A new Pokemon Go update has appeared, featuring Team Rocket of all people. Wait, no, not Team Rocket. This lot are called Team GO Rocket, to totally differentiate themselves. Team GO Rocket are attacking Pokestops and stealing the resources from them and it’s up to us to stop them!
Actually, the system is pretty cool. You can spot an affected (infected?) Pokestop because it’s darker than most and the cube on top vibrates and glitches out. As you get closer, the Pokestops turn black, a nice red R appears on top and a Team Rocket Go NPC appears and challenges you to battle.
These battles work like normal PvP battles and the Shadow Pokemon in question seem to do a bit of damage. You have no idea what Pokemon they will use (the Grunts will have a line based on the type of their best Pokemon only) and the three recommended Pokemon given to you are just your highest CP ones. I’d recommend taking one Pokemon strong against fire, one against grass and one against water, or perhaps a Dragon type or two, since the Pokemon that the Team Rocket Go Grunts use are Gen 1 starters (all three evolutions), the Zubat family, the Rattata family, the Dratini evolutions, the Mudkip evolutions and Snorlax. It seems that they are stronger than normal but much, much weaker to their normal weaknesses. Also, the battles WILL require you to revive your Pokemon, unlike normal PvP battles. The two fights I had, I got through them no problem (even though they did kill my poor maxed out Groudon) but apparently the Snorlax fights are scary and genuinely difficult.
Upon defeating the Grunt, you get a bunch of Premier Balls, the ones from Raids. You get 4 to start off with and get more as you complete the two related badges/medals from defeating gyms and, uh, purifying Pokemon. Apparently the Team GO Rocket Grunts are so evil that they just abandon their Pokemon, they’re not good like us, sending their unwanted Pokemon to the Professor… But either way, we can catch the abandoned Pokemon and look after it and love it, unlike Team GO Rocket…
Yeah, these are actual shadow Pokemon with a fancy purple fire effect around them. Like weird clones of Gastly. But luckily you can purify them, which, according to Professor Willow, makes them stronger. The shadow Pokemon all have the charge move Frustration which does 10 damage and has 3 bars. You get the same Pokemon from each Pokestop but they all have different stats. You can purify the Pokemon by spending some candy and some stardust on them, which is both really simple but also kinda… I dunno, I would have thought that having them as your buddy for 1km or something would have been more in spirit of things.
The appearance of this update hasn’t been smooth. Team GO Rocket-infected Pokestops were originally very rare (the whole Team Rocket thing had been out for a few days and most people had only seen one, I’d seen none) but then they all suddenly disappeared, then suddenly Niantic brought them back. People think it’s because you could trade shadow Pokemon and purify them for a really high chance (like 40%) to get 100% Pokemon but it was probably a bunch of things. Because 100% IV Pokemon aren’t that amazing.
But now there is a mini special research quest thing to go alongside the appearance of Team GO Rocket. Once you’ve ignored Professor Willow stating the fucking obvious, you get given access to a 4-part quest. The first part is very simple, you need to evolve 2 Pokemon and power up Pokemon 5 times (bro funnily enough had the normal research task and completed that second one twice). You get two Pokemon encounters as rewards (Murkrow and Sableye) and I assume that the rest of the tasks will reward similar Pokemon. The second stage is to fight 3 Team Rocket Grunts and catch 2 Shadow Pokemon. Sounds simple but is reliant on how regular these Pokestops are. I’ve only seen two total so far. But they do give some nice encounters.
I actually don’t know what the rest of the 4-part quest is either. There’ll probably be more information on it once more people have finished it, but I am always happy to see more special research. Nice to get more rewards. But I’m going to be honest, Team GO Rocket is kinda lame. I would have called them Team Rocket GO! or something like that. Or Team Grocket, because why not.
All in all, this is an… interesting change. Having actual NPCs to fight does shake things up, and while the shadow and purified Pokemon pool is small right now, it’ll hopefully open up soon and we’ll see some more interesting things.
Or it’ll be forgotten about. Who knows?