On Monday morning, shortly after announcing that in-game gyms would be temporarily shutting down this afternoon, Pokemon Go developer Niantic published a massive article about all of the new features and changes that would be arriving alongside the incoming gym overhaul update in the coming days.
Gyms are the centerpiece of what Niantic is calling “the biggest update to Pokemon Go.”
When the update rolls out, gyms will no longer be based on Prestige and training. Instead, every gym now has six permanent slots that anyone of the controlling team can fill with their Pokemon. Each of those Pokemon has to be unique, so if there’s already a Charizard in one slot, you can’t add another Charizard to that gym. Additionally, opposing teams will now battle Pokemon in the order they were placed in the gym, which adds another layer of strategy and teamwork to gym battles.
Tying the gym overhaul together is a new motivation system which will change the way you interact with gyms, both as an opposing fighter and as a gym owner. Every Pokemon assigned to a gym will have a motivation meter displayed over its head. Pokemon will automatically lose motivation over time as well as when they are defeated in battle. The lower a Pokemon’s motivation, the lower its CP, which will make it even easier to defeat. Trainers can restore a Pokemon’s motivation by feeding it berries, but if its motivation is totally depleted, it will return to its trainer the next time it loses a battle.
Also of note: Trainers will now be able to spin Photo Discs to collect items at gyms just like they do at PokeStops, regardless of whether or not it’s your team that currently controls the gym.
In addition to the overhaul of the gym battling system, Niantic is adding a major Pokemon feature to its mobile game: Gym Badges. You can now earn Gym Badges by contributing to gyms, and you can level up those Badges by battling, giving berries to Pokemon and spinning Photo Discs at gyms. The higher your Badge level, the more bonus items and additional rewards you receive.
Finally, there’s the new Raid Battle feature. Niantic explains that a Raid Battle is “a cooperative gameplay experience that encourages you to work with other Trainers to defeat an extremely powerful Pokémon known as the Raid Boss.” When a Raid Battle begins, all of the Pokemon assigned to that gym will be returned to their trainers and a big Egg with a countdown timer will appear over the gym. When it hits zero, the Raid Boss will be revealed and teams can begin attacking it.
In order to participate in a Raid Battle, you’ll need a Raid Pass. You can get a free Raid Pass by visiting a gym, but you can only hold one at a time (though Premium Raid Passes are available from the in-game shop). When you use your Raid Pass, you and up to 20 other trainers will work together to beat the boss in five minutes or less. If successful, you and your team will have the opportunity to catch it.
There will also be a selection of new items you can only get from beating Raid Bosses:
- Rare Candy: Turns into the candy of whichever Pokemon you give it to
- Golden Razz Berry: Greatly increase your chances of catching a Pokémon you encounter in the wild OR can be given to a Pokémon assigned to a Gym to fully recover its motivation meter
- Technical Machines: Permanently teach your Pokemon a new Fast Attack or Charged Attack
In order to roll out the update, Niantic will be temporarily disabling gyms starting this afternoon. Gyms will return when the update has been completed. After that, Niantic will introduce the Raid Battle feature as a beta to a select group of players. In the days to follow, more players will be added and Raid Battles will be activated at more gyms around the world until the team is ready to launch it fully.