Seasons of Change: A Retrospective of Seasons in Pokemon Go

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Back when it was first announced near the end of 2020, the Go Beyond update brought a lot to the table in terms of Pokemon Go. XL candy, platinum medals, the level cap increase; this update gave us a fair bit of new content to work with.

But alongside these, one of the systems that is brought to the forefront most commonly by Niantic since the update has to be Seasons. Love them or hate them, they came in like a storm, and started with the Season of Celebration at a time when many players… weren’t really in a mood to celebrate. Since then, we’ve now seen 4 new seasons, with the 5th just revealed today. Since we now have one year under our belts, it seems high time to look back over the seasons thus far and take a look at the good and the bad, and see just where they seem to be going at this point.

Seasons Explained

Seasons are unique 3-month periods that follow a specific theme within Pokemon Go. Each season has a few common parts that are generally shared between them:

  • Seasonal spawns that differ by hemisphere
  • Events that are supposed to fit the theme of the season
  • Seasonal egg-pool changes
  • Seasonal Mega Evolution boosts (frequently changed each month)
  • A different variant of Deerling/Sawsbuck for each season

Alongside these, some seasons also had other overarching bonuses that would attempt to give each season its own unique flavor. Overall, the basic goal was to draw people into the game with an ever-changing “feel” and a unique experience designed to mirror the real-world season in one way or another. They were definitely interesting, and I for one was very excited to see the system implemented. As time has gone on, seasons have evolved a bit, but the majority of their DNA has remained pretty static as the days have lengthened and then shortened again. To help understand exactly what I mean, let’s break each season down.

The Season of Celebration

Season Start Season End
December 1, 2020 March 1, 2021

The Season of Celebration was the start of this system, and it was honestly an appropriate name. On December 1, it started early in the holiday season, and it also was here to commemorate the Go Beyond update that spawned it. This was the season that set the pace for the rest: it gave us all of the previously mentioned common points, but took us into other territory as well. For one, this season had a unique set of Pokemon that would give bonus Stardust on catch, with at least one (Cloyster) offering a whopping 1,100 Stardust on catch. The events for the season were much to be expected, with different Holiday bonuses as we’d seen in the past being the main focus.

How Was the Season of Celebration?

As a starting-point, it was honestly a bit rough. Seasonal spawns were pretty divisive at the time, with some players loving them and others becoming angry that they pushed out other potentially important Pokemon. On top of that, the Pokemon with boosted catch stardust were very rare in general, making that point a bit strange and awkward. In fact, we haven't seen that feature show up since. It also had the issue of not really feeling very thematic past December. The initial announcement touted the connection between seasons and events, but the events honestly felt remarkably normal pretty early in. In fact, while making our Seasons page, I eventually stopped adding the new events because they felt entirely disconnected from the Season of Celebration itself in short order. After December, it was almost as if the seasonal system just barely existed at all.

Overall, I can’t be too hard on the Season of Celebration. Yes, it was far more watered down than it arguably should have been, but it was the starting point for a brand new system. For those reasons, the Season of Celebration gets a pass.

The Season of Legends

Season Start Season End
March 1, 2021 June 1, 2021

This one came in fairly strong! Right off the bat we knew that the long-awaited Incarnate formes of the Forces of Nature were on the way, which immediately started players theorycrafting their future. Moveset changes ended up dropping before their release, but these changes were fortunately not enough to tremendously impact them for the most part. The big take-away from this event was the announcement that it would end with the release of brand new Legendary Pokemon, though the community quickly worked out that it almost had to be Xerneas and Yveltal based on the list of what was still unreleased and available at that point in time.

How Was the Season of Legends?

The Season of Legends was a bit of an improvement over the Season of Celebration. While the events themselves didn’t feel like a part of the season once again, the initial announcement at least confirmed one of the big parts of the event and foreshadowed the other. This had a few problems from the get-go. First was the fact that Xerneas and Yveltal probably weren’t the best Legendary Pokemon to hang the big reveal of the season on. Sure, they’re definitely fan-favorites, but the lack of any meaningful changes to Xerneas made it a massive disappointment, while Yveltal was able to shine a bit brighter than expected, but not bright enough to be a real “highlight” Pokemon. The second was the fact that the release of Legendary Pokemon had always been celebrated as their own things, so this really felt disconnected from the Season of Legends. In the classical story A Conneticut Yankie in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain, a “modern” man is sent back to the days of King Arthur, and in one part of the story he is sentenced to death for his modern oddities. This just happened to occur on a day where the story’s protagonist knew that a total solar eclipse was coming, so he tricked his captors into believing that he could blot out the sun with his magical powers in order to secure his own release. This little aside is what the Season of Legends felt like: an important phenomenon that someone tried to tie to another meaning altogether.

