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Hoopa Unbound Is The Culmination Of Pokemon Go’s Best Event Yet

Pokemon Go has events all the time. Some are good, some are terrible. Safari Zone celebrations (whether remote or in-person) usually fall into the former, and Ed Sheeran falls comfortably into the latter (the whole event is a link to a YouTube video ffs). Good or bad, however, there’s hardly ever a break in between them – they’re a constant attempt to entice you back into the game through FOMO.

All live-service games do it – some more predatorily than others. Halo Infinite’s first multiplayer event missed the mark in this sense, but for the most part Pokemon Go just about toes the line well enough that players don’t get too mad. Yes, exclusive Pokemon are locked behind pay-to-enter raids, but things are changing for the better when it comes to mythical monsters.

I’ve already talked about how underwhelming shiny Mew was and why I’m waiting to catch it just so I can feel something again, but the opposite is true of Hoopa. Where the shiny Mew event just “allowed” players to pay real money for a four-stage Special Research that rewarded one of the hardest-to-track-down creatures in the main series, Hoopa is completely free. It’s also taken us the best part of three months to complete.

One of the problems with Pokemon Go events is that they’re all so disconnected. Five days celebrating the release of Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl followed by eight days celebrating Ed Sheeran. A week of Furfrou spawns just because. None of it makes sense, and it doesn’t have to, but the Season of Mischief Special Research is an arc that ties them all together. At every new event, you’re greeted by the frustratingly positive Professor Willow who lets you know how Fashion Week ties into his research into Hoopa’s powers. The links are sometimes tenuous, sure, and he didn’t have anything to say about old Ed, but they’re links all the same.

This entire season, from September to December, has felt like it has been building up to something big. Something important. The rewards haven’t been bad either, granting us Hoopa and plenty of candy early doors and waiting until the grand finale to unleash its Unbound form. But this event hits different, and that can be attributed to the tasks as much as the rewards.

Tasks for the Misunderstood Mischief Season Research have been understandably related to the events occurring that week in-game. This seems like a no-brainer, but it definitely forced me to interact more with some of the more obscure events that I didn’t care as much about. I don’t think I would have grinded Fashion Week, for example, as hard as I did if I wasn’t worried about having a harder time completing the Season Research if I’d skipped it.

For people who don’t manage to complete the Season Research by December, there’s a paid ticket available which seems like a good compromise. If you didn’t complete your Season Research steps during the Psychic Spectacular, for instance, you’d have had a hard time catching 20 Psychic-types in the weeks after it and therefore would be practically unable to change Hoopa’s form when the Mischief Unbound event rolls around. A paid ticket is a reasonable option for casual players or Hoopa lovers nipping into Pokemon Go for the one event.

But for the rest of us, the Misunderstood Mischief research and Season of Mischief as a whole are a positive sign of things to come for Pokemon Go. I may not have maxed out every event, participated in every raid hour, or caught every shiny, but I’ve logged in a lot more than I would have otherwise thanks to the overarching story spanning the past three months. It’s Pokemon Go’s own free-to-play battle pass, and I can’t wait for the big finale.

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