Over the long Easter weekend, Pokémon Go has undergone a changes both large and small. 3D art icons in menus got switched out for sprite art, Latias and Latios entered legendary raid rotation and, perhaps most importantly, a quest system was added to the game with the promise of the legendary Pokémon Mew at the end of the road.
The quest system isn't perfect, but it does add a much-needed sense of adventure, exploration, and reward structure to the game. It offers rewards in both the short and long term, offers challenges for players of all levels, and encourages players to interact with the game in ways they may not have done for some time.
There are two new types of Pokémon Go quest: one more casual, and the other a little more involved which, unsurprisingly, trainers are currently desperate to complete.
The more casual of Pokémon Go's new quest types are field quests, which can be picked up by spinning Pokéstops. Each Pokéstop can generate one quest per day, with a maximum of three field quests able to be kept active by players at a time. At any time you can throw out a field quest you don't like, or complete a field quest to make room to collect a new one. These quests challenge players to do activities they might not naturally do in standard play, ranging from trying to throw three successful 'nice' rank curve balls in a row, to spinning three Pokéstops you've never spun before.
The latter example there, spinning three Pokéstops you've never spun before, was one of the first field quests I was assigned, and it really forced me to think about where I explore when I play the game. I ended up walking a little further afield than I normally do, and finding a really nice set of gardens only a few minutes off the beaten path. I'd just never thought to explore there before, and had a really pleasant time as a result.
These quests are generally small, easily completed if you make an effort, and offer rewards ranging from stardust up to encounters with Pokémon. If you complete field quests on seven different (not necessarily consecutive) days, the game will dole out larger rewards — a Japanese website for the game implies seven days of quests completed may trigger a battle with a Legendary Pokémon, providing a route for people who cannot take part in raids to fill those spots in their Pokedex. Anything that gives non-raid players a shot at grabbing Legendary Pokémon is a positive improvement to Pokémon Go.
The other type of quests available currently are special quests, which come complete with cutscenes and plot tying them together. The big draw to special quests has been the confirmation that, after completing eight stages, players will unlock the change to capture the legendary Pokémon Mew. Mew will be different to other legendaries in that you won't have to fight it, and if you hit it with a ball you're guaranteed to catch it; you just have to do a bunch of tasks to get to that point.
Some parts of a special quest are simple: things like walking with your buddy Pokémon, or hatching eggs, which can be done by going for a nice walk and letting the goals be met over time. Some of the days involve tougher challenges, like evolving a Magikarp or catching a Ditto. While it's a bit of a bummer that previously evolved Magikarps or captured Dittos do not count towards those quest goals, it has really reinvigorated my local community to get back to hunting, catching, and exploring.
The special quest line of challenges is varied enough in scope and challenge that it's going to be, for most players, a good reason to put in some time and effort playing the game. There's no time limit before you miss your chance to grab Mew, but there is a fun rivalry created while players rush to be the first of their friends to find one. The random nature of having to catch a Ditto along the way means it's impossible to guarantee you'll get Mew any time soon, but most players should be able to tick off the various requirements sooner or later.
The nicest thing about this new quest mode is that players are really coming back together, using Facebook group chats to alert each other to spawn nests for the ghost types needed, helping each other locate Magikarp and Ditto spawn locations, and generally enjoying the shared journey. It has been a while since I've seen the Pokémon Go community rally so much around a feature other than raids, and it's nice going for big long walks with other trainers all looking to complete the same smaller challenges.
The combination of these two new quest types has really helped add to the day to day appeal of Pokémon Go, giving players new tasks to complete on a daily basis, and giving more seasoned players long-term tasks with a cool reward waiting at the end. It really refreshes an experience which hasn't changed all that much over time, and brings a sense of adventure back to Pokémon Go.