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What a difference a year makes. It looks like Niantic learned a lot from last year's disastrous Pokemon Go Fest, with the 2018 rendition proving to be a huge step in the right direction. According to all of the online chatter, this year's massive crowd of participants came out quite pleased with the event or, at the very least, there doesn't seem to be any threatened lawsuits this time around.
To be clear, we're not being too hard on Niantic when it comes to describing the 2017 Pokemon Go Fest. Hosted out of Chicago, fans came from all over the world to enjoy special events, play Pokemon Go and take advantage of special promotions. What they got instead was a much larger crowd than expected, which resulted in huge lines, unstable servers and so much negativity that folks decided to take legal action against Niantic for the event.
But, just like the game itself, Pokemon Go Fest has evolved in the past year and, according to reports, the 2018 gathering of 21,000 fans turned out much better. Keep in mind that that number is only the on-site report, as an estimated 180,000 players apparently participated in the surrounding Chicago area.
Over on Eurogamer, Tom Phillips referred to this year's Pokemon Go Fest as revisiting "an old wound to repair things completely." Phillips was especially impressed with Niantic's use of the park, making it feel more like an adventure for players to go on.
Where last year's Go Fest flirted with the idea of having certain areas of Grant Park feature different Pokémon, Go Fest 2018 expanded this into a carefully choreographed adventure in the larger Lincoln Park which made excellent use of the game's recently added quests feature.
The buzz around social media is similarly upbeat, with last year's well-deserved cries of outrage and frustration replaced with songs of praise.
Over on Polygon, Allegra Frank praised Niantic for getting their act together with this second Pokemon Go Fest, explaining that the decision to expand the event to a much bigger area was just as welcome a departure from the 2017 event as the fact that you could just about enjoy all of the activities featured at the event while touring the rest of the city.
This is the first time I've felt really inspired to have Pokemon Go open the entire time I'm walking through a city, thanks to all of those special finds Niantic's planted in the city.