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Is Pokemon Go’s Latest Addition Finally Helping Rural Players?

Rural players have it harder than most in Pokemon Go. While I’ve regularly lamented that the game is practically impossible to play in the locations depicted on Niantic’s marketing material (have you tried trying to catch ‘em all on top of a mountain?), rural players have that experience all the time. I’m lucky enough to live in a suburban area, which is still nothing compared to when I lived in a city centre, but at least I can see a couple of PokeStops from my house.

Recent nerfs to Incense, putting its effectiveness back to pre-pandemic levels, were the most egregious affront to rural play, and Pokemon locked behind raids also makes it more difficult for smaller communities to catch ‘em all. However, Niantic has started rolling out a new type of Incense – called Daily Adventure Incense – which seems like a nice addition at first, but gets better and better the more you look into it.

The primary function of Daily Adventure Incense is to spawn Pokemon around the player, much like regular Incense. However, it only lasts for 15 minutes, and it only works at all if you’re walking. This seems like a bit of a scam until you realise that it’s free, and you can get a new one every single day. This is one of the first times – arguably after Egg-based events like Adventure Week which have an upfront cost to buy Incubators – that Niantic has actually incentivised its brand of exploration without negatively impacting other methods of play, and that in itself is commendable. But there’s more good news.

The spawns themselves from Daily Adventure Incense seem great. Rare Pokemon and evolved Pokemon are abundant, and it’s possible to grab shinies too. Daily Adventure Incense can also spawn Pokemon like Rockruff, Vullaby, and Espurr, which were previously locked behind eggs and Raids. Finally, Daily Adventure Incense is occasionally spawning the Galarian Legendary birds, their first appearance in the game. There’s so much right with this that it deserves its own paragraph.

The Galarian birds are great Pokemon with interesting designs. I love them, and introducing them with some other Galarian forms is a great idea. But I assumed they’d come to Raids, and I reckon a lot of other people did too. Instead, they weren’t announced, and were shadow dropped into the Daily Adventure Incense pool. They’re fairly rare and have a low catch rate, which is a nice touch that pays homage to how you encounter them in the main games. Like the Lake Trio roaming the world (incredibly infrequently) and the Legendary dogs in the wild during Pokemon Go Tour: Johto, this is a clever incentive that really understands the appeal of Pokemon. You’re not meant to catch the Galarian birds every time you see them, they’re meant to be hard to find and harder to master. It’s the opposite to Raids, and an addition that puts the Pokemon in Pokemon Go, something the AR game hasn’t done for a long time.

There’s one final bonus to using your Daily Adventure Incense, and this one helps out rural players more than all the others combined. If you play in a non-urban community, encountering Pokemon is hard enough, but catching them is harder still. Without an abundance of PokeStops, you’re perpetually low on items such as Poke Balls, which are obviously crucial for catching the monsters you stumble across. That changes with Daily Adventure Incense, however, as if you have fewer than 30 Poke Balls, Great Balls, and Ultra Balls (cumulatively), you’ll receive 30 Poke Balls when you activate it. For free. Those things cost good Poke Coins in the shop.

I haven’t encountered a Galarian bird yet, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a Zapdos to cross my path sometime soon. However, even without encountering a Legendary, I can see that this might be the most important addition to Pokemon Go that Niantic has added since its pandemic concessions. It gets you walking but doesn’t negatively affect those who don’t or can’t, it gives rural players a major helping hand, and there’s even a chance of a free Legendary encounter for the first time since 2019. It’s free, it’s good, and it feels like Pokemon.

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