‘Pokemon GO’ December Update Rumors: More Snorlax Sightings, Legendary Birds, Shorter Buddy Walks, 100 New Pokemon?

The Pokemon GO December update is coming soon – could this be the update that would bring players back to the mobile mega-hit, whose user base has petered out since its summer peak? That may all depend on whether the 100 new Pokemon that make up Gen 2 will be making their debut or not, but developer Niantic does seem to have more than a few interesting things in store for December, if the rumors turn out to be true.

Last month’s Thanksgiving update did add a few new wrinkles to Pokemon GO, mainly the arrival of Ditto, a Pokemon who could transform into any given opponent at the moment in gym battles. But aside from that, as well as doubled Stardust and XP bonuses, the November event wasn’t as exciting for many as the Halloween event, which made several otherwise uncommon Pokemon spawn far more frequently, and also divided the required walking distance for Buddies by four. It was mainly about the XP and Stardust bonuses, as Eurogamer explained, but the Pokemon GO December update may have more than just that.

A report from SlashGear detailed on Tuesday what gamers can expect from this month’s Pokemon GO update, and the publication noted that the Christmas event may be closer to the Thanksgiving event in terms of perks. For one, the holiday weeks should be a good time for players to hunt for Snorlax, who is one of the rarest Pokemon in the PokeDex, and a mainstay of gyms over the world due to its overall power and efficacy in gym battles. Staryu and Starmie, Clefairy and Clefable, and Seel and Dewgong should also be common spawns in the last two weeks of December, SlashGear added.

None of the above Pokemon are as common as those ubiquitous Pidgeys and Rattatas, so it should be good to see them spawn in far greater number as a result of the Pokemon GO December update. But when can players expect the 100 new Pokemon that make up the so-called Generation 2 lineup? SlashGear wrote that it’s “still undecided” as to whether Niantic would release the new batch before 2016 is over, so there is at least some hope in that front. Some reports, including this game guide from PC Advisor, cite a leaked Starbucks memo mentioning December 7 as the rollout date for Gen 2, though that date is still unconfirmed.

Forbes, for one, believes December as a feasible rollout window for the Gen 2 Pokemon, albeit for monetization purposes; with winter making it hard for people to leave their homes, a Gen 2 release could lead to spikes in in-game item sales, such as Incense, Lures, and PokeBalls.

Even way back in July and in August, mobile gaming sites, including LevelWinner and VG247, were citing Pokemon GO code and teasing the eventual arrival of new berries and Incense types in future updates, as well as ways to catch the “Legendary Birds” Articuno, Moltres, and Zapdos. The SlashGear report didn’t mention anything about new berries and Incense, and while it doesn’t appear as if you’ll be able to catch the Legendary Birds in the wild, the publication believes that they may be gifted to players, depending on which team they belong to. It might not be the fabled 100 new Pokemon of Gen 2, but having one of the Legendary Birds (Articuno = Mystic, Moltres = Valor, Zapdos = Instinct) should make for a nice Christmas gift to any Pokemon GO player.

The December update, as the Inquisitr reported earlier this week, may include a trading card system where players can trade Pokemon with each other, as well as PvP battles. Both are long-awaited features that a lot of gamers have been clamoring for, though like the rest of the above features, are far from confirmed at this point in the game.

What could be more likely, however, is the shortening of walking distances for Buddy Pokemon. SlashGear pointed out that winter could make it harder for people to walk long distances, which means Niantic may do what they did in the Halloween update, and reduce the distance requirements during the holiday event. Assuming this is an identical feature to what we saw in the Halloween event, this means you’ll only need to walk 0.25 miles instead of one mile if you want to earn one candy with Pikachu as your buddy, or 0.75 miles instead of three for Charmander, to cite a couple of examples.

Indeed, the Pokemon GO December update appears to be a big one, with or without the 100 new Pokemon. And it shouldn’t be much longer before Niantic rolls the next patch out, though we’ve yet to hear of any confirmed release date for the update.

[Featured Image by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images]