Two weeks ago, Niantic released the gym update for Pokemon GO. The update was supposed to fix and balance gyms and make gamers feel as though they were battling a gym leader in the main Pokemon games. I would like to say Niantic succeeded, but I can’t, because thanks to server problems, the gyms are completely borked. Please note that this article is based on my personal experience, so maybe (or, I hope) it does not apply to everyone playing Pokemon GO. Still, there is a huge problem.
On the surface, the gyms work as intended. Trainers can only leave six unique Pokemon at gyms (i.e., no more than one Blissey, no more than one Dragonite, etc.); the photo disc that gives players free items works well, and the new motivation system is fully functional. Catching and leveling up Pokemon also work well, but once you get into gym battles, the game self-destructs faster than a Voltorb/Electrode.
When I played, at first everything seemed to be ok; Pokemon GO displayed the defending Pokemon I was going to battle and what Pokemon I would use. However, the game constantly thought I wandered away from the gyms while I customized my team. Sure, I could simply exit out of the gym screen and reenter it to fix the problem, but then I would have to customize the lineup again. And then the game thought I wandered away again, which forced me to exit the gym screen again and start all over. Again. I usually had to repeat this process four to five times, but that’s still four to five times too many. And then there were the battles. Oh, the battles, the laggy, unresponsive battles. When the patch first landed, health bars fluctuated wildly, which made it impossible to know which Pokemon would faint first, but then the lag got worse; way worse. Usually, the defending Pokemon didn’t faint for a good twenty seconds until after its health was depleted, but for the past several days, almost all of my matches ended with the time running out after I won the match, which counted as a loss. Each time, the game took half a minute before it told me I lost (despite my obvious win). Oh, and the game stopped responding to my commands in the middle of the battle at least twice. While the timer still counted down. Sure, sometimes I got lucky and the game said I won a match that I clearly won, but usually the servers cheated me out of my hard-earned victories. And raid battles weren’t much better; they suffered from the same lag issues as normal gym battles. In fact, raid battles might be even have been worse, as the last raid battle I participated in didn’t end until two to three minutes after the timer reached zero.
Niantic, buddy, you really have to fix these server problems. Gym battles are a major draw for many people in the game, but right now battling in gyms is next to impossible. Sure, sometimes I got lucky if the planets aligned during a blue moon and the gym battles functioned as intended, but usually gyms were beyond broken. Or maybe the game has become sentient and decided to target me and only me. I don’t know. Is it wrong for me to hope that I’m not alone in this, because otherwise I come off as shallow complaining about a problem nobody else has.