After years of bemusement, Niantic is finally overhauling Pokémon GO’s lackluster Mega Evolution systems, adding levels and bonuses to give players a reason to engage. This, they say, will make it easier to use the mightier monsters in the game, while adding more reasons to do so. It’s already rolled out in Australia and New Zealand, and reaches the rest of the world “soon.”
The nub of it is that Mega Evolution will no longer be an every-time cost of Mega Energy per Pokémon. Combined with easier Mega Raids, the ability to mega-evolve from within Raid screens, and brand new Mega Levels, it seems like this reimagined version of the concept could become a lot more appealing.
Cards on the table: as a daily POGO player, I’ve never got to grips with what Mega Evolution is actually for. I’ve done it, I’ve mega-evolved a Charizard, a Bulbasaur, and a few others, but the reason to do it entirely escaped me. Since GO doesn’t prioritize the main series’ focus on 1v1 battles, I’ve just ended up with a whole ton of Mega Energy for all manner of my monsters, and no discernible reason to use it. Four-star Mega Raids seem approachable with enough players, and when I’ve used a mega’d monster, I’ve noticed no useful difference. I’m hoping that’ll change with the upcoming changes.
One of the key changes is to the Mega Raids themselves. According to Polygon, these are due to get easier, and no longer require a team of four or more to be beaten. It’ll be interesting to see where this number settles, and whether it’ll be possible to take them on alone with your own mega Pokémon, much like current three-star raids.
“Originally we had hoped Mega Raids would be something players could take on themselves as an extra challenge,” says Ibe Owunwanne, a product manager on the game. “However, we’ve heard that Mega Raids can be more difficult than exciting, so over the last few months we’ve been fine-tuning the difficulty of Mega Raids to create the best balance between challenging and fun.”
More interestingly, the revamped Mega Evolutions won’t require you to keep having to gather more Mega Energy for each Pokémon after you’ve made it gigantic it the once. This was another hugely off-putting factor for me, trying to convince my kid not to mega evolve our Beedrill right now, since we won’t have the ability to do it later should we need to. And that ever-elusive “later” never comes about, given there’s no proper incentive to ever bother. From now on, mega evolve a Pokémon once, and you’ll be able to do it again and again for “free” after a cooldown period.
Then there are those Mega Levels. This is the incentive factor, of course, given there are now ways for numbers to go up. So each time you mega evolve a particular Pokémon, it makes its way toward gaining a Mega Level. Levels add more bonuses, which stay active while the monster is in its embiggened state. A given example of these bonuses is increasing your chances of getting Candy XL when you catch the same Pokémon as the one you have currently Mega. And given that won’t cost you the energy each time, this sounds like a good reason to give the mode a prod.
According to the @poke_miners Twitter account, there could be four of these Mega Levels, with bonuses including increased attack boosts, bonus catch candy, and decreased cooldown periods. The account describes it as “Free Cooldown,” ranging from 14 days at the base level, to three days at the max level. Which, if their digging is correct, suggests it will still be possible to use Mega Energy to re-mega more quickly. Hopefully this doesn’t mean that there could be a paid method of decreasing that cooldown rate, which would be... shit. Obviously this is all speculation at this point, but we’ve asked Niantic for more details. (See update below.)
It’s been almost two years since Mega Evolution arrived in Pokémon GO, and just shy of two years since I even remembered it was in the game, so it’s definitely going to be interesting to see if this update can make it feel like a more worthwhile, integrated aspect.
The lack of permanence for mega status is disappointing, even though it’s in keeping with the mainline games’ approach. But if there’s to be a better motivation to remember to ever bother to do it, it certainly sounds interesting. I’ll report back once the update reaches these shores.
Updated: 4/26/22, 17.13 p.m. ET: Niantic got back to us to let us know that the amount of Mega Energy required to mega evolve again will gradually decrease during the cooldown period, and there are no plans for any IAPs to speed up this process. Splendid.