As dataminers discovered back in April, Pokemon GO’s Mega Evolution system has gotten its third reworking, plus the release of regional Kangaskhan’s Mega, released globally today and getting an 11am-2pm raid event on Sunday, May 1, gifting 5 free raid passes from gym spins and increased shiny odds. It sounds good on paper, but we’ll go over our hands-on impressions in the coming days.
See, Mega Evolution requires energy that is often a pain to get, especially if you miss the first few days of release. Raiding and/or days of walking for energy and then pouring those resources and now levels into a pokemon that may not be great stings. Maybe that’s part of the reason many people ignored the old systems.
While not all Mega candidates have been released yet, Niantic has released some pretty good ones you can invest in now. As we have some solid ideas of how those stats (and moves!) translate once the Mega is put in-game, there are others in the future players may want to consider watching out for.
Obviously opinions vary any time you do a “best” list, but I want to be transparent about how these pokemon are being judged, especially as my assumption is that most of our readers trend towards being casual, possibly daily players, if that. What’s best for the core MOP audience may not be best for hardcore PvPers who run with a crew and try to duo raids meant for 5+ players.
First is general utility. To be honest, I know many players who essentially use Mega Pokemon only for generating extra candy, and the new update seems to be adding to this system via XL Candy. However, the new system also gives an XP bonus for same-type catches that match your Mega pokemon’s type(s). While I considered adding accessibility here for pokemon like Beedrill and Pidgeot, I decided not to, especially as certain aspects of the new system may make those factors obsolete. It’s also partially why we’ll talk about pokemon to invest in now vs. ones for later, as not even half of all Megas have been released.
Second will be raid utility. While part of this is damage, we’ll also be looking at a pokemon’s ability to maintain raid buffs and how useful that type is. For this, I will heavily be relying on Reddit user catsarerunning’s coverage on this topic, Gamepress’ DPS spreadsheet, but also the article on using Megas for DPS support.
Finally, we’ll have a “PvP” rating. This is difficult because Megas aren’t traditionally allowed in the league play, but that may be changing. There’s also the issue of how they may function, as there may be limitations on their power, frequency of use, cups… it’s all unknown. For this reason, we’ll be lumping gym attacking into this category.
The total score will be out of 13 points: 5 for general utility, 5 for raid utility, but only 3 for PvP only because it’s so very, very messy and may require that I update this in the future. We’ll reveal that score next to each pokemon’s name on this list. We’ll also consider the primal reversion forms, on the off-chance that they’re treated just like Megas (which is how the main series treats them).
We’ll also be lumping multi-evolution pokemon together, as Niantic’s new Mega Levels promote more long-term investment in single pokemon, though obvious hardcores and crazy people may keep multiples of the same ‘mon for different Mega evolution forms for various reasons, which we’ll discuss.
Finally – and this is a big one – we’ll be keeping typing in mind. For example, Megas for Rayquaza and Salamence are both Dragon/Flying. Even if one is only slightly better than the other, the loser will be dropped just so we can help promote type diversity for investments, but runner-ups may be noted. Typing will also be the tie-breaker. For example, if Primal Groudon and Primal Kyogre’s points added up to the same total, Primal Groudon would win due to Fire being about as meta-relevant as Water, but also because it has access to Ground typing to give it additional flexibility.
Now, with all that in mind, here’s our list.
Top 5 Mega Pokemon to invest in now
5. Mega Abomasnow: 4/3/1
Mega Abomasnow is an interesting beast, being part Ice and part Grass. Grass is one of the most common types, currently with 111 varieties, many of which are dual types. On the other hand, Ice is the rarest type at 51, and also largely dual types. However, as Pokemon GO has a weather feature, we run into a little problem for many parts of the world: no snowy weather. This means that when Ice pokemon are pushed during an event, many players are really going to want to harvest Ice pokemon candy. This allows Abomasnow’s Mega to be useful in farming candy and XP for a common pokemon typing and a rare one. Interestingly, this makes it the top pick during winter events, as there are often Ice spawns, but in certain parts of the world (or nearly an entire hemisphere), there are also many Grass-types at the same time.
