Pokemon GO will be shutting down all gyms tomorrow, June 19, in preparation for their “major” gym update, according to the official Pokemon GO Twitter account. And while our knowledge of what will be happening in the update is limited, we do know a few things for sure and can make some educated guesses as well.
Although it hasn’t been confirmed yet, it is fairly likely that at the time of the shutdown, all Pokemon currently in gyms will be returned to their trainer’s inventory unharmed. We’re not sure what will happen with the gyms at that point; whether they’ll turn “white” and remain at level 0, or disappear, or something else is anyone’s guess – although knowing Pokemon, we’re also entertaining the idea of a special “under construction” graphic to keep everyone excited about the new features.
So let’s talk about those new features. According to Pokemon GO developer Niantic, gyms are going to be completely overhauled in the largest update they’ve ever made to the game. And while, as Comicbook notes, information on the new gym features has been sparse, we do know a few things between official statements and uncovered tidbits provided by data miners, who keep finding hints buried in Pokemon GO‘s code.
In preparation for some exciting new features, we’ll be temporarily disabling Gyms starting June 19. Stay tuned for more information.
— Pokémon GO (@PokemonGoApp) June 17, 2017
Here’s what we know from official sources so far. It’s common knowledge that Pokemon GO‘s competitive play basically isn’t, and apart from some very hardcore players, in some very limited way, cooperative play is practically non-existent. Cooperative play right now is limited to bringing down enemy gyms somewhat faster, and leveling up your own a bit faster. It’s also usually carried out by high-level players who stuff as many people as possible in a vehicle and, ultimately, is actually anti-competition, as it mostly involves converting one level 10 gym full of the same five high-level Pokemon into another level 10 gym full of the same five high-level Pokemon. To put it another way, it’s not very fun for Pokemon GO‘s casual players, who also happen to be Niantic’s core target.
Niantic wants to encourage cooperative play, but they’ve been fairly tight-lipped on how they intend to achieve that. One thing that has been mentioned is “raids,” which will apparently call local players to a nearby gym for some sort of snap event – what that actually is remains to be seen, although some have suggested that raids are how legendary Pokemon will be introduced to the game.
Data miners have provided a bit more insight. According to the data miners at The Silph Road, there are hints that trainers will be required to feed their gym defenders berries to keep them in top shape; players will also be receiving notifications when their gyms are under attack. Both features are reminiscent of Niantic’s other augmented reality game, Ingress, which keeps players involved with daily decay and ranged defense (while attackers have to be nearby.)
Also of interest, a line of code has been found which suggests that each gym will be limited to a single Pokemon of a given species – in other words, no more gyms loaded with 10 Dragonite or (perish the thought) Blissey. It would certainly help shake the metagame out of its extremely stagnant current state.
As for raids, data miners have also found mention of raid “activities” in the code: specifically, “defeat raid Pokemon,” “feed berry,” and “search gym.” This actually lends some weight to the theory that legendaries will be arriving with raids – one expects a “raid Pokemon” to be something rather tougher than average.
So, what really can we expect? Nobody knows for sure, but it sounds an awful lot like Pokemon GO is going to start looking more like Ingress. Options to defend gyms remotely and special gym events are probably coming soon.
And maybe we’ll also start finding a use for all of these fire-type Pokemon we’ve been catching lately.
[Featured Image by Niantic Labs]