Pokémon GO Fest 2018 summed up in two words: it worked! If you're not familiar with Niantic's inaugural GO Fest last year... well, summarized: it didn't work. GO Fest 2017 was plagued with app-killing bugs and rampant cell network connectivity issues across all major carriers. The end result was Niantic apologizing profusely on stage at Grant Park in Chicago. Every attendee received a Lugia automagically in their Pokedex and 10,000 Poke coins to spend in the store as a "our bad" gesture. GO Fest 2018, albeit a bit different from last year, thankfully, was a wild success. Here's our quick review.
Disclaimer: Japan Yay received media access, meaning we didn't pay for our wristband.
This year GO Fest moved to the north side of Chicago inside Lincoln Park and was expanded to two days: Saturday and Sunday, 10AM-6PM. Lincoln Park was open for all to walk through - GO Fest wristband holder or not - and that became quickly apparent as I saw a few runners and people on Divvy bikes (Chicago's bike ride-sharing program) trying to wade through thousands of Pokémon GO fans. It was hot, muggy, and rainy, but Lincoln park proved to be the venue where GO Fest should have been in the first place, which was far enough away from downtown Chicago where cell network congestion is more frequent.
Access to GO Fest was essentially the same as last year: scan or enter your code in on your wrist band and you will have access to all the Poke stops and spawning Pokemon within Lincoln Park's geo-fencing parameters that the app had set up for the event. Even though you could walk inside of GO Fest this year without a wrist band, you still needed a code to participate.
New venue aside, let's get to the actual reason why 20,000+ attended GO Fest this year: obtaining mythical Pokémon Celebi! Contrast to last year's event, where Raids were the primary focal point, to capture Celebi was more of a loner event. And that is my only complaint for GO fest this year. Last year, before the connectivity and app issues started, there was a sense of collaboration and team work with your fellow Mystic, Valor, or Instinct teammate bros and gals. That vibe was not there this year. It was more of an RPG-level grind feeling, and to be quite honest wearing sandals all day Saturday was a very very bad mistake on my end. You had to walk, spin Poke stops, and capture a crap ton of different Pokémon to complete 5 research quests and capture Celebi. But I don't want to dig into this more than it deserves. Afterall, GO Fest was indeed a walk in a park. A very long park.