Pokémon GO is now undergoing field tests in the United States of America, but over in Australia, one reader of Kotaku Australia has shared details of their experience with the game (anonymously, of course). This comes close to the official information blowout on what the game is like, so now we have a fair idea of how the game plays, both from the official details and from hands-on experience.
The Kotaku Australia reader’s hands-on begins with the reader finding themselves at midnight, in the middle of a conservation park, catching a Ponyta. They perform a swipe to throw a PokéBall at the Pokémon – catching Pokémon in the game no longer requires traditional battles, it can be done directly be throwing your ball at the Pokémon in question, just like in the anime. The Vine Report reports that the official details match with this.
The combat is real-time now, instead of being turn-based, as has been tradition for Pokémon games. You must plan out your moves in advance, such as basic attacks, charged attacks and dodges, but the reader describes this as a “clunky, laggy, opaque system”. The only real Pokémon battles you can have in the game are at gyms, where you must fight for or against the gym’s prestige, depending on which team your Trainer belongs to (the system is very reminiscent of Ingress).
There don’t seem to be any social features yet, which the reader finds very disappointing. Evolution also works in a unique way. Your Pokémon no longer have experience points, and evolving them now requires capturing more Pokémon of the same kind over and over again. This is described as “frustrating” by the reader. In the end however, they remain hopeful that the game will turn out well, and that Niantic will address many of their concerns regarding Pokémon GO.