I’ve been playing Pokémon GO a lot more since the release of Gen 2, and while I’m about to throw in the towel because my entire city is drowning in Swinubs to the point of exhaustion, I’ve gotten to thinking about some of the core mechanics of the game once again.
My proposal? I think Pokémon GO needs some fundamental, radical changes. I could go off about the gym/battle system, and how that needs a total rework, but I’ll save that topic for another day. Rather, I want to focus on one particular issue today, one specific form of “currency,” Stardust.
Stardust has been a core part of the game since launch. You get it from catching Pokémon and hatching eggs, and it’s used to upgrade your Pokémon to higher CP levels. While at the lowest levels, an upgrade might cost 200-400 Stardust, what you get from catching a couple wild Pokémon, as you go, it starts to settle more into the 2,000-4,000 range, per upgrade, depending on your own level. Push past that into the highest potential CP levels in the game, and you’ll be spending anywhere from 6,000 to 10,000 per upgrade.
The problem with Stardust is that unlike candy, which is Pokémon-specific, there’s one giant shared pool of it. As a result, even for players that are stockpiling a lot of Stardust, there’s little reason to “invest” it in anything not deemed useful or powerful enough. The fact is, if you tried to upgrade all your final-stage Pokémon with Stardust, you would run out of even a large stash quickly, so instead players save it for a very select few Pokémon they want to focus on upgrading.
This system, quite frankly, sucks.
Players should not be discouraged from upgrading a wider array of Pokémon because of Stardust limitations. Upgrading one Pokémon means almost certainly that you will have less resources to upgrade another, more “important” one. This creates a lot of unfortunate situations.
I will never sink Stardust into say, upgrading an Electabuzz because he’s not that great and it would be a total waste of Stardust to try max him out. So instead, My 1280 CP Electabuzz just sits there doing nothing despite the fact that I have 90 of his candies that could be used to upgrade him. But the Stardust cost? That would be a waste.
Similarly, why ever bother upgrading anything “normal” like a Pigeot or Beedrill when it costs loads of Stardust at higher levels, plus that candy can just be used for endless evolutions of Pigeottos and Kakunas which give XP? So instead of “training up” a somewhat powerful third tier evolution, you instead have players with 50 Pigeottos because their Pidgeys are just an evolution farm and Stardust should never be dumped into something as “bad” as a Pidgeot.
All of this is contrary to many of the core principles of the handheld game. Yes, everyone has their favorites when it comes to a core group that they normally use in battle. But part of the fun of Pokémon was also training up many Pokémon, even “not great” ones to be as powerful and potentially useful as possible.
In Pokémon GO, using a shared pool of Stardust is a limiting factor in doing that. Either it’s a literal limit, as in if you try to spread it around your team, you will run out of it quickly and be doing something “inefficient,” or it’s mentally limiting, and you get people with hundreds of thousands of Stardust that don’t want to spend it because they’re waiting for like, Mewtwo to come out or something.
My advice? Stardust should be eliminated entirely.
Part of the reason Stardust exists is so higher tier players can’t just dominate everyone else with easy upgrades. But if instead only candy was used for upgrades, and the higher the CP, the more candy it takes (which is already in place to some extent), that would still produce that effect. Getting more candy for a specific Pokémon to upgrade it is already GO’s version of “training,” either through duplicate catches, egg hatching or buddy walking, and Stardust is this external, unnecessary complication that discourages many upgrades altogether.
Similarly, to prevent the auto-decision of people spamming candy for evolutions they’re just going to trash anyway, there should be some hefty XP bonuses for upgrading your Pokémon with candy to offset that. Like say, if you’re level 30 and you invest enough candy to max out your Pidgeot at that level, you get a 5,000 XP bonus, for instance. This would require some balancing no doubt, but this current system of “evolution milling” to generate XP with surplus candy instead of investing in a specific Pokémon really runs contrary to the entire point of Pokémon.
There are many aspects of Pokémon GO that need work, but the Stardust issue has rubbed me the wrong way for a long time. Leaving dozens of Pokémon behind because some universal currency is best used only for ultra-high level Dragonites and their ilk is poor execution of a concept that worked much better in the handhelds. There’s a way to go about this where investing in non-godlike Pokémon is still fun and rewarding, but right now GO is encouraging players to do anything but that, thanks to Stardust restrictions in particular.
Why ‘Pokémon GO’ Should Remove Stardust From The Game Entirely