Update: Generation three has arrived in force and to celebrate Niantic has released a brand new Pokemon Go TV trailer that will let lapsed trainers know what they're missing. Taking inspiration from David Attenborough documentaries it shows new Pokemon exploring our real world, narrated by Stephen Fry. Watch it for yourself below:
Read on to find out more about changes to Raid Battles, Exclusive Raids and new Gym features in the game.
Original article continues below…
Pokémon Go has been out for a long time now, and while the app has progressed a lot in this time – just remember how unstable the servers when it launched – there's still lots more work to be done.
Some of these features are ones that developer Niantic spoke about prior to the release of the game, while others have been promised since the game's release.
Without further ado, here's our guide to every new update rumors as well as the tweaks promised by Niantic so far.
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Latest Pokemon Go update
iPhone woes and AR upgrades
Though the previously announced AR Plus for iOS 11 is an exciting addition to Pokemon Go, it's bringing some bad news for Apple users on devices not able to upgrade to the latest OS.
According to Niantic, an update to the game rolling out on February 28 will mean that Apple devices not able to support iOS 11 will be unable to cope with the upcoming improvements. These improvements will use ARKit to build on the existing AR technology in the game but ARKit is a technology only accessible to iOS11.
What will players get from the enhancements? Well, it'll fix Pokemon in place in the world meaning that players will be able to go up to them and see them to scale.
Having a fixed place in the world will also mean the Pokemon will be aware of a player's presence. Get too close to a wild Pokemon you want to catch and it could very well run away. An awareness meter will now appear beside wild Pokemon and if it fills up, the Pokemon will run away before you can catch it.
If you get really good at sneaking up on Pokemon and catching them, you'll also get a special Expert Handler Bonus which will see greater XP and Stardust rewards.
This all sounds quite exciting – just be aware that it when in AR + mode battery drain is likely to be even greater than when playing in normal mode. So it might not be an all-day-every-day gameplay mode.
In Summer 2017 Pokemon Go received its biggest update since it was first released and you can find out more about it and other incremental changes below.
Another significant update to the game is the addition of a dynamic weather system that's reflective of real-world weather. This system will change things up by, for example, making certain Pokemon types more likely to appear in weather conditions that suit them. Heavy rain? Expect more water-types. Heavy rain will also, however, affect the CP of a fire-type Pokemon in battle.
Gyms are being overhauled, new items are being added and a brand new cooperative group gameplay feature called Raid Battles is being introduced in the coming weeks.
Gyms have been changed up to encourage players to engage with them more often, adding a spinnable Photo Discs like the ones currently at Pokéstops which will distribute unique items and Gym Badges.
Gym Badges will serve as mementos but you’ll also be able to level them up through further interactions with Gyms which will earn you unique opportunities to receive bonus items.
Gyms will also now have six permanent slots that can be filled by the controlling team’s Pokémon and teams looking to take over the Gym for themselves will battle these six Pokémon in the order they’ve been assigned to the Gym. Each slot must now be filled by a different Pokémon (no double Digletts, please).
A big problem with Gyms in Pokémon Go is that players would often dump powerful Pokémon there and never return to check on them. A new motivation system is changing that. Now, when a Pokémon is defending a Gym they’ll lose motivation over time and their Combat Power will temporarily decrease, making them even more easy to defeat. Trainers from the Gym’s ruling team will need to take time feed the Pokémon defending their Gym berries in order to maintain their motivation.
There have been further small changes made to the way gyms work in the game since this initial update.
The biggest change is that players will now be able to heal the Pokemon they've left in gyms without actually having to physically return to the gym by using berries. The health regained from a distant berry will be less than that from actually returning to the gym but it's a convenient addition.
Other small but convenient changes include the ability to see which gym you've placed your Pokemon in via its stat screen and your journal will now tell you how many Pokecoins a Pokemon has garnered when you withdraw it from a gym.
The biggest new feature is Raid Battles which aims to bring a more cooperative and social dynamic to gameplay. When it’s introduced in a few weeks, players will be able to team up with others near them and work together to defeat powerful Pokémon known as Raid Bosses.
Raid Battles are timed in-game events that’ll be located at Gyms. When they’re happening, the Gym will be unavailable and a large egg will appear on top of it with a timer. When the timer reaches zero, the Raid Boss will be revealed. Players from all teams will be able to join together to defeat the Raid Boss, earn new items or even catch the Raid Boss.
To get involved, you’ll need a Raid Pass and you can get one of these for free each day by visiting a Gym, though they can also be purchased.
Players will also be able to form private raid groups with their friends using a customized code system.
Big changes were made to Raid Battles in November after players criticized the favoring of certain players and locations. Now, the rewards for participating in Raid Battles have been improved – expect more Golden Razz Berries and stardust.
In addition to Raids there are also Exclusive Raids. These new invite only Raids will soon be the only way to catch legendary Pokemon Mewtwo, which was launched in a stadium event in Japan.
To secure an invite for an Exclusive Raid, you'll need to have completed a Raid relatively recently at the same Gym where the Exclusive Raid is being held.
Recent changes to EX Raids has meant that they're more likely to take place in sponsored locations and gyms within large public areas such as parks, to make them accessible to a larger number of players.
Players with high-level gym badges and those who have participated in a high number of battles are more likely to be invited to EX Raids. Niantic has also made it so that EX Raids take place at established popular times at their specific gyms so that invited players are less likely to miss out on their chance to take part.
Pokémon Go update rumors: what we may see next
The expansion into generation 2 Johto region Pokémon was the first of three major updates planned for this year according to Niantic CEO John Hanke.
During a keynote at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Hanke said there would be three "major" updates to the game later in 2017. Though Hanke didn't detail what exactly these update would be, we at TechRadar guessed they would involve player-versus-player battling, trading and commercial partnerships.
Since then, commercial partnerships with companies like Starbucks have already happened and Niantic has confirmed that both player-versus-player battling and trading will be coming to Pokemon Go in the future.
The Pokémon Company boss, Tsunekazu Ishihara, told that so far they had only achieved 10% of what they hoped to and that "Going forward we will have to include fundamental Pokémon experiences such as Pokémon trading and peer-to-peer battles, and other possibilities."
It wasn't made clear when these features would be added but one more big update is anticipated before the year is out.
Trading was a key component in the original games so it makes sense that Niantic plans to bring it to Pokemon Go.
In the beta, trading was a local-only affair, meaning that you couldn't trade with players over the internet, and Niantic has now confirmed that will be the case for when it starts in the core game.
Tatsuo Nomura, senior product manager at Niantic told Polygon trading "won't be "through the internet" when it launches.
This local limitation does make some degree of sense – a big part of the fun of Pokemon Go is exploring new places and finding different Pokemon. Being able to trade across the internet would somewhat defeat the sense of discovery that Niantic has attempted to foster in the game as you'd be able to get Pokemon from anywhere without having to visit.
Being able to trade locally, however, means that any Pokemon you've discovered already and just haven't been able to catch can now be yours with the help of a friend.
Another feature that's been rumored for some time and now confirmed is battling between players.
As it currently stands the only battling functionality in the game is between players, opposing gyms, and Legendary Pokemon. However, PvP battling has been promised since before the game's release and given that it's such a huge part of the core games it's natural that it would appear here.
It's not clear how Niantic plans to make PvP battling work, but the most appealing method would be to allow players to indicate via the game's settings that they're willing to engage in battles which would make them appear on the map for others to challenge when near them.
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