It’s been six years since that initial summer of Pokémon Go, where we all wandered around hunting Vaporeon and the world seemed a sunnier place.
To celebrate this latest anniversary, Pokémon Go maker Niantic has released another of its annual celebratory artworks – which regularly tease what the next 12 months may bring.
Pokémon fans have been poring over the image, though the most noticable additions here are two brand-new characters – potentially the game’s next two NPCs.
Pokémon Go does not introduce new characters very often, and the arrival of the mysterious Rhi, who is linked to the recently-released Ultra Beasts, marked the first such addition in several years.
Today’s artwork showcases Rhi and a further two new characters, one who looks like the main Pokémon game series’ Hiker NPC, plus a lady wearing a Vivillon headband.
Pokémon Go fans peering into the game’s code have seen plans for a new Route Marker feature, which has been planned in some form for years. Perhaps the hiker NPC ties into that?
Fans have also noted how the artwork does not – for the first time ever – tease the next generation of Starter Pokémon due to arrive in Go (which would be Gen 8’s Grookey, Scorbunny and Sobble). Instead, it quietly features the Starter Pokémon featured in this year’s Pokémon Legends: Arceus game, likely hinting at further Hisuian creatures to come.
Other unreleased Pokémon spotted in the image include Scatterbug, Grubbin, Turtonator, Mimikyu and Cosmog.
The artwork is not always a guarantee of future content, however. Pokémon Go’s fourth anniversary artwork featured Mega Lucario, while last year’s featured Mega Mewtwo. Neither Mega Pokémon are available yet in Go, which revamped its Mega Evolution system earlier this year.
As for the game itself, Pokémon Go’s sixth anniversary event is now live, following this weekend’s return of Pokémon Go Fest in Berlin – the game’s first in-person Go Fest in three years.