It's been six months since The Pokémon Company first announced the existence of the Niantic Inc. developed Pokemon GO, and Pokéfans the world over have been waiting with baited breath for news ever since. News which hasn't been particularly forthcoming thus far, especially in the wake of Niantic CEO John Hanke's cancelled Game Developers Conference (GDC) speech — Catch 'Em All: Pokémon GO and Real World Gaming.
The most recent news we got was that field testing for the game was due to begin in Japan later this month, and would be rolled out to other countries in the weeks following the launch in Japan. And the fact that we're at open beta testing now is pretty exciting as it means we're likely not too far off from the launch date.
But fret not, for it appears that we may just have gotten our first look at Pokémon GO gameplay after all. This comes reportedly not from the GDC but from a talk given in Texas at the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference by Hanke on Saturday 19, March, entitled The Future of AR Is Already in Your Pocket.
Shortly after the talk a video appeared online which claims to offer a first look at the Pokémon GO gameplay. It's pretty convincing and it does sound like Hanke in the video but there's been no official confirmation regarding the legitimacy of the footage thus far, so take it with a pinch of salt when you check it out below.
The augmented reality component of the game can be seen in the demonstration video, with the Ivysaur being "projected" via the camera app into real world surroundings, interacted with through the medium of the phone touchscreen.
Let's talk about the fact that the player used a Master Ball to catch Ivysaur? Talk about overkill... But it does show us that we'll be able to switch between different Pokéballs as in the games; likely this function will hinge on micro-transactions —gotta make money somehow.
The Map function shows markers off in the distance, likely those revealing the locations of other Pokémon as well as possibly gyms. What about Pokémon Centers? And Pokémarts? It's hard to tell from the video whether or not these dynamics will be present in Pokémon GO, but it's a safe guess.
Lastly it seems that rather than just leveling up your Pokémon the player character will also work on a level system, with the player in the above example being "Lv. 9." This makes sense in relation to Niantic's other big augmented reality game Ingress, which uses an XP based level up system for players.
We're still waiting on an official line regarding a more specific release date though as currently The Pokémon Company have said the game will release sometime in 2016. But this is the most news we've gotten in a long while regarding the game, hopefully heralding a soon to be announced release date.