Pokémon has over 65 million monthly players. With over 750 million downloads to date, it isn’t surprising to see Niantic, the makers of the game, looking to bring new features to the most popular mobile game the world has seen.
On 19 June, the company announced a complete redesign of its gyms and the inclusion of Raid Battles, a new cooperative feature that’ll be rolled out in the upcoming weeks. This will mark the biggest update that Pokémon Go has ever seen.
For the uninitiated, Pokémon Gyms are, usually, located at points of interest across Pokémon Go’s map. While nowhere near as common as a Poké Stop, if you can think of a major landmark in a village, town or city, there’s likely to be a Pokémon Gym there.
You can think of Gyms as a collaborative, multiplayer tower defence game. Once you reach level 5 and pick between Team Mystic, Valor or Instinct, you can take part in battling and capturing Gyms. Currently, it’s not known why taking gyms is so important to the overall game. On an individual level, though, you not only get to lord your superiority over others, but you also snag some neat bonuses in the process (which we’ll come onto in a moment).
Below I’ll outline the new features that are coming out soon.
Redesigned Pokémon Go Gyms
Gyms are being completely redesigned and for good reason. In the community today, a lot of players are growing increasingly frustrated at seeing a multitude of identical Pokemon in a gym, such as a Snorlax, Blissey, Vaporeon, Tyranitar, Gyarados, Rhydon and a Dragonite.
The new gym mechanics are radically different from the old (well, current) system that Niantic use. Since launch, gyms haven’t changed much, in fact, the biggest changes to gyms have been the Pokémon that reside inside them; from the attacking power of a Vaporeon to the Lapras nerf. You can see a video of how gym battles were on this YouTube video. Fundamentally, its mechanics haven’t changed, till now.
The newly redesigned gyms bring the following:
- You can now acquire items directly from a gym like you would at a Poke Stop.
- You’ll no longer be able to prestige a gym.
- Opposing teams will battle Pokémon in the same order that they were assigned.
- There are now only six permanent slots in a gym. Each of the assigned Pokémon has to be unique.
- Pokémon now have a motivation meter. Once depleted the Pokémon will leave the gym. You can keep Pokémon motivated by feeding it berries.
- You’ll earn a badge for the gyms you own. You can level up your badge by giving berries, collecting items from the spinning disk and battling. Subsequently, by increasing the level of your gym badge, you’ll be entitled to bonus items and rewards.
The new gym is a positive step forward and might bring back players to the game. This much-needed redesign is seen by many in the community as a breath of fresh air.
Due to this large update, Niantic has disabled all Gyms. They will return, once the redesigned gyms are rolled out to players around the world.
Below, you can see leaked footage of the new gym mechanics:
What are Pokémon Raid Battles?
The new Raid Battles are a brand new feature to Pokémon Go. The cooperative mode involves fighting a very powerful Pokémon also known as a Raid Boss, which will be present at a gym.
Prior to battling the Raid Boss, all the assigned Pokémon will be returned to their trainers, at which point a very large golden egg will appear atop of the gym. These raids will be shown in a ‘Nearby’ menu (much like Pokémon currently are), and will appear under a dedicated Raid tab. Here, you’ll see the number of players currently in a Raid or the amount of time you’ll have to wait for other players to join the Raid.
It currently seems that a maximum of twenty trainers can simultaneously attack a Raid Boss. The best part is that you can be on opposing teams and attack a Raid boss together, so no matter if you’re on Valor, Mystic or Instinct, you can all work together to defeat it.
The Raid boss will be an ultra strong Pokémon. Pictured above, is a 25,346CP Tyranitar and a 22,646CP Alakazam. Yes, you read those numbers right! But, given there will be over twenty trainers fighting at the same time, it should make Raids a socially enjoyable experience.
You can only battle a Raid Boss if you have a Raid Pass. This can be attained by visiting a gym. Only one pass can be held at a time, however, you’ll be able to purchase Premium Raid Passes through the in-game shop by using Poke Coins.
If you successfully defeat a Raid Boss within five minutes, you’ll be granted the chance to catch an ultra powerful Pokémon of your own. Nothing has been revealed about the rare Pokémon just yet, but some are speculating legendaries, such as Zapdos.
New items will also feature as a reward for defeating the Raid Boss. These new items include a Rare Candy, that when used on a Pokémon, turns into that Pokémon’s Candy. Golden Razz Berries are aimed at fully recovering your deflated Pokémon’s motivation meter (from losing too many Pokémon battles in a gym), but can also be used to increase your chances of catching any Pokémon in the wild. Finally, Technical machines will be used to permanently teach your current Pokémon a new Fast Attack or Charged Attack, which means changing your Pokémon’s move sets.
These items might completely change the way the game is played. The update will be rolled out to certain players as a beta, which means only a select few will be able to see it at certain gym locations. Once it has been successfully rolled out and patched, it’ll filter down to every Pokémon Go players around the world.