Video Games

Pokémon Go's big new update: What you need to know

File photo: A man uses a mobile phone in front of an advertisement board bearing the image of Pokemon Go at an electronic shop in Tokyo, Japan, July 27, 2016. (REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

File photo: A man uses a mobile phone in front of an advertisement board bearing the image of Pokemon Go at an electronic shop in Tokyo, Japan, July 27, 2016. (REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

If you played Pokémon Go last summer and put it down waiting for some big changes, it's finally time to get back in the game.

Developer Niantic this morning detailed a number of big changes and new features coming to the mobile game very soon.


The biggest updates focus on Pokémon Go's gyms. Previously, they had been packed with nearly-unstoppable monsters packed in by the game's most zealous players, which made it hard to for more casual players to take control of gyms on their own. Now, there will be six slots for unique Pokémon at each gym (only one Lapras allowed, for instance), and you'll fight them in the order they were put there.

Those Pokémon will lose their motivation over time, which makes it easier to defeat them, but players on the same team can feed each other's monsters some berries.

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Additionally, battling has been found to be one of the game's weakest features, so the new gyms give players things to do besides fight. For instance, you can spin a photo disc at a gym just like you do at a PokéStop, which makes gyms worth stopping by just for some new items. If you do decide to battle, you can earn Gym Badges to show off that you made progress in battle.

The other big feature are Raid Battles. These are timed co-op battles between you and up to  20 other trainers to defeat and capture a super-powerful monster known as the Raid Boss. You get one free ticker per day -- a Raid Pass -- to take part in this kind of battle, though you can get extras through game shop (have to keep making money somehow!).

Last but not least, there are a few new items that you'll get only from defeating a Raid Boss, including Rare Candies, Golden Razz Berries and Technical Machines (TMs) to teach new fast or charged attacks. You may recognize Rare Candies and TMs from the original games.

Unfortunately, all these changes mean that Niantic is temporarily disabling all of the gyms in the game, so if you open up the app you'll see a barren map marked only by PokéStops. The gyms will return in the update, and Raid Battle will be rolled out over several weeks as a beta and then as a final release.