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Pokemon Go raids explained: everything you need to know about the new bosses and battles

Pokemon Go's newest battle feature explained in detail. Go in prepared.


Pokemon Go's much-anticipated raid battles are now live as part of a sweeping set of updates to Pokemon Go including the addition of gym badges, TMs, rare candy, legendary Pokemon and other series staple features.

Many of these features have been highly anticipated, but none so much as Raid Battles - multiplayer battles against AI Pokemon that will let you take on very high level Pokemon for special rewards including items that are all new to Pokemon Go and the chance to catch rare Pokemon or even legendary Pokemon for the first time.

This feature set is the largest ever update to Pokemon Go, and we're really only just scratching the surface of what this feature will eventually involve. We're here to help, however - so let's do just that.

What is a Raid Battle in Pokemon Go?

The more seasoned video game fans among you might have heard the term 'raid battle' before outside of Pokemon Go - the term is typically used around other massive online games such as World of Warcraft to refer to a large-scale boss that multiple players will tackle together. It's very challenging but also very rewarding content, and the type of thing that many players will do over and over again, completing the raid many times in order to grind for the raid's special rewards.

In Pokemon Go, raid battles let you tackle super high-level Pokemon - Pokemon with a CP (Combat Power) into the five figure range or quite possibly even higher. This will take multiple players multiple Pokemon even for easier encounters, though raids come in a variety of formats.

Each Pokemon Go raid is rated between one and five - one are the easiest and will feature weaker Pokemon, albeit super powered-up versions of them, such as a mega-CP Magikarp. Most of the raids you'll see will hover around the 2-4 range, which could range from everything from a beastly Pidgey to a Dragonite. We haven't seen a five-star raid yet, but we strongly suspect this high rank will suggest legendary Pokemoun encounters.

The raid rating represents not just the Pokemon you'll face but also the difficulty. The lower the raid ranking the more easily you should be able to tackle the encounter with less Pokemon and less players hitting it at once.

Pokemon Go raid battles each only last a limited time, and you have to spend a raid ticket to gain access to them - more on that below.


Pokemon Go raid level requirement - what level to raid?

Alas, there is a catch to all this. Players that want to take part in raids will need to be a certain level to get raiding - and it's a level that means you'll have to be a fairly dedicated or longer-time Pokemon Go player to join.

Right now you'll need to be at least Trainer Level 20 in order to take part in raids. This has been lowered twice; during beta, players need to be level 35 to participate in Pokemon GO raids, and shortly after the update launched, they needed to be level 25. Level 20, the new requirement, is much more achievable - but still might be out of reach of some of the more casual Pokemon Go players.

If you're below level 20 you'll still be able to get to grips with a lot of Pokemon Go's new features including the reworked gyms, gym badges and so on, and these will help you to level up quickly.

If you need some help getting yourself up to level 20 quickly, we've got a page full of Pokemon Go EXP grinding tips to help you out.

Raids at Night: can you battle after sunset?

Right now, it looks like Niantic is trying to be a little family-friendly with the Pokemon Go raids system: raid battles are only available between 9am and 9pm in yourt local time. Once the sun sets gyms will always remain in their regular form. Basically, there are no Pokemon Go raids at night.

If you're going out searching for raids at night or if you're out of the house more frequently after sunset, don't waste your time searching for raids - you're only going to see them in the daytime, at least for now. Niantic is aggressive about patching and changing the game, however, so this might well change in time. We'll see.

How to join a Pokemon Go Raid Battle

Okay, so you want to raid. Here's how the system works:

  • The first thing you'll need to look out for is an in-game notification telling you that a raid battle is gearing up to begin nearby. The game is pretty good about using your location and only alerting you to raids that you're within a short walk's distance from - so be sure to keep an eye out for this notification. You can also see upcoming raids in the 'nearby' menu panel.
  • Once the notification pops, track down the gym where the raid is taking place. Regular gym battles will be suspended at this location, and you'll know that's the case because the usual Pokemon Gym leader atop the gym will be replaced with an enormous egg to represent the raid Pokemon.
  • Attached to the egg will be a countdown: this is the time until the egg hatches and you can begin your assault on the raid Pokemon inside.
  • Once the egg hatches the gym becomes a raid proper. Once this happens, you have only one hour to defeat the enormous raid boss Pokemon. If you fail to defeat it inside an hour, the raid will end and the Pokemon will disappear.
  • In order to join the raid you'll need to spend a Raid Pass - more on Raid Passes can be found in detail below.
  • You can battle with up to 20 players in any given group, but you can go in with anything up to that, including solo if it's a weaker-rank raid and you're feeling confident. You can heal up and attack again as much as you like inside the 1 hour limit.