Its raid use is admittedly limited, though, especially as Ice is most effective against Dragons, which often come with fire moves that deal 4x damage to this snow monster. Grass also makes Aboma weak to Flying types, another of Ice’s traditional targets. Sadly, Mega Glalie is the only other Ice option, and between its stats and mono-Ice type, its use is far more limited.
While Snowmonster has its PvP uses in lower leagues, that 4x Fire weakness can be quite costly, and a vulnerability to Fighting always makes me leery of bringing a pokemon to League play where that type’s abilities at the least feel common. When you’re taking gyms, it’s mostly only useful to take out Dragons, though you shouldn’t bump into too many Dragon-stacked gyms. In terms of combat, just pick up Powder Snow, Weatherball Ice, and Energy Ball, just in case, as Ground is weak to both Grass and Ice but each types gets boosted off of a different weather type. Do watch out for fires.
4. Mega Pidgeot: 5/2/1
In terms of generating candy and now XP, it’s hard to beat Mega Pidgeot. Normal types are the second most numerous pokemon in the game (after Water), and Flying types are not only common but common among Legendaries, which is important for people earning rewards from certain quests and PvP bonuses. It also should be noted that the absolute best gym defenders (Blissey, Chansey, and Snorlax) are all Normal types, so getting plenty of (XL) candy to power your team is a pretty sweet deal.
Raid-wise, the bird doesn’t help your groups much, mostly because Flying is fairly niche against both raid pokemon and gym defenders, and you probably shouldn’t expect to see a lot of it in PvP scenes.
However, each generation tends to at least come with the 3 starters (always Fire, Water, and Grass), one Normal-type, one Flying-type, and one Dragon-type, so that would be a bonus to a third of a generation launch cycle. Rowlett, though, is a starter that’s part Flying, and it’s used in both the recently released Gen 7 and as a starter for the recent Legends of Arceus spin-off which POGO hasn’t fully entered yet. That means there’s cause both now and later to use the pigeon for owl candy, as Arceus is where Rowlett got a new final form.
Combined with the fact that many Dragons have a Flying subtyping, Mega Pidgeot may remain the best default Mega to have active for new players, casuals, and grinders, even with the few remaining generation releases we have left.
3. Mega Charizards: 4/3/1
Mega Charizard comes in both a Y and an X variant. In terms of utility, either one is useful, as Fire is reasonably common, Flying is very common, and Dragon is rare. While Dragon/Flying is arguably more useful for candy generation, Fire, Flying, and Dragon combinations are nice for new generation releases, as there will always be a Fire-starter, a new Flying-type, and often a rare Dragon-type, making access to Fire + another choice from one pokemon fairly ideal. Normal and Flying are more common, so Mega Pigdeot’s utility is higher, but the Charizard Megas give some flexibility in this department.
Unfortunately, in terms of raids and PvP we run into some problems. The X version needs Dragon Breath as a fast attack, which is a Community Day move a player can’t easily switch to and from with basic TMs, meaning it’s best for most players wanting to use these in combat to have two-separate Charizards to Mega. Charizard’s typing can also be a problem as Fire is often good against Ice, but both of its secondary typings are weak to Ice. It does give Mega X a slight advantage as a Dragon not weak to Ice, but it’s quite niche. Mega Charizard only edges out Pidgeot in that its typings help gain more meta-relevant pokemon candy and because its Mega forms have more frequent raid use.
2. Mega Gengar: 3/3/3
Gengar is a tricky pick. As the original Ghost pokemon, Gengar’s Poison-typing was always a problem, as it makes it weak to Psychics, the very reason most people would theoretically want to use a ghost. This is even more problematic now because Psychics are over-represented in the legendary and mythical roster. While Dark is immune to Psychic and thus defensively preferable, Gengar’s attack is so high that it can’t be ignored, making it a good choice to begin a raid with, but it also requires dodging to get good mileage.
The Poison-typing does help its utility, though, as it’s a common type in terms of catching, and there are a few choice pokemon that are Ghost and/or Poison you’ll want this guy generating candy for.
