Since the very beginning of Pokemon GO, the mobile game’s PvP aspect has been its weakest link. The gym system was fun at first, but quickly became too repetitive and a grind that offered too few rewards for the time investment. After a year of feedback and planning, Niantic is finally ready to switch things up with some major changes to Pokemon GO’s gym mechanics and a brand new raid feature.

The official Niantic announcement was full of details to unpack. Let’s start off with the Gym changes, before moving on to Battle Raids. When the update arrives, players will finally be able to spin on Gyms to receive items, similar to Pokestops. That’s just the beginning of the change though…

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Gyms are no longer based on Prestige and training. Instead, they now feature six permanent slots that can be filled by the controlling team’s Pokémon. Each Pokémon assigned to these slots must be unique. For example, only one Blissey can be assigned to a Gym at a time. In addition, opposing teams will battle the Pokémon in the order they were assigned to the Gym.

When a Pokémon is assigned to a Gym, a motivation meter will be displayed. Pokémon assigned to defend a Gym lose motivation over time and as they are defeated in battle. As a Pokémon loses motivation, its CP will temporarily decrease, making it easier for opposing teams to defeat. To help keep the Pokémon motivated and in tip-top shape for their next battle, Trainers can treat their team’s Pokémon to some Berries, which restore their motivation. If a Pokémon loses all motivation, it will leave the Gym and return to its Trainer the next time it loses a battle.

By actively engaging in Gyms, players have the chance to earn the new Gym Badges…

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Gym Badges serve as mementos of your Pokémon GO adventures and reflect your contribution to a Gym’s success… You’ll be able to level up your Badges by battling, giving Berries to the Pokémon in the Gym and spinning the Gym’s Photo Disc. You can earn the opportunity to receive bonus items and increased rewards from Gyms by raising the level of your Gym Badge.

Another new feature of Gyms will be the Raid Battles. Raids offer up to 20 players the chance to work together to take down a super powerful Pokemon and then collect items (or maybe even a rare Pokemon) as a reward. Here are the details…

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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. Before a Raid Battle begins, all Pokémon assigned to the Gym will return to their Trainers, and a large Egg will appear atop the Gym. When the countdown above the Egg reaches zero, the Raid Boss will be revealed.

Before you can battle the Raid Boss, you’ll need a Raid Pass. You can get one free Raid Pass per day by visiting a Gym, but you can only hold one at a time. You can also get Premium Raid Passes from the in-game shop. Upon using your pass to join the battle, you and up to 20 other Trainers work together to defeat the Raid Boss. If you successfully defeat the Raid Boss within the five-minute time limit, you’ll have the chance to catch an extra powerful Pokémon of your own!

What do you think of the changes coming to Pokemon GO? Are you excited to participate in raids? Let us know in the comments!

Pokemon GO is available now for iOS and Android devices in select regions.

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