Abilities have been present in Pokémon games since the 3rd generation, and continue to introduce tons of game play elements that go beyond the basic stats and attacks.

From simply powering up moves of a specific type, to completely altering forms of Pokémon, abilities have near infinite potential to further vary our Pokémon.

As it stands now, the gym game is very simple. Stemming from the original Pokémon games, some of the simplest abilities come from each and every starter – and are exclusive to them.

How abilities work in core games

Overgrow, Blaze, and Torrent increase the power of grass, fire and water moves respectively by 50% when the Pokémon is below a third of its health. Suddenly, that Venusaur you’ve been shredding multiple Vaporeons with got a burst of strength to power through the gym’s last defending Pokémon!

However, due to Pokemon GO’s simplified nature, the boost given by these abilities would likely have to be toned down to an increase of 10-20%, similar to how super effective moves only deal 25% of extra damage in GO (as opposed to 2x in the main series games).

The popular original Eeveelutions – being Vaporeon, Flareon, and Jolteon – also have thematic abilities from the main series games that can be implemented into GO.

They possess abilities called Water Absorb, Volt Absorb, and Flash Fire respectively, making them immune to their own typing! Full immunity isn’t present in GO, so these abilities could simply further reduce the damage these Pokémon take from their own type.

Examples of abilities

The amount of small damage-altering abilities are fruitful. To list off a few more examples:

  • Nidoqueen and Nidoking possess an ability called Rivalry, making them deal more damage to Pokémon of opposite genders.
  • Snorlax has Thick Fat, reducing the damage it receives from fire and ice-type attacks.
  • Beedrill, Scizor and several other bug-types have Swarm, which boosts the power of their bug-type attacks when they’re below a third of their HP (seems like it would be crazy good with Scizor’s Fury Cutter!).
  • Golem, Skarmory, Steelix, Magneton, Forretress, Shuckle, and Donphan have Sturdy, making them immune to being knocked out in one hit (obviously this wouldn’t apply to GO, but here’s my thinking: perhaps this ability could prevent them from being knocked out with a charge attack?).

Moreover, Pokémon can have one of either two or three different abilities, further differentiating them from others of their species. And while a couple of light damage-altering passives would be unlikely to shake up the meta as much as we’d like, it’s important to start somewhere. But there is so so so much more to abilities than what I’ve presented here, and that potential will only evolve with the game.

To make this a relatively short start, I’ll be writing about abilities that could interact with future changes that we can expect to see sometime in GO’s future, such as weather and status effects, tomorrow night!


Written by ElectroBlade on the GO Hub forum (link). To join the invite only GO Hub forum, follow us on Twitter and participate in invite giveaways.

  • MasterGreco

    This sounds really cool, I completely forgot about abilities until reading this article. Can’t wait to read the full write-up!

  • Sam Burton

    All of this is irrelevant unless they fix the current GPS spoofer infestation crisis. Yes I’m calling it a crisis, and with good reason, am I being melodramatic, perhaps….it’s only a game you may say, but this game encourages me to walk. That’s why I started playing. This is true for many pogo players. Everyone knows that gyms are the end game, and most know the current gym meta makes those 7 highest CP mons pretty much dictate the current gyms structure. Because of this, most competitive players have spent a lot of time and effort nurturing these specific mons to their max potential. Not really being able to use them as you should because all the gyms in your area are lvl 10 spoofer gyms, is detrimental to us, the players and to the game. There may come a point where people will just start to put the game down, or resort to having to catch pokemon to complete the dex, which doesn’t have that much appeal to be honest.

    I think instead of writing hypothetical articles like this for the sake of clicks you should be creating a petition to Niantic to take action, pledging to their userbase that they will find a way to end this once and for all, and then follow through on it. now that may get you record clicks.

    • Raymond Bui

      Thanks heaps! Sam
      You spoke for lots of us!
      We should show Niantic that whether it is a game or not, cheating should not be encouraged or ignored!

      • Rishi Tiwari

        I agree they need to publicly address the issue!

  • raichu DL

    the closer GO’s battle system can get to that of the main series, the better.
    abilities are mandatory at this point. gen III is when the series started doing pokemon themed or heavily built on a specific ability. in a world without abilities, some of those pokemon would either be bottom-barrel useless (shedinja) or be an abusable overpowered menace (slaking).

  • Travis Dunbar

    Just a point: Rivalry makes you deal more to the SAME gender, not opposite and less to the opposite gender (genderless being unaffected, reasonably).

    • ElectroBlade

      Good catch, serves me right for operating out of memory lol. Apologies for the mistake.

  • James Gormley

    I think sturdy would give them more hp then normal non-sturdy pokemon maybe like +-10-20% hp or something like that. I cant see the abilities happening but it very good idea imo ElectroBlade.

  • Dr. Pavel

    The Eeveelution abilities go beyond just an immunity, Jolteon and Vaporeon regain HP when hit with moves of their own type and Flareon’s Fire-type moves get stronger when hit with its type