In PvP, Gengar is already a neat glass cannon, but its Mega form helps it gain not only a healthy dose of attack but also some defense, which could make it a dangerous contender if allowed in Battle Leagues. That being said, there is a future pokemon that does some similar things, but it may be more of a sidegrade.
1. Mega Gyarados 4/4/2
This is yet another pokemon that’s quite useful at the moment but has a potential sidegrade in the future. Water and Dark aren’t exactly complementary typings, but both contain some highly useful pokemon you may want to generate candy for. Water is the most common type in the series and Dark has some good anti-legendary/mythicals you may want extra candy for, especially as some of them are legendary/mythical themselves.
Unlike most of the other picks, Mega Gyarados as a Water pokemon has a large advantage in that lazy players often put Rhyperior (or worse, Rhydon) in gyms, which has a quad weakness to Water. Other poor defender picks, such as Tyranitar, Arcanine, and Steelix, are also Water-weak. While Fighting is often the best type for taking down a well-stacked gym, Water is still a good choice against casuals who just put in high-CP defenders without considering typing.
PvP is where things get interesting. Gyarados is already fairly useful, and its quad-weakness to electricity is pretty bad, but Electric types aren’t well represented in the traditional top picks. However, Fighting moves are, and many top picks are already weak to Fighting as well, so Mega Gyarados’ trading of Flying for Dark typing may actually be more of a hindrance in rank-play. Still, the Dragon-looking fish should retain much of its value even after later Megas are added to the game, not only for a good spread of candy and XP but as a solid raid choice.
Surprised to see such a powerful pokemon only at #5? Mega Mewtwo suffers from a few issues other pokemon do not. Like Charizard, it has both an X and Y version, though sadly Y remains only a Psychic-type, so in terms of utility, X will be more useful as it’s a dual Fighting and Psychic-type. Psychic is a common legendary and mythic type good for claiming rare reward pokemon, such as one-time research quests or from PvP wins, but that’s about it. Most wild Psychic-types are woefully weaker than what you can get from 5-star raids, and Fighting only has a few wild key players to collect.
For raiding, Mewtwo is mostly a neutral pick. If you don’t have loaded roster, Mewtwo in general can fill the holes thanks to its access to a variety of different type Charged Attacks. The problem is that it has not one but two legacy Charged Attacks, and if we consider PvP investments, that may severely limit its raid flexibility. You also have to remember that as high-end raids are largely against other Psychics, boosting other Psychic moves (and Fighting for that matter) isn’t very useful.
All that being said, both Mega Mewtwos are still strong generalists and may do well in League play. It’s not exactly beefy, but it gains some defense and hits like a truck. Heck, even without Mega X being a fighting type with Focus Blast, either form’s raw damage may be enough to threaten most gym defenders, assuming Niantic doesn’t add another stat nerf similar to the 9% one on pokemon whose CP go over 4000 by level 40.
A quick note about the recent Megas for Latias and Latios: while it’s exciting to be getting our first new Legendary Megas, the largest value for them is as generic legendary candy collectors, since, as noted, Dragon and Psychic are well represented in that category. That being said, outside of special raid events offering a variety of Legendaries which also lead to them as PvP rewards (both need to occur), even common pokemon may add more bang to your buck, especially in raids, as their typing and stats leaves them a bit wanting. Latias does have a bit of an advantage in a support role which we’ll discuss below, but as we’ll also discuss later, Alteria does this better.
4. Mega Sableye: 3/4/2
This one’s a bit of a gamble/sidegrade to Gengar. To be blunt, Gengar is miles ahead in terms of raw DPS. Poison arguably has some more generalized utility in terms of catching as it’s a more common typing, but Dark tends to have stronger and more useful pokemon. Now let’s factor in that Halloween often features both Dark and Ghost-types, often with a premier pokemon or seasonally restricted pokemon, giving you one pokemon to benefit the whole season.
Ghost and Dark also often compete in the same raid spaces. While Mega Sable may not dish out the most damage, it can boost allies of both typings against the common-among-legendaries Psychic typing, and unlike Gengar, it doesn’t have a weakness to the type either. This makes it a much better pick as a support Mega, a role rarely discussed, partially because the old Mega systems are largely reviled and partially because the DPS rush nature of the game means people tend to plan out groups better in person or simply can’t afford to via random raids with strangers (especially online ones randomly remote-invited).
