For its first birthday — can you believe it’s almost been a year? — Pokémon Go is getting a massive update. With it comes a revamped Gym system and…raids!
Under the shade of some trees just outside the Los Angeles Convention Center last week, I got a tour of the new features coming in the Pokémon Go updates that will be slowly rolling out as of today.
Gyms, Your Defending Pokémon, and Gym Badges
In an attempt to balance Gyms, Niantic will be introducing a few changes, summarized in these two paragraphs from a press release:
The new Gyms will add a spinnable Photo Disc (just like PokéStops) that will distribute unique items. Trainers will also receive Gym Badges—mementos of adventures that they can level up, increased rewards, and bonus items at Gyms.
Gyms will now feature six permanent slots that can be filled by the controlling team’s Pokémon, and opposing teams will battle Pokémon in the order they were assigned to the Gym. The new motivation system introduces an interactive factor for Pokémon assigned to a Gym that will impact their potential Combat Power (CP). Pokémon defending a Gym will lose motivation over time and as they are defeated, lowering their CP and making it easier for opposing teams to defeat them. Trainers from the same team can give defending Pokémon some Berries to keep them motivated.
You’ll be able to see all six defending Pokémon in one shot, as opposed to the current Gym system which has players swiping through them one at a time. Of the six, each has to be of a different species to ensure variety in each Gym.
Niantic has also decided to do away with the Prestige system — the current system that lets players train their Pokémon which raises their prestige and, therefore, their Gym level, and secures that Gym more Pokémon slots — because it was apparently too complicated.
In place of that prestige system is the new “motivation” system teased in the press release. A Pokémon’s motivation meter will diminish the longer you leave them in a Gym, or if they’ve been defeated. Giving that Pokémon berries will increase their motivation. The stronger the Pokémon, the faster its motivation and CP will drop. In combination with this change, you’ll now battle Pokémon in order of which have been at that Gym the longest, which Niantic hopes will give casual players a better chance to win battles, since those Pokémon will likely have a lower motivation score and therefore be easier to defeat first.
Raids and Catching Legendaries
Niantic representatives handed a group of reporters loaner Pixel phones loaded with Pokémon Go updates for the 30-minute outdoor demo session. They had us look at the map on our loaner and Raid Bosses appeared on the map. These Raids are Niantic’s new, cooperative social mechanic that allows up to 20 trainers to take on Gyms together. They see this as their higher level content.
Here’s the official, Niantic press release word on raids:
Raid Battles are timed in-game events that will temporarily take over a Gym, providing Trainers from all teams the chance to visit the Gym and group up together to defeat the Raid Boss and earn special new items along with an opportunity to catch these Pokémon. Friends can also create Private Raid groups via a customizable code system that allows Trainers to invite their friends to a specific Raid group.
When a Gym goes into this raid mode, it’ll spawn an egg and one to four raid boss icons. The countdown represents how long that raid boss will stick around for you to take them on. You don’t have to own the Gym to compete, but you will get an extra chance to capture the raid boss at the end of the battle if you do own that Gym.
Every player gets a raid pass once a day to participate in raids, but you will — no surprise — be able to purchase premium passes, as well, if you feel inclined to take on more than one raid a day. And then there are invitation-only raids — sent out randomly — which will involve rare and powerful Pokémon, including legendaries.
Defeating raid bosses also gets you a few new items. As stated in a blog post:
After defeating a Raid Boss, you’ll receive fantastic rewards, including some new items obtained only by defeating a Raid Boss: Rare Candies, Golden Razz Berries, and two types of Technical Machines—Fast and Charged. A Rare Candy is a mysterious candy that, when used on a Pokémon, turns into that Pokémon’s Candy. Golden Razz Berries will greatly increase your chances of catching a Pokémon you encounter in the wild and can also be given to a Pokémon assigned to a Gym to fully recover its motivation meter. Technical Machines are items you can use to permanently teach a Pokémon a new Fast Attack or Charged Attack at random.
The update is still in beta as of now, and it sounds like everything will be rolling out slowly. Raid features will be coming last, after the Gym updates — Niantic is still polishing up and figuring out exactly how many raids there will be and which Pokémon to put in them. Until the Gym features roll out worldwide, they’ll be temporarily disabling Gyms in its current form. And even once raids are rolled out in beta, only high level players will have access to them. Happy eventual raiding, everyone!