Raids Bring the Spark Back to Pokémon Go

The initial release of Pokémon Go was a phenomenon, the likes of which mobile gaming has never seen. Millions of downloads crushed the servers, hordes of players overwhelmed parks and other public spaces, and those of us who played felt a sense of comradery with strangers we’d never before met, even if they picked the wrong primary color. In the year since, much of the luster has faded as excitement has waned and people have become frustrated with the game’s many faults. While the game is still imperfect, the new Raid Battles have rekindled Pokemon Go’s original excitement.

What Happens When It Hits 00:00?

We were out driving when I happened to open my Pokémon Go app and noticed an orb and strange time counting down at a nearby gym with only a few minutes, so we made a detour to investigate. Minutes after we arrived, more cars pulled in and we heard a tap on our window. It was a little girl asking us if we were here for the raid and if we wouldn’t mind helping out.

We agreed and she and her parents spent the next minute or so teaching us the raid mechanics. To participate, you need a “Raid Pass” which you can obtain once per day by spinning the photo disc at a gym. In the tradition of microtransactions, you can also purchase them from the store. Once the counter hits zero, the raid boss appears, and you can work together with nearby trainers to help take him down.

Our raid boss was a 34,000 CP Gravitar, and the 8 of us only had about 180 seconds to kill him. Fail, and you can try again if you’ve got Revives or other Pokémon that can step up. While queueing for the boss, you can select your party and view all of the other trainers that are in your raid group.

Raids Bring the Spark Back to Pokémon Go
Raid Lobby

We narrowly defeated him on our third attempt and shared a moment of victory together. I recognized the names of some of the other trainers in our group as trainers whose Pokémon I would frequently see in the area and it was great to spend a few minutes together having a good time and getting to meet other trainers of all factions.

Something That Wasn’t There Before

This is one of the main elements that was missing from Pokémon Go: Community. Aside from some chance meetings in a park, there was rarely ever any opportunity or incentive to meet up with other random players. You would have a small group of friends you’d go claim Gyms with, but that was about it. Now, we can find each other and work toward a common goal.

There’s still a bit of cross-faction rivalry that’s going to occur. After beating the boss, you get a chance to catch him at a more normal CP level with some special Pokéballs, but the number of attempts you get is largely based on your faction’s contribution toward defeating the boss.

Pokémon Go definitely has its flaws and is still missing some features trainers have been asking for since launch (trading, anyone?). But for now, Pokémon Go feels exciting again. The exclusive raid-only loot you earn is good enough to make me want to keep coming back. If this is a sign of things to come, then I’m eager to see what’s next.

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Josh Nash

Josh (aka P53ud0Nym, aka jozNaz) got his start in gaming playing his uncle’s NES and his friend’s Sega Genesis. At the age of 14, he got a job, rode his bike to Kmart, and bought a Game Boy Color and Pokémon Blue. Josh enjoys RPGs, shooters, racing, and adventure games as well as teaching his two kids the ways of the Force.