Mega Sable may also end up having some good PvP use, as it’s already a sturdy wild card in Great League, but its Mega form gets an even bigger defense boost. As most Megas tend to prioritize a DPS boost in their new form, Mega Sableye takes stats we usually want in PvP. Plus, with its low CP, it may be one of, if not the only, Mega to see use in more CP-restricted cups.
Shout-out though to Mega Tyranitar, though. It scored similarly, as its Rock/Dark typing gives it a better spread, plus higher damage with good bulk makes it overall more useful in numerous raids, plus it’s a good call against Rockets, but quad weakness to Fighting while still being weak to Steel, Ground, Water, and some less relevant types will most likely hold it back in PvP. It’s one of my favorites, but as objective as I’m trying to be, I think Sableye just feels like the stronger pick for this specific audience. Well-to-do players should certainly invest in one or even two MegaTars as it suffers from a similar Community Day issues that the Charizards do minus the larger typing-spread, but that’s exactly why it feels like Sable here got the win.
3. Mega Swampert: 4/4/2
Bet you didn’t see this one coming! Swampert being part Water means high utility. There are some very good Water pokemon and it’s the most common type in the games. Ground isn’t bad either. In fact, if Niantic were to have the legendaries Kyogre and Groudon available at the same time, one could simply Mega Evolve a Swampert and be prepared for either pokemon as a raid reward.
Raid-wise, Swampert’s typing is great because it boosts not only Water but Ground, giving players in Fire raids two options to boost, and like Mega Abomasnow, they’re from very different in-game weathers. The Water typing does mean it’s not the best choice in an Electric-pokemon raid as it’ll take more damage than a pure Ground ‘mon (though still less than neutral damage), but you still have that flexibility.
We’re not done yet, though! Swampert’s a great pokemon to use against Rockets, practically becoming untouchable with the right timing and movesets, and like Gyarados, it’s still quite effective in gym battles against less meta-aware players.
Also like Gyarados, Normal Swampy is already a Battle League darling, and the Mega Form could help boost that in the Master League, especially as its quad weakness to Grass isn’t a meta-relevant type or shared weakness. This was one of the same factors that make regular Gyarados workable in other leagues, and while it could potentially shift, remember that Flying and Dragon are common Legendary and Mythical types. That may help hold Grass-types down in at least open Master League, though there’s some evidence Swampy’s Mega may just be “OK” in PvP compared to other Megas.
Admittedly, Primal Kyogre will be a much better choice for battle-focused fans just due to its raw power, but its singular typing hurts its utility, and its moves are slower than muddy friend here.
2. Mega Rayquaza: 5/4/1
Mega Rayquaza is probably not going to be seen for a while, but when it is, it’ll make a big splash. The Dragon/Flying typing is great because it mixes a common type with a rare, desirable, and meta-relevant type. That alone boosts it to be about even with Mega Pidgeot’s utility, who does grant more XP and Candy overall but won’t hit quite as many meta-relevant pokemon as Ray here will.
In raids, it has a similar issue with Mega Mewtwos in that Dragons are highly represented in tier-5 raids of now and future days, but Dragon is weak to itself. As raids are DPS races, picking Dragon is like using a self-damaging move with high-recoil in time trials: It’s the most optimal way to get the job done, but you gotta be careful. Dragon also hits many types for neutral damage, and as with Mega Mewtwos, its damage is high enough that it will most likely threaten most gyms, though the common Rock-type picks people throw in may actually bring the Flying Dragon some pain.
In PvP, though, Rayquaza may gain a lot of defense and stamina, but the quad weakness to Ice is a glaring vulnerability that may hold it back, especially as nearly more than half of the Mega Dragons possess this quad weakness, and only one (Mega Charizard) takes neutral Ice damage.
