candy XL can be collected in future updates. Please note that Candy XL temporarily cannot be earned from trades while we make some adjustments.— Niantic Support (@NianticHelp) November 30, 2020
Candy is one of the main resources used to power up Pokemon, and guess what: Stardust is the other. And it’s also about to become a bigger problem than it is now!
As of right now, it takes 225,000 stardust to power up a newly hatched/raided lv.20 Pokemon to Lv.40. And soon, it will take an additional 245,000 stardust to raise the same Pokemon from Lv.40 to lv.50. That’s 470,000 Stardust to max a Lv.20 Pokemon, and we’re apparently not going to see any increases in stardust acquisition. For this reason, the value of stardust is about to undergo severe inflation; it will have around ½ of its current value for maxing a Pokemon.
Fixing the Stardust Issue
This one is a little bit harder. If we make stardust easier to obtain, then lower levels become far, far easier as a result. One fix is something similar to the existing XL Candy system: give players greater Stardust games once they hit Lv.40. Even a constantly active 10% boost could help greatly in the long run, especially as more powerful Pokemon are released and movesets are tweaked.
Another possibility would be to give us a discount on raising Pokemon when our characters reach or pass 40. While this is unlikely to occur due to the fact that the system is still new and the stardust requirements from 41-50 are already set, perhaps a discount on any level below 41 could be implemented?
Overall, this is a difficult topic to handle. “Fixing” it could make it too easy to obtain, so it’s most likely that Niantic’s plan for this is simply “more events”.
Remember how increasing the CP of Pokemon was a pro a few points ago? Well, now let’s look at the other side of the coin. As the level cap increases, so too does the power of our Pokemon. However, not all Pokemon are gaining power equally, and this can be an issue.
First of all, let’s look at raids. On basically any raid graph, you’ll normally find 20+ Pokemon that are viable for a given raid. This isn’t likely to change much moving forward, but as high-powered Pokemon within a given type such as Rampardos for Rock Type gain even more power, borderline Pokemon like Smackdown Tyranitar will fall even farther into obscurity as they don’t gain as much attack power for these new levels. This isn’t a huge deal, but it will tend to make the meta a bit less diverse moving forward.
The bigger issue is in the Master League. As-is, Pokemon with huge stat totals like Dialga, Groudon, and Giratina tend to rule. Now they’re getting even stronger, while more fringe pokemon like Machamp, Rhyperior, and Swampert get less power for the same power-ups. This is likely to push a few Pokemon out of viability a bit more, though it’s also going to make counters to the big-names even more valuable by that same token. As it sits, this doesn’t seem like it will be a huge meta-shift, and movesets can still help to equalize the problem, but it’s definitely going to have at least some effect.
This sounds great, right? Raids are going to become easier because our Pokemon are stronger. How could this be bad?
Well, while we’ve never had a level cap increase, we have had a CP rebalance. This made numerous Pokemon far stronger, and made many raids a lot easier in general. So how did Niantic respond?
They increased raid boss HP.
Yup; we may be on the brink of harder raid bosses to compensate for our new-found power. If the power of our Pokemon and the difficulty of raid bosses increases at a similar level, then the only actual change is that the barrier to build a “good” raid team becomes higher, which does nothing but make the game more of an issue for basically everyone.
Note that this is not a given, and is pure speculation. It’s entirely possible that Niantic will not raise raid boss difficulty to compensate for this new power, but it definitely is a possibility with some precedent that should be watched out for.
In the end, this update does have a few arguably interesting and exciting aspects. However, it’s also weighted down terribly by a very steep set of outright requirements to take advantage of it. Legendary and Mythical Pokemon in particular are going to be extremely difficult to raise, which is particularly bad due to how important these Pokemon are to high-level play. Our best hope for now is that Niantic sees that this is basically a repeat of the Mega Evolution issue.