Massively on the Go: Pokemon Go kicks off Rising Heroes by lurking in shadows


Pokemon Go players know better than anyone that Niantic’s really not great at communicating. Not only did the new season, Rising Heroes, launch in some territories with absolutely no notes beyond an unofficial Discord leak that’s proving to be true and dataminers’ summary of what to expect, but we’ve officially had no new dev diaries since November 2nd, 2022. That’s four months without the bimonthly dev communications Niantic promised to deliver after its major missteps in summer 2021 led to the Pokemon No campaign.

With rumors of further rolling back COVID changes that also added accessibility for all players plaguing the Vegas event, one would think Niantic would have spoken out or at least tried to minimize the potential drama. That has not happened, though so far, neither has the nerf. While this will be a summary of the new POGO season and March events, this Massively On the Go will also highlight the lack of growth and diminished trust towards the company in a time when Niantic dares to use the word “hero.”

Readers will note that a large chunk of the new “features” for Season 10 aren’t new. Bringing back Elite Raids without addressing their myriad of bugs and player discontent is anything but heroic. Visual pokemon sizes were introduced way back in November and were rolled out to include just about everything, including legendaries. Gimmighoul may be technically new, but it came out yesterday.

This month’s research breakthrough isn’t heroic either: Parasect grants extra stardust, Pinsir (like most Bug-types) has little to no use, and Furfrou’s been featured a lot lately. Goomy is fun but has been much more common, and Gible’s had its Community Day; while it’s usable as a Dragon ‘mon, its lack of access to the CD Ground move where it really shines is disappointing. And then there’s Snorlax, which is still relevant in both PvP and as a gym defender, but its being Gen 1 means we’ve had tons of chances to get one. In short, Breakthroughs, which started out as a legendary catch-up opportunity, continue to fall in value.

Speaking of falling values, this month’s “seasonal bonuses” are the weakest yet. Remember, “Increased Remote Raid Damage” isn’t an increase: There’s code to have remote raiders deal less damage, but since the feature’s release, the “increased damage” brings it up to a normal, in-person raider’s damage. The Team Rocket appearances at Pokestops and stardust awards are pitiful additions and look like a way to push more 12k eggs, which clog up most players’ inventory. Unless Niantic is really going to sweeten the deal on what’s in 12k eggs or do some egg events that reduce hatching distances, these bonuses basically apply only to padding Niantic’s wallet by increasing the need for people to buy incubators.

The “good” news so far is that the rumor about Remote Raid nerfs is the one major leak that hasn’t been proven true yet. My personal pick for both the best and worst dev quotes in 2022 involved Niantic’s Community Manager telling us Niantic had learned to give players a heads-up about massive changes, only for Niantic to ignore that and the previous blowback, to which the CM responded by announcing their immediate vacation right after being thrown under the proverbial bus. So given the continued silence from proper dev diaries, maybe don’t assume Remote Raid Passes are safe yet.

For this season’s spawns and eggs, the biggest news for longtime players is that Beach Biomes will be seeing more Goomy, Frillish, and Hisuian Qwilfish. Again, Goomy’s been more common, so having it as a wild spawn and Research Breakthrough is a bummer for the latter but fine for the former. Frillish is useful in PvP, and interestingly Niantic showed the male form, which typically doesn’t spawn in the wild; there’s no stat difference, but typically the male is seen only as a PvP reward. Following that, Hisuian Qwilfish’s evolution, Overqwil, gets some interesting wins in Ultra League, so it may be worth pursuing for some players.

In fact, Hisuian pokemon in 7k eggs is a nice bonus for collectors this season. The egg rewards look decent at the moment, but as always, without Niantic disclosing actual numeric odds like other companies that use lockboxes tend to, there’s only so much we can trust. One thing I will say is that while I’ll probably personally continue to focus on 10k eggs, I may grab some 7ks sometimes, just because I enjoy the appearance of the Hisuian ‘mon.