This was a toughie, though. Mega Garchomp, a personal favorite of mine, will most likely be the best answer for Electric pokemon due to Ground getting double resistance to that and Dragon adding another for 3x resistance, but that typing costs it dearly. It retains the 4x Ice weakness most other dragons have, but it takes neutral damage from the common Water and Grass types, and in terms of general utility, Flying has a wider spread, especially among legendary and mythics. Sorry, Landshark!
Admittedly, you could invest in Mega Alteria now, as it can debatably add more DPS against its fellow dragons with a large enough group while having more resistance than Mega Latias, sort of like a Dragon Sableye. Even though Fairy types are often rare, they’re not overall very useful. That could change, especially if Niantic adds more Fairy fast moves for “ruined” Fairies like Xerneas, which lacks a fast STAB attack, but I don’t have a great feeling about that change coming soon, so the Cloud Dragon’s sky-high hopes are left earthbound.
Mega Salamence shares the same typing as Rayquaza and offers some extra bulk, but it’s so minimal that the Sky High Pokemon overshadows it. The only major advantages it may have would be potentially seeing its release before Mega Rayquaza, having a Fire-fast move for PvP, and being easier to invest in due to being a non-legendary. That being said, if Sally here doesn’t get released soon or you wait until our #2’s already out, players with limited resources may as well save for ol’ Ray.
1. Mega Lucario: 3/5/2
I knew going into this that Mega Lucario would be a contender, but I wasn’t expecting it to be a top pick. It does make sense, though. Fighting and Steel aren’t hugely common, but as we discussed with Mega Mewtwo X, the abundance of Legendary/Mythical Psychic types immediately seemed concerning to me when considering the Aura Pokemon.
However, I had forgotten how valuable Fighting is against all the other non-Psychic, non-Dragons. Over 20 of some 80-odd Legendaries and Mythicals are weak to Fighting, a fourth of them all. Yes, there is an overlap with Steel, which also deals super-effective damage Rock and Ice like Fighting does, in addition to Fairy, but Fighting also smashes Steel, Normal, and Dark, making Steel good as a defensive typing but also giving Lucy an option to help with Fairy raids.
What’s also nice, though, is that many of the types I mentioned above (Ice, Fairy, and Dark) are also useful against the troublesome Psychics and Dragons I mentioned. This makes Mega Lucario useful not only in taking out a fourth of the overall legendaries but also in obtaining strong pokemon this Blue Anubis itself can’t fight. That’s not overly surprising, perhaps, but compared to, say, the Mega Mewtwos (who are strong on their own but work best as neutral picks), Mega Lucario has a wide range of targets as a strong pick. Despite having a few strong Mewtwos, I almost never use them, but my Fighting types are used daily, and I think that’s the kind of investment most casual players would want.
The one potential issue is PvP. Steel is weak to many things, but a Fighting-type weak to other fighters isn’t a good deal. Weakness to Ground-types is bad too, and the Fire weakness is a cherry on top of this weakness sundae. It does take down other Steel-types quite well, though, and with access to Shadow Ball, it can potentially deal with Psychics, something most fighters won’t last long enough to respond to even if they have an answer for it. It’s a toss-up, but if all the Megas were released today, even lacking a perfect specimen, I’d start walking a Lucario immediately to get access to its Mega form and Mega levels.
Again, this may be far off. Mega Steelix is out now and a fan favorite. The problem is that it has a similar issue with Garchomp: Ground’s not bad, but it’s not too broad, and it really doesn’t add anything but problems here, gaining weakness to Water and losing resistance to Ice and Grass.
I was really rooting for Mega Metagross, which I feel more certain about in PvP (it’s gonna hurt ya), but again, that Psychic typing isn’t great in Pokemon GO, where neutral picks feel like a liability as we try to run-down HP meters as fast as we can. Steel and Psychic just don’t seem like they have a lot of general utility in terms of generating a lot of extra XP or candy either. Well-to-do players will still want to find a good one to eventually build-up, but all around, Mega Lucario’s looking like the best option to invest in, not just among Steel types but in general.
Massively OP’s Andrew Ross is an admitted Pokemon geek and expert ARG-watcher. Nobody knows Niantic and Nintendo like he does! His Massively on the Go column covers Pokemon Go as well as other mobile MMOs and augmented reality titles!