The original Pokémon GO announcement trailer first dropped what felt like eons ago back in September 2015. The video teased a number of features which have slowly rolled since the game’s original release one year ago. Raid battles were one of the most recent additions, but it left fans wondering more than ever: where are the Legendary Pokémon battles promised in the trailer?
Finally, this morning, a new video announcement dropped with what fans have been so eagerly waiting for: Legendary Raid battles.
According to the website, Legendary Pokémon can be used to battle Gyms and Raids, but cannot be left to defend Gyms. It is unclear if players will have to catch them as with normal Raid bosses, or if they will join the player’s team automatically. Based on the trailer, it looks like the latter.
The new feature is a part of the one-year anniversary celebration and will be premiering at Pokémon GO Fest Chicago, the first in-person event for the game. Taking place Saturday, July 22, tickets for the event reportedly sold out within six minutes, as many guessed that the Legendary Pokémon would premiere there. It looks like their bet paid off.
However, the Legendary Pokémon first has to be unlocked by players around the world. Afterwards, it will appear in Chicago, and if Chicago players can defeat the Pokémon, it will then be available for players worldwide.
Sound confusing? Here’s how it works.
Phase 1: Catch Challenge [Chicago & Worldwide]
July 22, 12:00-12:30pm, 2:00-2:30pm, 4:00-4:30pm EST
During these Challenge Windows, players everywhere will focus on catching Pokémon. Players in Chicago will unlock perks based on the types of the Pokémon caught – grass-types will increase Stardust bonuses, water-types will increase XP gain, rock-types will reduce buddy distance, and so on. Meanwhile, players around the world will try to catch as many Pokémon as possible to gain the bronze, silver, or gold reward. The first two affect the duration of the bonus earned by those in Chicago, however, the gold bonus is what really counts. If players can catch the maximum number of Pokémon, it will unlock Phase 2: the Legendary Raid battle.
Phase 2: Mystery Challenge [Chicago]
July 22, 7:00-8:00pm EST
Chicago players will have one hour to defeat a Legendary Raid boss. If they succeed, players around the world will get the same opportunity!
Phase 3: Global Reward [Worldwide]
July 23-24 EST
After Pokémon GO Fest, the Legendary Pokémon will start appearing in Raid battles around the world. It is not clear if this opportunity will last for more than two days.
The Pokémon GO website specifically says that unlocking Phase 3 means “the first Legendary Pokémon will be revealed in Grant Park,” so this likely will not unlock all of the Legendaries at once. So, what Pokémon could we encounter?
As of generation two, there are 11 Legendary Pokémon. The Legendaries from the first generation are GO‘s team mascots Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres, as well as Mewtwo and the Mythical Pokémon, Mew. The second generation Legendaries are Entei, Raikou, Suicune, Lugia, Ho-Oh, and the Mythical Celebi. The trailer specifically included the five bird Pokémon, and briefly teased Mewtwo at the very end. Why those specific Legendaries were chosen for the video is unclear. One thing all six Pokémon have in common is that they can all fly, however this may simply be a coincidence, as it would be easier to animate CGI creatures into a video when they are midair and aren’t going to interact with other elements (such as the non-CGI ground or humans).
Another connection comes from the Pokémon series itself. Lugia and Ho-Oh are called the “Tower duo” by fans, as the two were the mascots for Pokémon Gold and Silver and have a yin-yang relationship. Lugia is said to represent storms, the sea, and tranquility, while Ho-Oh represents the sky, rainbows, and life. In addition, Lugia is considered the “trio master” of the Kanto Legendary birds, as it was the only one who could quell their fighting in the Pokémon 2000 animated film. Ho-Oh is also a “trio master” of the Johto Legendary beasts, as it is said to have revived them when they died in the game lore.
The Pokémon who didn’t appear were the legendary beasts of Johto, Mew, and Celebi. The latter two are considered Mythical Pokémon, and can only be obtained from special events in the main series Pokémon games. Considering all Legendaries will be event-only in GO, it stands to reason that Mythicals will retain their ultra-rare status in some way. There is little reason why we can’t see Entei, Raikou or Suicune, though.
It still seems most likely that the Legendaries featured in the trailer may appear this weekend. That said, due to Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres’ connections to the three in-game teams, it is unlikely that only one of the three would be chosen. Mewtwo was canonically created by humans to be the strongest Pokémon, is the last Legendary you encounter in Pokémon Red and Blue and is supposed to be reclusive, so it has more of a penultimate feel than a first-legendary feel. While Lugia and Ho-Oh are normally paired together, Lugia was featured heavily in the commercial. If only one Legendary will be available this weekend, Lugia might be a safe bet.
It’s hard not to be hyped about getting the first Legendary Pokémon in GO, but we still have to clear the catching challenge on Saturday first! It’s easy to feel left out of the Chicago event (though if you didn’t get tickets to that, The Silph Road, an online Pokémon GO community, is hosting a pizza afterparty), but Niantic is clearly trying to make players around the globe feel included. Whatever Pokémon appears on Saturday night, it will surely be legendary.