A while back, Niantic had announced some big plans on their awesome game. I’ve been keeping an eye out for the latest Pokemon GO news and updates, and it looks like the highly waited gym update is finally upon us!
With the Solstice Event finally over, the Pokémon GO team is working on adding the new gym features which they had announced, along with a Raid Battle event. As a result, they have shut down all of the gyms in the game until they are done rolling out the new features.
(Update: Looks like I typed too slow! Apparently, the features are already implemented in the new update, but the gym features are being rolled out by region.)
Updates for Android and iOS
At a quick glance, here is a summary of the dev team’s recent changes to the app:
- Gym features significantly updated to add the all-new motivation system.
- Added new Gym Badge feature.
- Added in-app and push notification system for Gyms.
- Added Raid Battles, a new cooperative gameplay experience.
- Added four new items available only by completing Raid Battles.
- Added Raids tab to Nearby screen.
- Added search functionality to Pokémon collection screen.
- Added visual indicator to unvisited PokéStops.
For once, no minor text fixes! 😛
In all seriousness, the updates look very promising, and really looks like a big overhaul for those who enjoy gym battles.
Personally, I like the idea of having push notifications. It looks like Niantic took notes from their other successful app, Ingress, which had a similar feature for their portal hacking system. In that game, if you had control over a portal (aka a “Gym”), you would receive a notification on your phone whenever it was under attack. It’s good to know when your gym is under attack, that way you can prepare to defend it!
First off, we get to collect items from Gyms, just as if they were PokéStops! This is awesome, especially for those Gyms with not a single stop nearby. I don’t know about you guys, but where I live, the closest Gym within walking distance is about 4km away. Having a place to battle, but also collect items, is a really nice treat from the devs.
6 Unique Slots for Pokémon
This… definitely this. I’m sure that there are plenty of players out there who were reasonably frustrated at the notion of seeing a level 10 Prestige Gym filled to the brim with nothing but Blisseys. With a rare Pokemon like that, it makes you wonder how they can even be considered a rare find. (On a side note, wouldn’t it be cool if they add a feature that lets you inspect a trainer’s stats?)
Another thing to note: attacking players will battle the Gym’s Pokémon in the order in which they are assigned to the gym, as opposed to their Combat Level. First come, first served!
Motivation: It ain’t about how hard you can hit!
According to Niantic, this is the most essential aspect about their gym facelift. When a Pokémon is assigned to a gym, they will have a motivation meter displayed, which represents their willingness to stay in the gym and battle.
A Pokémon’s motivation decreases over time, and also with every defeat they suffered in battle. A Pokémon with low motivation will leave the gym as soon as it loses a battle. In order to keep a Pokémon in the gym, they need to be fed Berries. If we are looking at the image below, I assume that we are using Razz Berries, and not a new standalone item.
The biggest thing I like about the new facelift for the gym is that it removes the “turtling” aspect for Gym defenders. When a team had control of a gym, most would load them up with powerful mons like Blissey and Tyranitar, and that was it. They could sit on their laurels and reap the benefits for days on end, without any further input. (let’s not get started on the fact that some of these folk may be GPS spoofers!)
As you can see, gym defenders will now have to take on a more active role if they wish to keep a gym under their control.
This feature just screams “Achievements”, but according to the info on Niantic’s site, they are another opportunity for players to obtain more rewards for holding a gym. Hopefully they still keep the defense bonus of coins and stardust… Unless this update will replace those bonuses? I noticed on my game that the little shield icon that usually occupies the top-right corner of the shop screen was missing.
When you interact with a Gym, either by swiping it or battling, you will be able to earn a badge. These Badges can be leveled up by collecting items from the gym, feeding Berries, and battling (aka. training at the gym?)
As for what these rewards are, that remains to be seen…
A Raid Battle is a cooperative gameplay experience that encourages you to work with other Trainers to defeat an extremely powerful Pokémon. – The Pokémon GO team
This looks like a very fun and promising new feature. In a nutshell, the game allows players to work together to take down a high level Pokémon for the chance to catch a rare Pokémon, along with a bevy of exclusive items as a reward for winning.
As cool as this sounds, there is a catch; to the Raids: you can only battle in a Raid for as long as you have a Raid Pass, and you can only hold one pass at a time. Obtaining them is pretty simple; just visit a Gym to collect one. The new update also has the option of a Premium Raid Pass, which can be bought from the in-game store.
To fight a Raid Boss, players will have to be on the lookout for a large egg on top of a nearby Gym. Players can also track nearby Raids on the bottom-right corner, where one normally finds nearby Pokemon. There will be a countdown timer which, when it reaches zero, will reveal the Raid Boss.
Once you see it, you can join up with 20 other nearby players to battle the Raid Boss. This feature reminds me of the original trailer for Pokémon GO, when a huge crowd all gathered to battle Mewtwo.
Perhaps this feature is a sign that players may be able to catch Legendary Pokémon in the future…?
As mentioned above, there will now be some new items added to the game, some of which are exclusive to Raid Bosses. These items are as follows:
These items will turn into Pokémon candy, depending on which Pokémon you use it on. As you can imagine, using these on your rarest mons will grant you more candies for powering up and levelling, and saves you some kilometers of walking around your buddies.
Golden Razz Berries
The cream of the crop for berries, these little gold beauties serve two purposes; first off, they can be used to increase your chances of catching wild Pokémon. Secondly, they can be used to boost a Pokémon’s motivation to max.
Just like the handheld games, these items allow you to teach new attacks to your Pokémon. There are two kinds of TMs; one for fast attacks, and one for charged attacks. If you have a high CP Pokémon with good stats, but poor moves, this is your chance to make things better! Keep in mind that these moves are random, so there’s no telling what you’ll get!
All in all, this is a pretty welcome update to a game that has yet to see any groundbreaking gameplay mechanics added in the year that the game has been out. I’ve already seen the new HUD updates on my Android, but I have yet to see if the gym changes have been made to my local Gym.
I have to be honest; I thought this update was going to take longer, but it looks as though they already have things in place. It’s just a matter of rolling out the updates by location for now.
Until then, the most we can do is sit tight and wait for the full confirmation that the update is complete.