‘Absolutely horrific’: Players beg Niantic to reverse Pokémon Go’s new avatar visuals

Niantic is testing a few visual changes for Pokémon Go, and players in the test group are already begging the developer to cancel the update and never look back on the new Trainer avatars. 

On March 18, Niantic confirmed Pokémon Go players in select regions would see visual tests for the Style Shop and a few gameplay areas like the map and encounter screens. It looks like some of those tests went live on March 21, with impacted users flocking to social media to share the results of what appears to be a disappointing character creation overhaul.

A direct comparison of original and new testing Pokemon Go avatars.
In one image, you can see everything wrong with the changes. Image via Aettyr on Reddit

The changes are being tested as a way to give players more customization options to make their Trainer look the way they want, with new hair, face, eyes, and even body options. In theory, it should be widely celebrated, since avatar customization has always been a relatively weak point for Pokémon Go outside of costumes and accessories. But instead of the expressionless, yet distinct original models with Pokémon charm baked into their design, these updated characters feel like they might be going for a more realistic look—which makes them look much more disturbing at first glance. 

It feels like Niantic is testing new models that have potentially been in the works for years, including a Fashion Week 2022 incident that saw all three Team Leaders get a visual update that was the stuff of nightmares.

Community sentiment about the new visual change is mixed, with a good chunk of complaints focusing on the odd faces and body proportions between gender options being scaled down. “I was excited for more options for everyone, but they look terrible. My character has no waist anymore so half of the outfits look ridiculous, and the new hair clips through pretty much all of the hats,” Reddit user iodhan said

The actual customization, outside of the soulless faces and odd proportions, is generally being praised despite only being added nearly eight years into the game’s lifespan. You should also take complaints about broken accessories lightly, as this is just a test and not a full release, especially since some players are reporting you can now wear certain clothing items regardless of gender, which was not an option previously. 

If Niantic can refine the looks a bit more and get the avatar faces to look less like AI-generated, lifeless dolls, the calls for cancelling the update should fade out, as players should be happy to have more customization options. But some players are criticizing the developer for focusing on cosmetic overhauls while other issues are negatively impacting gameplay during new event drops. Reddit user iamnota_SHADOW said: “All I wanted was haircuts and we get this, lmao.”


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