Pokémon Go is finally getting a long-awaited revamp of its gym system, including “Raid Battles” for defeating ultra-powerful Pokémon with other players.
The game’s creator, Niantic Labs, detailed what it calls the “biggest update” in Pokémon Go’s history on Monday ahead of its first real-world event in July, where around 20,000 players are expected to gather in downtown Chicago.
Most of the changes will be gradually made available in Pokémon Go over the next several weeks, and all gyms are shutting down in the meantime. The redesign should make gyms more accessible and fun to use — and it paves the way for rare Legendary Pokémon appearing down the road.
Here’s everything you need to know about the biggest update in Pokémon Go’s history:
The entire way gyms work is changing. Six permanent slots can now be filled by the controlling team’s Pokémon, and only one Pokémon species is allowed per gym. (That means no more stacking of powerful creatures like Dragonite and Blissey.)
Opposing teams will battle Pokémon based on the order they were assigned to a gym, not their CP levels.
In the past, Pokémon were kicked out of gyms only after the entire gym was taken over by an opposing team. Now they can be pushed out if they lose “motivation,” a new health stat that is reduced over time and as they lose battles. Losing motivation also lowers a Pokémon’s CP, so you’ll want to feed it berries to keep its motivation up.
Gyms now act like normal Pokéstops in the game, meaning you can swipe them for special items.
You’ll also get badges for interacting with gyms, which can be leveled up as you fight and eventually earn you special items.
The biggest change to how gyms work is the new Raid Battle feature. It’s a co-op mode that lets you team up with other players to take down an ultra-powerful Pokémon at a gym.
Before a raid begins at a specific gym, all Pokémon in the gym will be returned to their trainers. A large egg will appear over the gym signifying a countdown until the raid begins, after which a powerful Pokémon, or Raid Boss, will appear there.
Nearby Raid Battles will be shown on the map next to nearby Pokémon.
The catch with a Raid Battle is that it requires a Raid Pass. You can get one free pass per day by visiting a gym, and you can only possess one at a time. They can also be purchased in the game’s virtual shop.
Up to 20 players can join a Raid Battle to defeat the Raid Boss.
If a Raid Boss is successfully defeated within five minutes, participating players will all “have the chance to catch an extra powerful Pokémon,” according to Niantic.
Specific rewards will also be given out for defeating a Raid Boss: Rare Candies, Golden Razz Berries, and two kinds of Technical Machines — Fast and Charged.
From Niantic’s blog post:
“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.”
Raid Battles could eventually be the way to catch Legendary Pokémon like Mewtwo. In Niantic’s first trailer for Pokémon Go, it showed players gathered in Times Square to fight Mewtwo together.
We’ll likely see these Raid Battles (and potentially Legendaries) in full force at Pokémon Go’s first big event in downtown Chicago on July 22. Tickets go on sale on June 19.
You can find out more information on the event’s website.