The newest installments in the Pokemon series of games, Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon, are due for release in November 2016. As with any new release in the series, expectations are high, with many fans eagerly anticipating the changes and new features these games will introduce. However, though the series has endured for more than twenty years, there are still definitely things which the games can still improve upon. Here are just a few ways GameFreak could change things up in future titles to come.
1. Shake up the story
From the very first games released back in 1996, the story of the Pokemon games has been constant: you, the player, starts off in a small town, and after picking a Starter Pokemon, embark on a journey to collect eight badges in order to challenge the Pokemon League and become the Champion, while defeating an evil organisation along the way. This formula works, given the fact that it has remained unchanged throughout the course of the series, but it's definitely time for something new.
While removing the badge system may be a little drastic, it's the evil team subplot which could use a little work. Many evil teams across the series are insistently one-note, and the story never really succeeds into delving deep into their motivations or their back stories. Pokemon Black and White came the closest with the enigmatic character N, and a story with similar depth and acuity of plot may just be what the series needs. Alternatively, the developers could get rid of the evil team motif altogether and replace it with another plot line to accompany the main quest instead.
2. Increase the difficulty
The series has always been solely marketed towards children of a young age, despite its large adult following. Because of this, it is obviously in the developer's best interests to keep the general difficulty levels of the games fairly low. However, there have been complaints in recent years that the games have become too easy, and with good reason. The games are simply not hard enough, with self-imposed challenges that add an extra degree of difficulty called "Nuzlockes" having been commonplace in the community for years. By adding options in the start of the game to impose these extra restrictions, or simply an option to increase the general difficulty level, would be an easy way to appease those in the community looking for a challenge, while also retaining the option of standard gameplay for newer players.
3. Provide proper exploration and non-linearity
The Pokemon games, almost to a fault, have always been very linear. While there are opportunities to meander off the main pathways and explore, there are hardly any instances where true non-linearity comes into play; where the player is able to pick and choose what path to take, which direction to travel in. The feeling of exploring an entirely new region with brand-new towns, cities, people and Pokemon is dampened somewhat by the fact that you're restricted to keeping to the pathways set by the game. Ditching linear gameplay will not only help grant the games a fresh feeling of freedom and exploration but also add an extra layer of depth to a series which can often feel quite restrictive.
4. Give players a reason to keep on playing
The Pokemon series has always been slightly inconsistent with its post-game rewards. Some, like Diamond and Pearl and Black and White, simply offer a few brand-new areas to explore and leave it at that. Many also offer a Battle facility of some sort, but these are often quite perfunctory except to those few who genuinely enjoy the challenge. By far the best example of post-game content in the series comes from Gold and Silver, which offered the exploration of an entirelynew region, essentially doubling the content that was previously available. While this is an extreme example, more recent offerings, such as the Looker sidequest in X and Y, offer something unique in what arguably might be a more interesting story than the main game itself. The game shouldn't necessarily end once the credits have finished rolling; in the ever-expanding world of Pokemon, there should always be room for fresh, innovative and unique ideas which break the mold and help advance the series into new heights. Whether it be new challenges, additional sidequests which complement the main storyline, or even entire new regions to explore, the ending should never be the be all and end all.
There are a number of directions the developers can take this hugely popular series, but it's impossible to satisfy each and every one of the countless fans across the globe. At this point, the only thing left to do is watch and wait in the hope that the games continue to deliver and the series carries on going from strength to strength as it has proved to do so many times in the past.