Almost two years after getting our hopes up, Raid Battles are set to become part of the hit mobile game.
Pokémon GO’s launch last summer was more wildly successful than anyone could have imagined, turning what initially looked like a for-fans-only smartphone side project into a global entertainment phenomenon. Still, if you think back to the game’s original announcement video, you might recall that being able to find and catch Pokémon in real-world locations aren’t the only things we were promised.
The finale of the video is a dramatic sequence in which a huge group of Pokémon GO players gather in New York’s Times Square to pool their powers and battle the imposing Mewtwo, eventually defeating the rare Pocket Monster and even capturing it. As awesomely fun as the video makes such a collaborative effort look, team-up battles have been conspicuously absent from Pokémon GO’s gameplay, but that’s about to change.
Developer Niantic has announced that an upcoming update will add “Raid Battles” to Pokémon GO, in which powerful Raid Boss Pokémon will hatch from eggs that appear at in-game Gyms.
Once the egg’s hatching countdown expires, the boss takes over the gym, and groups of up to 20 players, regardless of team affiliation, can join forces to battle it, with special items and a chance at capturing the boss itself going to the brave Pokémon Trainers should they succeed.
Raid Bosses will be sorted into five difficulty classes, and players will be given one hour to take them down, suggesting a much more intense style of gameplay than the relaxed stroll-and-search that’s most strongly associated with Pokémon GO.
Gyms themselves will also be getting some significant system tweaks as well, with their assigned Pokémon capacity dropping to just six members, with the added restriction that all six must be different species. Under the new inter-team battle rules, each Pokémon gets a motivation stat which affects its combat performance and can be bolstered by feeding it berries.
In addition, gyms will be getting some Pokéstop-style features, as spinning their map icons will reward you with items and experience points. And if you’ve got no interest in Pokémon combat, Niantic is also going to make the explore-the-real-world aspect of the game more user-friendly as well by designating Pokéstops you’ve never been to by putting a ring around their map icons.
Niantic hasn’t specified when exactly these changes will go into effect. However, as of Monday, June 19, Pokémon GO’s gyms are temporarily closed, so it looks like Raid Battles are coming very, very soon.