Pokémon GO is about to get the biggest update yet: Gym Raids

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Since its launch and subsequent explosion, Pokémon GO has seen a sharp drop-off in players. A seriously dedicated group of fans remains (myself included), but a lot of players gave up on Pokémon GO after the hype died down.

Niantic Labs have done a few big updates already, like improving the Nearby feature, adding Daily/Weekly Streak Goal and including Second Generation Pokémon. But if that wasn’t enough to get you playing again, Niantic are looking to lure you back with a major update that’s going to shake up a few aspects of the gameplay.

Gyms are now PokéStops, and will work completely differently

First on the list of big changes are the Gyms, which are now going to be PokéStops as well. So you’ll be able to spin the Photo Disc at Gyms and get revives, potions and anything else you’d get at a normal PokéStop. I know this will come in handy for those Gyms that aren’t close to a PokéStops, saving you from having to stash up on items before heading into battle or training.

Speaking of Gym battles, Gyms will soon be dropping the Prestige and training system. In place of this, Gyms will have six permanent slots for the controlling team’s Pokémon. As an extra twist, each Pokémon assigned to those slots has to be unique. So, no more impossible Gyms with three high-level Gyarados to defeat, or heavens forbid, more than one Blissey. One is always more than enough! On top of this, rival teams will battle the Pokémon in the order they were added to the Gym, instead of in order of the Pokémon’s CP.

This major change comes with a new motivation system that will significantly mix up regular Gym interaction. A motivation meter will be displayed on each Pokémon defending a Gym, and the meter drops over time, as well as when the Pokémon are defeated in battle. When a Pokémon loses motivation, its CP will be temporarily lowered, making it easier for rival teams to defeat. To keep the motivation level up, Trainers will use Berries to restore the motivation meter of the Pokémon at their team’s Gym. If a Pokémon loses all motivation, it gives up and leaves the Gym, to be returned to its Trainer the next time it loses a battle.

Back to Pokémon basics with Gym Badges

The next upcoming feature is Gym Badges, which you’ll earn when interacting with a Gym. Trainers will get Badges by battling rival Gyms, dropping off Berries for Pokémon in their team’s Gym, and spinning the Gym’s Photo Disc. By raising the level of your Gym badge, you have a chance to get bonus items and increased rewards.

Raid Battles: FOR THE HORDE!

One long-awaited feature that’s coming soon is Raid Battles. Taking Pokémon GO the proper co-op route, Raid Battles will have you working with up to twenty other Trainers from any team to defeat an extremely powerful Pokémon known as the Raid Boss. Before a Raid Battle starts, any Pokémon defending that Gym will return to their Trainers, and an Egg with a countdown timer will appear atop the Gym. When the countdown reaches zero, the Raid Boss will be revealed.

To participate in these new Raid Battles, Trainers will need a Raid Pass. You get one free Raid Pass per day by visiting a Gym, but you can only keep one Pass at a time in your inventory. Premium Raid Passes will be available in the in-game shop. Use your pass to join the battle, and, if you manage to defeat the Raid Boss inside the five-minute time limit, you get a chance to catch an insanely high-level Pokémon.

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Once a Raid Boss has been defeated, you’ll obtain a collection of rewards. Included in this loot drop will be some new items like Rare Candies, Golden Razz Berries (not to be confused with The Golden Raspberries), and two types of Technical Machines (Fast and Charged). A Rare Candy is a new type of candy that will turn into a specific Pokémon’s candy when used on that Pokémon. Golden Razz Berries are like the Ultra Ball of Berries, greatly increasing your chances of catching the Pokémon you encounter. Golden Razz Berries will also completely fill up the motivation meter of a Pokémon at a Gym. Lastly, you will be able to use Technical Machines to permanently teach your Pokémon a new Fast Attack or Charged Attack.

Now the bad news

While these updates roll out, Niantic will be temporarily disabling all Gyms, and per the website, they’ll only be back once the update has been fully rolled out. Gyms are already “under construction”, and all of my Pokémon have been returned to me (at full health). I’m glad they decided to kick out all Pokémon so that no one can earn Coins during this time, because freezing Gyms and allowing some players to earn while others can’t would have been frustratingly unfair.

Once Gyms are back, the Raid Battle feature will be rolled out slowly over the subsequent few weeks. Starting as a beta, raids will only be visible to a few players at some Gym locations. As the Raid Battles are tested, Niantic will invite more players to participate and unlock raids at more Gyms globally. Unfortunately, there’s no word yet on how long this is going to take, or when the update will actually start.

This is one hefty update, bringing in a lot of features that have been hinted at previously. If this is enough to bring previous players back into the fold, only time will tell. Personally, I’m not overly excited for the new Gym system. I’ve always been a solo player and putting the focus heavily on teamwork means I will probably participate in that aspect a lot less than I do currently.

But, if it brings in more players and I have more people to work with, I might change my mind. So if you’re Team Mystic, hit me up!

Last Updated: June 20, 2017

Tracy Benson

All about movies, board games, cider, sci-fi, fantasy and geek culture.

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