Then there’s the PvP changes. I’ll keep this short as I’ve very much heard the casual community and their lack of motivation ever since legendary pokemon awards have dropped; Niantic announcing that at least the May 14th Battle Day will be a paid event should help further reduce that motivation. Our often-quoted JRESeawolf hits most of the changes well enough, and it should be noted that none of the changes affects meta-relevant raid pokemon. The only minor thing I’d consider is Jellicent with Surf as a side grade on gym defense, mostly since Surf hits harder but it comes out less often than Bubble Beam. Even then, as a Jellicent defense user, I tend to stick with Shadow Ball as it hits hard and is the least likely to be resisted by most attackers.

March isn’t exactly looking much better. First is a season-wide paid event, Willow’s Wardrobe, which will grant Professor Willow’s Fashion Week outfit as well as a Melmetal with Double Iron Bash for $5 USD. Notably, for PvE, Melmetal will still be behind Metagross for raids and is seen as a side-grade at very best in PvP, so some players may be comfortable skipping this event, especially if they have Elite Charge TMs to use on Melmetals at a later date.

3/1 Update: To note, while the Willow’s Wardrobe paid research also enables you to evolve Meltans to have Double Iron Bash, thus far, both the jacket and pants have visual glitches. While we aren’t surprised with the bugs, as always, we are noting them for future reference when taking stock of Niantic’s constant and continued failings in this particular area as a “tech company.”

The Official Latin America Pokemon GO Twitter account strongly hinted at Hawlucha coming to Mexico on March 1st, and many of us are interpreting that as it being a region exclusive. This is problematic particularly for PvP fans as it’s been predicted to a major meta player, though datamining seems to indicate it’ll see a major nerf anyway. It’s disappointing, both in that it’s a good pokemon many people like for its ascetics, but it’s also an interesting typing that – if released world-wide – could have helped shake the scene up.

3/6 Update: The results are in from JRE, and while Hawlucha is not as powerful as it was prior to nerfs, it still can be competitive.

The leaked Fighting event is technically a “Catch Mastery” event on March 5th, but it features the Hitmon-family, which aren’t very useful. Expect increased shiny odds on them and research tasks for Hitmontop aplenty. Unless you’re collecting shinies of this family or want increased catch xp based on Nice, Great, and Excellent throws (which are easy to get on Chan and Lee), it’s largely something you can ignore.

March 8th-14th is the game’s third Festival of Colors event. Aside from avatar clothes, there’s not much historical consistency in this event, but leaks indicate this may be when Gen 7’s Bruxish appears. If it retains the moves its been datamined with, it could be useful for debuffing PvP pokemon with shields with Psychic Fangs and Crunch or useful for Rockets that actually shield. Otherwise, we’ll just have to wait for future announcements to understand the full weight of this event.

3/2 Update: The leaks keep ringing true, as we have official event details also noting Bruxish being added. As usual, this isn’t a raid pokemon, but JRESeawolf’s early thoughts are that it has potential for Great League (Slowbro may be the better option) and possibly use in Ultra League. And again, Mega Medicham’s debut means you should probably do a Mega raid Day 1.

For the rest of the event, seek out Paras for extra stardust. Wobbufet is a good ‘mon to grab for gym defense. For collectors, remember Burmy has essentially 4 evolutions each with a shiny: all males become the same Mothim, but each Wormadam is a different type with different moves, none of which are particularly useful in open PvP leagues but, again, may appeal to shiny collectors. PvP fans may be more interested in the rare wild Lickitungs and Galarian Zigzagoons, but more the former since the latter has had a Community Day and December round-up event. Research tasks aren’t much better, and you should especially note the asterisks reminding you that Oricorio is still region locked and your rewards will be for your region’s bird. Overall, we get some new stuff plus a few worthwhile pokemon to pursue. For Megas, I’ll simply recommend Mega Slowbro, as it’ll net extra candy and XL candy for Bruxish, Wobbufet, Natu, Krabby, and Wingull. Mega Scizor or (if you don’t mind only getting the level 2 Mega bonus at best) Mega Kyogre also work if you care more about the bug pokemon. Lords knows I’ll be Shuckle hunting!

March 11th is where we run into major trouble, though. This is an Elite Raid Day, which features content we’ve noted as being horribly broken, unrepaired, underadvertised, and basically rejected by the playerbase at large. We have no exact details on this yet. However, between leaks and images, we feel safe assuming the featured pokemon will be Regieleki and/or Regidrago.