While Pokemon Go Gyms are of course allied by team, the raid battles that take place at Pokemon Gyms are suspended for raids. You can team up with players from any other Pokemon Team, even your rivals, to take down Raid Pokemon.

Don't forget to prepare your Pokemon team for these fights: we have a list of the best moves and movesets, most powerful Pokemon plus details of Pokemon move and type strengths and weaknesses ready to assist.


Raid Passes - how they work, and how to get more

Raids are a free new feature to access, but actual access to raids is heavily gated, and in order to enter a raid you'll need to spend what Pokemon Go refers to as a Raid Pass - a special new item that's limited in the world of Pokemon Go.

Raid tickets / passes will give you access to raid battles and come in two key, different variants - plus a bonus variant that hasn't yet shown up in the game properly:

  • Raid Pass (Free) - the free raid pass can drop once per day from spinning the Pokestop-style photo disc attached to gyms in the latest update. These will only drop if you're the correct level to start raiding as detailed above, and you can only hold one at a time.
  • Premium Raid Pass - this raid pass is purchased from the in-game shop. They cost 100 PokeCoins each, and because you're spending real money on them you can hold as many of them as you like.
  • Legandary Raid Pass - rewarded to players who participate heavily in the raid and gym system, this pass will let players into a special one-off legendary Pokemon battle raid - a boss fight against a legendary creature. Winning will have big rewards such as the chance to catch said Pokemon.

Raid passes are used up regardless of if you win the battle or not, so try not to spend them on losing raid battles.


Pokemon Go raid battle rewards and items

A selection of all-new items are offered as raid battle rewards - and long-time Pokemon series fans will be glad to see many of these favorite items come to Pokemon Go for the first time.

Rare Candy in Pokemon Go

The classic Pokemon item used to level Pokemon up in traditional games returns with a new but similar purpose. Rare candy is one of a few possible raid battle rewards when a battle is won.

Rare candy will act as catch-all candy, working to help evolve any Pokemon you like. The ‘exchange rate’ is 1:1, so 1 Rare Candy could be used on a Pidgey and would count as 1 Pidgey Candy, ideal for leveling up those rare, powerful Pokemon.

Golden Razz Berries

The Golden Razz Berry is basically a powered-up version of the regular Pokemon berries. It'll restore a gym defending Pokemon's motivation bar to 100% regardless of how low it is. Used on a wild Pokemon, it'll boost your chances of catching them by a massive 25%.

Technical Machines / TMs - Fast TM and Charged TM

These items function much as they do in the classic Pokemon games, acting as special items that can teach your Pokemon new moves – ideal for trying to get some of the best moves taught to combat-ready Pokemon.

Technical Machines come in two variants – Fast TMs and Charged TMs – and as we know, Pokemon Go’s moves are all either Fast or Charged in nature. These have a chance to drop as a reward for Raid Battles, but only for trainers over Level 15 for Fast TMs, and Level 25 for Charged TMs. Each Pokemon has a variety of moves they can learn, and the move you get from a TM looks like it will be random.

Premier Ball

A new type of Pokeball to go alongside the Poke, Great and Ultra balls. These are a staple of the main games. In Pokemon Go they have the same performance as regular Pokeballs, but have a cool red-and-white look. Premium indeed.

About the Author

Alex Donaldson avatar

Alex Donaldson

Assistant Editor

Alex started out his career in the games media as an over-eager kid working on fan sites, and now has decades of experience. He's the resident expert on esoteric matters such as Pokemon Go, gaming hardware, and genres like RPGs, fighters, and strategy games. Outside of VG247 he's the co-founder of genre-dedicated website RPG Site. He also collects original arcade machines, Lego, and considers himself a whiskey buff.

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