Fewer terms are more iconic to gamers than “Pokemon Gym,” even though it’s a bit of a misnomer since most people visit gyms to train, not fight for fame and fortune. Then again, the Pokemon franchise has a tendency to misuse terms, the most egregious examples being “light-year” and “evolution,” but I’m rambling here. Getting back to the point, Niantic is changing how gyms work in Pokemon GO. According to a blog post on the official Pokemon GO site, these changes will be part of the game’s biggest update. Strap yourself in folks; it’s going to take a while to cover everything.
Prior to the update, Pokemon Gyms were fairly bare bones. Trainers could leave one Pokemon at a gym controlled by their teams. These gyms held up to ten Pokemon, and opposing teams usually had to grind battles to take over gyms. Now — or at least when the update is finished — gyms will have the standard six Pokemon limit. Furthermore, with the new system, each Pokemon must be unique, so trainers won’t have to worry about facing off against multiple Blisseys (Blissies?). The update will also introduce the motivation mechanic: the longer a Pokemon defends a gym, the more its motivation will decrease , and the more a Pokemon’s motivation decreases, the lower its CP will drop. Don’t worry though, the CP loss is only temporary. Trainers can boost a defender’s motivation with a berry treat, but eventually the Pokemon will lose all motivation and return to its trainer after its defeated. Also, when I say gyms are receiving a facelift, I mean it; gyms will look far more impressive, and each battle will start with trainers staring each other down, just as they do in the main Pokemon games.
Another big change to the gym system is the introduction of gym badges. They might not function like badges in the main franchise, but they are still a welcome sight. Pokemon GO’s gym badges will provide various bonuses and can be leveled by battling in gyms, giving berries to defending Pokemon, and spinning the gym’s photo disc. Oh, right, I forgot to mention that gyms will also function as Pokestops, which means trainers can obtain items by visiting gyms. Much like other Pokestops, gyms will attract wild Pokemon, but occasionally a raid boss Pokemon will spawn at a gym and supplant all defending Pokemon. As the name suggests, raid boss Pokemon are extremely powerful and will curb stomp even the most powerful of solo trainers. Once a raid boss appears, gamers will have five minutes to defeat these super-powerful Pokemon, specifically by teaming up with up to twenty nearby trainers — including members of opposing teams.
With powerful raid bosses come powerful rewards, including the chance to catch these Pokemon. Additionally, these Pokemon will drop valuable new items, including Golden Razz Berries (a more powerful version of the Razz Berry), Rare Candies (wildcard candies and can be used on any Pokemon), and the much-anticipated Technical Machines. Of course, trainers can’t just fight raid bosses whenever they feel like it: gamers can only fight raid bosses if they use a Raid Pass. These passes can be either bought in the cash shop or found at a local Pokemon Gym, but trainers can only hold one pass at a time, which means if you lose the battle, you need a new pass.
These changes just might be the booster shot Pokemon GO needs. Not only will the reworked mechanics encourage trainers to visit more gyms, but raid bosses will give players an incentive to cooperate, especially if those bosses include the legendaries trainers have been waiting for since Pokemon GO was first announced.