Unless something drastic happens, and if we ignore bugs, both should be much easier to raid than Hoopa Unbound. Regieleki, an electric type, is attack-heavy, but Ground types, especially Garchomp, take significantly less damage, so it’ll be the easier ‘mon, especially if players decide to bring Primal Groudon. Drago, on the other hand, may be much tougher, since it’s a mono-dragon type with high HP, making it a DPS race. Recent Rayquaza raids should have most people prepared for this, but as usual, it’ll all depend on how Niantic deploys the event. Without major changes, expect to rush for the first few raids, as player drop-off is often significant, especially since neither one is immediately looking to be useful in raids.

3/6 Update: Niantic has released news of the event, and this is the first time the previously mentioned leaks got it wrong: the target is Regidrago. While the company is trying to entice players with the promise of a post-raid Timed Event awarding only candy for the previous 5-star-raid Regis, there is no word on fixing the myriad of bugs affecting the first ones, and disallowing Remote Raids after the company has gone on a Remote-Pass-Awarding-Spree since the Vegas Hoenn Tour, further highlighting how out of touch the company is with its own goals. The only good news is that Regidrago should be safely done with 3-4 people, possibly even 2, as Teban54 points out the way Elite Raids handle stats leave this Regi in a weakened state.

3/10 Update: And Elite Raids continue to deserve their negative reputation. Already New Zealand reported a massive bug that 100% prevents any participation in the raids at the first batch of raids, made worse by the fact that Niantic is playing data scientists again and skewing raid times towards the 11am slots, with their being fewer raids at 2pm and even fewer at 5pm. The initial bug was “fixed” with only seconds to spare, but players then bumped into bugged catch circles that made the pokemon nearly impossible to catch. The train wreck continues in that not only did many trainers walk away without their prized pokemon, they also didn’t get the promised Timed Research. When the raids did get fixed, people found out that the pokemon as a buddy refuses to eat. All on top of pre-existing bugs, like the 0hp-but-no-win-screen bug or lack of post-raid spawns.

And this has been happening as Niantic claims they’re trying to bolster in-person experiences. On a personal note, Niantic support still refuses to reimburse me in Elite Charge TMs from bugged Rayquaza during the paid Las Vegas Hoenn Tour, so I’d still advise players to avoid any major travel concerning Niantic games/events.

3/16 Update: The tragedy that is Elite Raids is not yet over. Niantic tweeted a full four business days later that they apologize for the failed weekend event, but it’s simply an announcement of an announcement, with no actual announced reimbursement for the failure. At best, I can imagine a special research awarded to everyone who participated in an elite raid gets that gives a Regidrago encounter, but as someone still fighting for reimbursement from the Vegas Hoenn Tour, I’m not holding my breath for much.

March 18th is Community Day. We don’t have any official information on this, but leaks bizarrely suggest it’ll be Slowpoke. With four different final evolutions across two base regionals, it could be interesting in a thematic way, but as always, watch this space for updates.

3/2 Update: The leaks were correct: it’s Slowpoke Community Day on March 18, from 2pm-5pm local time. This is for both the regular and Galarian Slowpoke, which is a slight issue: the Galarian ‘poke needs to be your buddy and requires you to catch 30 pokemon. During the event, both Galarian Slowbro and Galarian Slowking will require those pokemon to be Psychic types, making this a bit easier. However, it does mean you may want to do your trades before the event ends and switch your buddies before 5pm, which will cut down on both the time to catch and ability to walk and play. It’s hard to say that this will increase socializing, but walking and trading or changing buddies requires more concentration than simply catching wild pokemon with a lowered catch rate, so this once again goes against Niantic’s stated design goals.

As for usability, our raid resource, Teban54, notes that Mega Slowbro gets a boost as a Water-type from the event move, Surf, though there are still much better options, meaning both Slowbro and Slowking sadly will remain poor raid options. As the Galarians are not Water types (remember: use Psychic megas for this event to generate extra XL Candy), they don’t get better for raids from this event but all Slow-evolutions become better for PvP with this update from multiple early reports, especially the Slowkings.

