This summer has undoubtedly been the best for Pokémon Go. From the many community events, such as Go Fest 2.0 and the Yokohama Safari Zone, to the introduction of trading, trainers have had more to enjoy than ever before. The good news is that the festivities of the season aren’t over. Niantic recently announced the Ultra Bonus for completing all of Professor Willow’s Global Challenges will start today, September 13th.
In addition to the Generation I region exclusives being added to Friendship eggs, players will see a few Legendaries return to raid battles. The standout of these has to be Mewtwo, the Pokémon that has only been available to battle and capture through the controversial EX raid system. Starting on September 20th, all trainers will have a better chance to find the powerful Psychic-type in raids, and while that’s already exciting news, its availability outside of EX battles also inspires enticing possibilities.
With Mewtwo in level five Gyms, what does that mean for the future of EX raids? Well, with Niantic’s track record of launching new features and tweaking old ones out of the blue (we’re looking at you, Friends system and Gyms), Mewtwo’s migration could mean anything. However, I believe three significant changes could occur.
The first and perhaps least exciting possibility is that Mewtwo will return to EX raids once the Ultra Bonus event ends. Of course, to spice things up, trainers will have the chance to encounter its shiny form, and all Mewtwo will come with an exclusive new move, similar to the format of a Community Day. It would be highly unlikely that Niantic would bring Mewtwo out to the masses and then return it to the exclusive, pass-only raids with no significant updates. While the developer hasn’t confirmed this, I have a hunch that Mewtwo’s wider availability is the last push from Niantic to bring newcomers or those that haven’t received an EX pass up to date with everyone. Then, when Mewtwo flies back into secrecy, the hardcore trainers will want to find the new and rarer version of the shiny Pokémon. For a game that seemingly has no end, small steps like these have to be made to give dedicated players a reason to hunt for EX passes again. Plus, raid passes aren’t cheap. Niantic wouldn’t want to throw away future revenue by giving players little to no incentive to grind through raids.
Generation III’s transformative Legendary takes over
The second option, which many trainers would be ecstatic to see happen, is to have a new Pokémon replace Mewtwo in EX raids. As I previously said, it’s great to know that many trainers missing Mewtwo from their Pokédexes will soon have a chance to register the ‘mon, but Niantic needs to breathe new life into the EX raid system once the Ultra Bonus festivities end. The best way to do that would be through a brand-new raid boss, with Generation III’s Deoxys being the frontrunner. The fellow Psychic-type Legendary not only has many fans, but it also has four different forms that could make EX raids much more interesting. Currently, trainers that head to an EX raid know it will be Mewtwo they encounter, but if Deoxys was the boss, there would be a little mystery. Will it be the Normal, Attack, Defense, or Speed form at this raid? Overall, it would give a better reason to grind for EX passes, as players will be looking to find high IV versions of four Pokémon and not just one.
Mewtwo’s movement into standard raids could also be a sign that the EX system will be rebranded and restructured. For those out of the loop, the EX system has worked like this: players battle through standard raids, and if lucky enough, an EX pass is granted to them. The pass includes a date, time, and location for the Mewtwo raid, and if players can’t make it, then they’re out of luck.
The feature has been heavily criticized since it first debuted, as it was seen as a glorified lottery system, with some trainers getting two or three EX passes in a row and others never receiving one. Even well-known Pokémon Go YouTuber Reversal threatened to quit the game if Niantic didn’t clarify how to earn a pass. Since then, trainers have learned that certain Gyms have a higher chance of dropping the coveted passes, but even with the community’s efforts to make the system seem less cryptic, many players have put in the effort and never got lucky enough to encounter Mewtwo. Then, even if trainers were able to nab a pass, there was still the issue of being able to attend the scheduled raid time. Many EX raids take place on weekday afternoons when many people are working or are in school. From the confusion around how to earn a pass to the locked down raid times, it’s clear that changes need to be made to keep the system alive. Even small steps would help, such as the September 13th announcement that trainers will be able to share EX passes with one another. It will take time to see how this feature will benefit the community, but for now, it’s a move in the right direction.
Of course, before we see if any of these possible changes are implemented, trainers will have from September 20th until October 23rd to hunt for Mewtwo in raid battles. Whether it’s your first or 50th, the month-long event will be the perfect time to collect Candy and find the best version of Mewtwo out there—at least, the best version currently available.