If you have been neglecting the Pokémon GO app since the hype died down, this weekend might be a good time to pick it up again, as Niantic is rolling out a set of updates to revamp the multiplayer and battling experience. Gyms have been disabled for several days for these updates, but now they're reopening with the new features. More enhancements are set to come out over the summer, so that every Trainer can take part in all upcoming features such as Raid Battles, Gym Badges, and more!
The latest version being rolled out as of June 20, 2017 is 0.67.1 for Android and 1.37.1 for iOS. As ever with global updates, it is likely that some locations may be a bit behind some others so check if you have the latest patch ( with notes available here).
The previous Gym Levels and Prestige system is going away; now Pokémon assigned to Gyms will have a new motivation system to keep them in shape. Heart meters deplete over time or as the little creatures are defeated in battle, which also decreases their CP temporarily. Trainers can feed Berries to Pokémon on their Gym's team to restore motivation and keep them in the running (Pokémon with drained motivation return to their Trainers).
To go along with this update, Gyms will now only allow six unique Pokémon (so say goodbye to Gyarados-filled rosters), and they will be battled in the order they were assigned to the Gym—no more weakest-first battles either.
Another new feature to arrive is the opportunity to win bonus items at friendly Gyms by spinning the Photo Disc just like at PokéStops. These three new ways of interacting at Gyms neatly lead onto the next addition: Gym Badges. Earned by contributing to a Gym's success, these are meant to "serve as mementos of your Pokémon GO adventures" but may also be upgraded for better rewards.
"You'll be able to level up your Badges by battling, giving Berries to the Pokémon in the Gym and spinning the Gym's Photo Disc. You can earn the opportunity to receive bonus items and increased rewards from Gyms by raising the level of your Gym Badge." — Niantic
Lastly, the new Raid Battle feature will allow cooperative gameplay to defeat a Raid Boss—an extremely powerful Pokémon which may take up to twenty Trainers to defeat and possibly capture. This feature is starting in beta and will only available to certain players at limited locations to begin with, according to Niantic. To participate, players will need a Raid Pass which can be obtained daily by visiting a Gym or bought from the in-game shop. A large Egg descending over a Gym will start the countdown to a Raid, with the goal being to defeat the Raid Boss within the five-minute limit.
Successful battles will give you a "chance to catch an extra powerful Pokémon of your own!" Players will also receive Rare Candies (turns into Pokémon candy of the type you use it on), Golden Razz Berries (fully recover motivation, or makes it easier to catch wild Pokémon), and two new Technical Machines: Fast and Charged. TMs will permanently teach a Pokémon a new Fast Attack or Charged Attack.
The Pokémon GO team says that they "can't wait to see you outside battling at your local Gyms!" and invite players to follow their social media channels (such as their Twitter or Facebook accounts) for updates on "when you'll be able to start battling in raids."
Are these the changes we've been waiting for? Will this be the update that brings a new summer craze that unites casual players to hardened fans alike? What do you think of the new features? Let us know in the comments below, and enjoy the picture gallery as we wait for the update.