The event also grants 3x bonus xp for catching. Slowpoke is notoriously easy to land even excellent throws on. Combined with a high-level Psychic Mega, this could not only be good for quests involving throws, but for generating a lot of xp. Mega Slowbro is an obvious choice, especially since it can also help boost water damage against Ho-oh in raids, though you really should be using Rock-types for quad-damage. The Mega Lati twins are also a good choice, as is Mega Gardevoire if you’ve been working on one. Mega Alakazam also works, but as a mono-Psychic, it gives less of a bonus, while newly released Mega Medicham should only be used if you have no other options, as you won’t be able to have one at Mega level 3 before the event.

March 21st-29th is a Rocket Takeover event. Leaks indicate this is when Shadow Regice will be available. This is also usually when we get new Shadow Pokemon and the ability to use Charge TMs to remove Frustration, so as usual, prepare your good Shadow pokemon for this, but otherwise, you’ll have to wait and see what Niantic adds to the event details at a later date.

3/14 Update: Seems this is actually two events.

Part one is the Let’s Go portion from March 21-29 as advertised. The Meltan box is supposed to have a lower cooldown since shiny Meltan will be available, as will more XXL/XXS Meltans, but Niantic hasn’t said how fast that is. Despite rumors, there’s still no confirmation that it will learn Double Iron Bash for people who didn’t purchase the Willow’s Wardrobe research mentioned above.

3/20 Update: The cooldown is 2 days on the Meltan Boxes, down from 3.

In addition to this, Ditto will be appearing more often and the elemental monkeys (which are largely useless) will be available in research, and still possibly shiny. For wild spawns, Galarian Stunfisk and Goomy are fine picks, and Trubbish grants extra stardust, so watch for that. Niantic’s also teased a collection challenge that’ll reward Meltan plus some other special research, but no details on that yet. At the least, there’s a double transfer event attached, so clear some room!

Then we have the Rocket Takeover proper from March 25-29. As usual, have TMs ready to take Frustration off of good Shadow ‘mon you’ve been holding onto. We’ll be getting some new Shadows, and Teban54’s PvE early graphs are showing that Shadow Sceptile is up with Shadow Venusaur, which is just below legendary and Mega levels, and while Shadow Blaziken is just below Shadow Moltres, making both good investments . JRE’s early PvP thoughts indicate that the Shadow versions of Sceptile (Great League), Blaziken (Ultra League), and Alola Muk (Ultra League) are upgrades. The new legendary Shadow, Regice (as predicted by the leak), isn’t an improvement though.

We should note that there’s also a line about Grunts having a chance to leave behind a Shiny Shadow Pokemon, but due to overwhelmingly frequent typos, bugs, and errors all-around, we’ve contacted PR to clarify this and will report back if we hear anything, or if the website is updated. As a side note, since we tend to trust dataminers above Niantic, the miners have found “Shadow Raids,” which basically sounds like raids for Shadow ‘mon, but we don’t have full details yet. So far, Remote Raids should work on these, so at least there’s possibly some good news there.

Finally, March 25th is Go Battle Day: Palmer. Gen 4’s Palmer is the inspiration for this season’s avatar rewards, and doing the free quest will grant his gloves at the least. Whether or not we also get some kind of Elite TM remains to be seen, so as usual, keep an eye open for updates.

This month’s raid options are essentially negligible, outside of Mega Medicham, which is useful in generating Fighting and Psychic (XL) candy and additional XP from those types. Unless Niantic announces new or exclusive moves, players burned out on raiding can relax this month.

However, Spotlight hours are looking good. While Eevee is best for newer players, the double transfer candy on March 7th is probably a welcome sight after so many events and minimal storage upgrades. Rowlett’s final form, Decidueye, isn’t exactly useful at the moment, but eventually we’ll have two forms, so collectors may want to stock up, plus it’ll be a good time to evolve those new shinies you may have gotten. Litten isn’t great either, but double stardust is always appreciated. The big one will be Popplio, as its final form, Primarina, currently has some use as a a gym defender with Charm and Psychic and will be more useful once it gets its Community Day move.

As always, we’ll be updating this post throughout the month. Hopefully Niantic won’t limit itself to event announcements but will open up real discussions about the state of the game and its declining image, but I expect to see more of the former and none of the latter.

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!
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