Niantic expands Nearby Pokémon feature as players begin catching Ditto in Pokémon GO

Pokemon GO splash screen Gengar

Millions of Pokémon GO players are in for a surprise this week as game developer Niantic is making some big server-side changes to the game.

A limited amount of players in certain regions of the world will be able to see Nearby Pokémon, a feature that has been in experimentation in just San Francisco, California for months.

The news of its expansion comes just a day after the announcement of the in-game Thanksgiving double XP event.

Nearby Pokémon

When Niantic ripped the footsteps feature out of the game months ago,a lot of players decided to stop playing as the new system wasn’t quite as detailed as the original, despite how broken it was from the get go.

Regardless, one of the promises Niantic made to players when they made the decision to rip the feature was that they would work on a better system that was more reliable and consider releasing it in the future, and it would seem that time is finally coming into light.

The Nearby Pokémon feature isn’t quite the same as the footsteps feature players could use in the beginning, but it helps trainers track down certain Pokémon around them more easily. Niantic says the feature only works when you’re near a PokéStop and changes to the Sightings view you’ll see even when you’re not near a PokéStop are also rolling out for some players.

Because these changes aren’t rolling out for everyone just yet, you’ll want to pay particular attention to the excerpt below from a Niantic press release to see if you’ll be included in the lucky few to get to try out the Nearby Pokémon feature:

We will be expanding the ability for Trainers to test this updated version of the features and provide us with feedback. Starting today, Trainers in the following areas will now be able to use the new Nearby and Sightings functionality:

  • United States of America: All states west of the Mississippi River (except Hawaii and Alaska)
  • Canada: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and the western half of Ontario.
  • Australia: All states and territories

Niantic continues by saying that the feature is still very much in testing, so you might experience some bumpiness as it rolls out. This is exactly the reason it’s not being rolled out to everyone just yet. Niantic needs test subjects and wants to make sure it’s perfect before everyone has access to it.

Anyone who notices anything out of the ordinary is asked to send feedback to Niantic so they can forward the problems to development and hammer out bug fixes.

The release of Ditto

Players from different regions of the world have reportedly started being able able to catch Ditto, the purple shape-shifting Pokémon, beginning Tuesday night.

Ditto Pokemon GO

Ditto has long been sought after, but it appears to be finally rolling out to players now. It has yet to be seen if Ditto is rolling out to everyone at this point in time, or just the players who are getting a sneak peek of the Nearby Pokémon feature.

Players aren’t going to see wild Ditto just hanging out on their Pokémon map, rather it appears to be taking the form of simpler common Pokémon like Magikarp, Pidgey, Rattata, Spearow, etc. and reveals itself in a cut scene after the player has successfully caught the Pokémon.

There are still other Pokémon from the first generation that Niantic needs to release before generation 2 can be unleashed, such as Mew, Mewtwo, and the legendary birds. There has been no official comment just yet on when these will be released, however.

There is reportedly code in the latest version of Pokémon GO that suggest the second generation Pokémon will be unlocked in the game soon (perhaps next year?), but there are still a number of the original 151 Pokémon that need to be released first.

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If you’re not already playing Pokémon GO, you can download it for free from the App Store. Making an account to play is free and easy to do.

Are you excited to hear about these changes? Share in the comments below!