Every time I feel like I may be losing interest in Pokemon GO (Free), Niantic announce a new event or additional features that suck me right back into 2016’s augmented reality hit. While we reported that changes were afoot when the developers announced a temporary respite from the gyms last week, Niantic have today announced a comprehensive list of dramatic improvements to Pokemon GO that are arguably the most profound overhaul of the game’s mechanics since it first launched last July. As detailed on the official website, Pokemon GO will soon be receiving reformed gyms that shake up the stagnant Dragonite-filled meta, Gym Badges to collect around the world, brand new Raid Battles for even more co-operative action, and a host of new items such as Technical Machines finally making their mobile Pokemon debut.
It’s hard to know where to start on such an all-encompassing overhaul of Pokemon GO‘s mechanics, however rebalancing the gyms was a feature that many have requested from the game’s inception. The Prestige system has finally been canned, and in its place lie six slots that must be filled with unique Pokemon (in other words, only one Dragonite/Blissey/Metapod per gym). These six Pokemon have to be fought in order, which should lead to more tactical importance in the creatures within each gym, as well as serving as nice throwback to the main-line series. Pokemon will also lose ‘motivation’ if they remain in a gym for too long, and their CP will temporarily decrease as this meter goes down. If a Pokemon’s motivation hits zero, they will leave the gym upon being defeated next, meaning camping your most powerful creatures in certain spots is no longer an option. However, motivation can be restored by going to the gym in person and offering your fighter berries, although motivation will also reduce quicker for more powerful monsters. A 3000CP Gyarados needs energy to pull off that devastating Hydro Pump, after all. Gyms also act in the same way as PokeStops, and will provide items when their photo disc is spun.
The Raid Battle feature is one that Niantic have hinted at repeatedly over the past few months, and as the initial reveal trailer suggested, in this mode you’ll have to team up with other trainers and take down powerful bosses. These will take over gyms with rare Pokemon that have ridiculously high CP stats, and in five minutes up to 20 players have to take down the monster with all the captured creatures they have amassed over the past few months. If the boss is successfully defeated, you’ll have a chance to capture your own elite Pokemon – however, you’ll need a Raid Pass to take part in such an event, and such items can be obtained once a day by visiting a gym.
Other minor additions include the aforementioned Gym Badges and some brand new items. Upon defeating a gym, you will receive a badge based on its photo disc, providing a ‘trophy’ of sorts for defeating any such challenge. This can be levelled up by visiting the gym and interacting with it – and thus rewards bonus items – however at the very least gives a little more motivation for sending your companions into the jaws of defeat. Additional items are also obtainable exclusively through defeating a Raid Boss, including Rare Candies, Golden Razz Berries and two brand new Technical Machines. Rare Candies act as universal candies that can work on any Pokemon, while Golden Razz Berries intuitively increase the chance of catching rare creatures you may find. TMs work as they do in the main games, although they only come in Fast Attack and Charged Attack forms. Whether this means TMs act as a mere move re-roll, or they actually allow you to teach Pokemon a specific new move, is still to be seen.
Analysing and typing out all of the new additions in this upcoming Pokemon GO update has really emphasised to me how many new features are coming to the game in the very near future, and all of them seem like welcome and substantial changes. I have personally avoided getting involved in the gym aspects of Pokemon GO as of late, as it was too much of a task to bring down the ridiculously overpowered Dragonites that were lurking around every corner. This new update goes some way to addressing these concerns, and the Raid Battle feature could be a revelation if it manages to reignite the Pokemon GO fervour that took over the world last summer. The recent heat waves in London have made it uncomfortable to be cooped in the house, so I’m glad that Pokemon GO has given me a proper reason to go outside and catch ’em all yet again. Expect this new Pokemon GO update to roll out over the next week or so – keep an eye on our forum thread and Discord Server for more details.