One of the biggest features and greatest imbalances in Pokemon GO is how player density greatly affects player experience. A play style that fits one area may not be optimal in other parts of the world. While most guides at GamePress are applicable in a wide variety of places, some are tailored more towards certain environments. For example, a guide which discusses the performance of gym defenders after several hours of motivation decay should not be used to pick defenders in a high turnover area where gyms change hands multiple times each hour. This three part series describes typical play styles in high, medium and low turnover areas and what you can do to prepare if you happen to be travelling to an area that is very different than the one you are familiar with. While I try to describe three very different types of places, the actual boundaries of these areas are fuzzy both conceptually and geographically.
What is Low Density?
When people think of low density areas, they often imagine a rural area, but large parks, loosely populated islands and other types of places can also be classified as low density. In some areas, trainers will see maps like the one below and need to travel miles or kilometers to get to the nearest gym. What players can do in these areas is highly dependent on where the gyms are, how easily they can get there and the habits of other local players. Addition or removal of gyms in low density areas can greatly affect the way that trainers play.
Raiding in Low-Density Areas
Depending on how many active players there are in an area, Tier 5 raids may or many not be doable. Active players are likely to use chat apps such as Facebook and WhatsApp to coordinate these raids and personally invite new players they see into the group. In well-coordinated areas, all players should be able to have a chance at the legendary each cycle. However, in some cases, players may travel to neighboring towns or cities to have a better chance getting a raid group together for high tier raids. Because there may not always be a legendary raid available and a large enough group may not form, players often use their free passes to solo lower tier raids.
There is a slight silver lining to the raid situation in low density areas. If there happens to be an EX eligible gym in the area, all players who raid there are likely to get an EX Raid Pass, if there are enough players for EX raids to be generated. While many players in high density areas have not even seen an EX Raid Pass despite raiding every day, players in some low density areas have many Mewtwo and may even be hoping to catch something else from raids.
Gyms in Low-Density Areas
A possible problem in low-density areas is getting Pokemon kicked out of gyms to collect 50 coins. Some groups have a schedule of when to take each other’s gyms to make sure people get their coins. Other times, people may request others to kick them out. Because players in low-density areas are always interacting with the same few gyms and get many badge points from time defended, active players are likely to have gold badges on all gyms in the area. Gym defense is unnecessary, so if players are feeding berries, it's usually to clear out their bag to collect other items. As a slight gimmick, some players in low-density areas like to brag about how long their gyms have remained untouched.
Advice for Players
If gyms are far from places that you frequent, playing in a low-density area can become expensive regarding time and transportation cost. Coordinating Tier 5 raids can sometimes feel impossible, and you may have to come to terms with not acquiring the current legendary. Otherwise, you may want to make a trip out to a denser area. A day trip with a few other local raiders can turn into a nice Pokemon GO outing where everyone can hopefully leave with a legendary. In the off chance that your area has an EX eligible gym, try to see it as a blessing and not get frustrated when it blocks other raids from appearing. Gym coins and leveling up gym badges should be no problem with a bit of coordination so try to see this as positive as well. Just don’t be embarrassed to ask someone to take down your gym if you need the coins.
Visitors to low-density areas may want to take as many gyms as possible during their stay. If they stay till after you return home, you may serendipitously get your 50 gym coins without any effort that day. You can also brag to players in your local group about how long you’ve held a gym. It may be hard to get connected to a raiding group beforehand if you don’t personally know any players in the area, but getting connected can be a great way to make new friends. Players in low-density areas can easily develop friendships because there will be a handful to a couple of dozen active players rather than the hundreds in other areas. If you happen to be staying long enough and there is an EX eligible gym, make sure to grab a Mewtwo before leaving!