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Pokémon Go Fest 2022 leaves Professor Willow missing in action

This year Go Fest, Pokémon Go’s annual summer weekend extravangaza, has shaken up the game with the introduction of a new Mythical creature, the arrival of the franchise’s extra-dimensional Ultra Beasts, and the apparent (albeit likely temporary) loss of everyone’s favorite hunky professor, Willow.

The disappearance of Willow, a surprise twist for the game’s second day, means the game has been left without its usual friendly face guiding players through the game’s story. A mysterious stranger named Rhi, who looks to be a new ally, has instead taken Willow’s place while players investigate the emergence of the first Ultra Beasts.

These creatures are likely the cause of Willow’s absence, and will hopefully be a continued focus over the game’s new Season of Go. For now at least, Willow’s absence appears to be a story development that will stick for some time, with standard in-game text changed throughout the app to remove references to the professor. (For those overly concerned, a Go Fest finale event for existing ticket holders, coming in August, seems likely to revolve around his revival.)

Shaymin shuffles into Pokémon Go. Adorable.

As with previous years, Go Fest’s first day was filled with a cute new Mythical Pokémon to catch. This year it was Shaymin, a cheerful sort of hedgehog which blooms flowers wherever it goes. I particularly enjoyed its entrance – ambling through a beautiful flower-filled landscape – to dutifully allow itself to be caught.

Along the way was the usual array of quest steps, raid battles and rare Pokémon to catch. New this year was the ability to tailor your Go Fest story quest to your own taste, with different options for those who like to walk and explore, those who want to catch every creature in sight, and those who focus on battling. In a smart move, each of these paths also offered three difficulty levels so you could wrap things up quickly if you preferred, with equal rewards so players of all abilities got the same items for their ticket price.

Professor Willow, RIP.

With tickets roughly around £ 14 (annoyingly, prices vary slightly across different phone app stores), Go Fest 2022 did not feature the same deep discount of last year (when Google sponsorship saw it lowered to an eye-catching £ 5). This left several in my community deciding to give it a miss, even with that third day in August to bulk out the offerings, and a busy second day of further rare species and raids.

For your money, players also got at least 18 in-person raid passes and three remote passes over the two days to use on the first Ultra Beast, Nihilego, the usually ultra-rare Axew, which was now available in its Shiny version, and other Legendary creatures. Other Pokémon available included Tropius and Torkoal, usually regional-exclusives for Afraica and South-East Asia, and the event-exclusve Unown.

All players got an introduction to Rhi on Sunday, while ticket holders got a second, longer questline with further detail.

As ever, a big draw for many players was the event’s boosted Shiny rate. And, as ever, there has been plenty said online on the numbers of Shinies some players expected to get, versus what they actually got. It’s a thorny topic, and one not helped by Pokémon Go’s frustrating opaqueness around Shiny chances, as well as the vague language used to describe Shinies as something seen “if you’re lucky!”.

Anecdotally, I did not see any noticeable reduction in Shiny rates from any other ticketed event of this type. However, one discussion on top Pokémon Go fan reddit TheSilphRoad worth flagging compares the event’s spawn pool to that of Go Fest 2021, with fan analysis suggesting that while Shiny rates may have been similar, fewer Shiny-possible species were featured this year.

Pokémon Go’s next set of events are its ever-popular Adventure Week, which focuses on Pokémon fossil, plus celebrations of its impending Trading Card game expansion and upcoming sixth anniversary. It’ll be interesting to see how the storyline with Rhi develops over the next few months – and whether August’s bonus third Go Fest day offers further value for ticket holders.

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