Niantic obviously started to understand theming a bit better here when compared to the Season of Celebration, but they still left us wanting for something better in the end. While the Season of Legends had the makings of greatness, the grand finale was a bit of an anti-climax when compared to the hype that they tried to create. Had they worked out some way to make Xerneas good, then this would have been a win on their part. But pinning their star in part on a weakened deer didn’t pan out so well. On the bright side, Yveltal was pretty cool.

The Season of Discovery

Season Start Season End
June 1, 2021 September 1, 2021

I’ll be honest; I’d all but forgotten about the Season of Discovery until writing this article. Going into this season, we only had another “introduction of new Legendary Pokemon” promise to look forward to, but we really didn’t have many unreleased Legendary Pokemon from existing generations at the time. Sure, this season had Go Fest 2021 on its calendar, but that event pre-dated the seasonal system by several years, so it more felt like a coincidence that we were getting it here than a part of the season. Overall, this was the weakest season that we’d gone into thus far.

….and then Go Fest hit.

Everyone was expecting Meloetta for Go Fest; it had been teased as the Mythical Pokemon of the event. But day 2 brought with it a very familiar hoop in the sky, one that was brought in without warning or any real context. And on top of that, the Ultra Unlock for Go Fest looped back and made more connection to the Season of Discovery, as out of the blue we skipped forward to Galar (RIP Alola) and got Zacian and Zamazenta in their Hero of Many Battles formes. And amid all of this, the references to Hoopa just… stopped. We were left in the dust, wondering why Hoopa had been referenced in the first place.

How Was the Season of Discovery?

In the end, the Season of Discovery started out as arguably the most boring season of the group, but it went out strong! This was the first hint at Niantic making something more cohesive and thematically relevant surrounding a season, and it also gave us a big surprise by leapfrogging the expected Alola event and landing us squarely in Galar. On top of this, we had an actual teaser as to what was to come! This point was where seasons actually started to feel like a real part of the game!

The Season of Mischief

Season Start Season End
September 1, 2021 December 1, 2021

As if the name alone didn’t give it away, the title image used for this season brought back a very familiar hoop with its open portal in the center. The answers as to Hoopa’s inclusion in Go Fest 2021 (sorry Meloetta, maybe you’ll have your time to shine again later) were upon us, and they dropped surprisingly early! As our first surprise, we were actually able to catch Hoopa shortly after the season opened, but Niantic made one fact very clear: it wasn’t over. With an overarching research line that released in parts and kept a strong theme, we all knew that this season was about Hoopa from day 1 forward. And then we learned of the release of the Forme Change mechanic for Furfrou, which very much telegraphed where it was all going: the release of Hoopa: Unbound.

How Was the Season of Mischief?

I’ve got to say; the Season of Mischief was a big turning point for seasons. Up until the end of the Season of Discovery, they felt a bit devoid of actual cohesion or purpose. We had them, but they were easy to forget minus the seasonal spawns. But that changed when Hoopa took center-stage, and it honestly made a fairly fun narrative for the first time. Sure, not everyone loved it, but this is where the narrative of the season started to actually vy for center stage, and was the point where I started getting excited about seasons again.

The Future of Seasons

As of my writing this closing, it's just under 5 hours until the date rolls over to Midnight on December 1. It's been a year since the Seasons system was introduced into Pokemon Go, and the future does look fairly bright. They've ironed out many of the problems, have worked on keeping a stronger theme throughout the season, and have even given us a number of surprises along the way. In fact, The Season of Heritage was just fully revealed today, and it seems to be following many of the previously mentioned seasonal advantages, but with new bonuses that are arguably stronger than much of what we've seen in the past.

We may not have the intrigue that started in the previous season like what Hoopa provided as the Season of Discovery faded into the Season of Mischief, but It's obvious that Niantic has put a bit of effort into the proceedings, and I for one am interested to see where it goes. So let's work towards those personal goals (and special trainer hats!), and start the rampant speculation as we try to figure out what the heck is behind that door.

Welcome to Year Two of Seasons!

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About the Author(s)

Gamepress writer with a focus on theorycrafting and gameplay optimization with a background in business management and freelance writing.  A bit of a hermit, but also an outdoors enthusiast who loves cycling and hiking. Long-time Gamepress fan who is very proud to be a part of the team.