Weather and status effects have also been a core mechanic of Pokémon since the first two generations. Today, I’m going to focus on status effects. Before I delve into potential abilities that could interact with these elements, I’m going to briefly list what they do in the main series games, as well as my predictions on how they could work in GO.
Poison: Gradually lowers the Pokémon’s HP between turns. There is a more potent version of this status in the form of “badly poisoned” (only inflicted by a few specific moves), which increases the amount of damage the afflicted Pokémon takes between turns. Historically, this was the desirable version of the poisoned status, as it would severely limit the amount of time a Pokémon could remain in battle. It’s also worth noting that Poison and Steel-type Pokémon cannot be poisoned through regular means.
In Pokémon GO, I could foresee Poison-type attacks having a low chance to apply the base version of poison, lowering the afflicted Pokémon’s health by a small amount every several seconds.
Paralysis: Applies a chance for the afflicted Pokémon to be unable to move during any given turn while heavily reducing their speed. Electric-type Pokémon cannot be paralyzed.
In Pokémon GO, I could see this applying one of the two effects that paralysis normally induces. One possibility would be giving the afflicted Pokémon a small chance to fail an attack. Let’s say I’m spamming Dragon Tail with my Dragonite – one of every several Dragon Tails would instead have Dragonite shake a little with electric particles, telling me I’m paralyzed and effectively making me use a Dragon Tail that does 0 damage. This would favor Pokémon with faster attacks, making you think twice about what Pokémon you want to bring in to fight that max leveled Ampharos you see in a gym.
The other possibility for paralysis in GO would simply be to reduce the speed at which the afflicted Pokémon attacks, reflecting on how paralysis reduces speed in the main series games.
Frozen/Sleep: I’ve lumped these two together because their core mechanic is the same – a sleeping or frozen Pokémon is unable to attack. However, they do have nuances: a frozen Pokémon can be unfrozen if hit by a fire-type attack, or if the frozen Pokémon itself uses a specific fire-type attack. Sleeping Pokémon are a bit more stuck, but will, more often than not, wake up faster than a Pokémon would naturally thaw. Ice-type Pokémon cannot be frozen.
In Pokémon GO, the mechanic of being unable to attack for a long period of time seems troublesome. I can foresee the frozen status effect slowing the speed at which the afflicted Pokémon attacks, instead of invalidating it completely, if it were to be included in the game at all. Sleep is a slightly different story: there is potential for charge attacks that don’t do damage, but instead inflict a status effect. If a Pokémon could prevent its enemies from attacking for some random number of seconds (within reason) instead of dealing massive charge move damage, I think that would be OK provided that only a few Pokémon could do it, and that it was actually balanced.
I say this for sleep, but not freeze because in the main series Pokémon games, there is no move that freezes the enemy Pokémon without dealing damage to it. Sleep Powder, Spore, and Hypnosis are a few examples of attacks that put the opposing Pokémon to sleep without inflicting damage – no such move exists for the frozen condition. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t change that in GO.
Burn: Gradually lowers the Pokémon’s HP between turns. The damage dealt by this status was identical to the base version of poison up until the 7th generation of Pokémon games (where its damage was reduced), but since GO is using the 6th generation’s base stats, it’s unknown whether or not this will remain consistent. However, the burn status has always been valuable because it halves the afflicted Pokémon’s attack stat.
In Pokémon GO, I can see this having the same effect. Dealing less damage than poison, but cutting the Pokémon’s attack by half seems like more than a worthy trade-off (although it definitely wouldn’t be halved in GO, reduced by 5-15% seems more likely).
Confuse: Applies a chance for the afflicted Pokémon’s move to fail, while dealing damage to itself at the same time. This status is similar to paralysis – however, the key difference is that confusion wears off after several turns, while paralysis stays on the Pokémon until it’s healed.
In Pokémon GO, I feel like the confused status is likely to mirror the main series games. It’ll give you a small chance to hurt yourself with any given attack, but only last for some number of seconds as opposed to the whole battle. It’s also worth noting that the damage inflicted to your Pokémon by itself is based on its attack stat, and not which move it was attempting to use at the time of failure.
With the exception of confusion, all of these statues follow the Pokémon out of battle, and only sleep and freeze have a chance to wear off during a battle. Since Pokémon GO is big on adding new berries, it’s unlikely we’ll be seeing items such as Burn Heals and Paralyze Heals being dropped from stops. I’m going to assume that the status effects will be cured either at the end of the entire gym battle (at the You Win! or You Lose! screen), or perhaps there will be new stops added to the game akin to Pokémon Centers to heal these pesky conditions. Or perhaps the conditions will be cured when the Pokémon is healed to full HP. Perhaps it won’t be any of these, who knows!
Also, I didn’t cover the more minor status conditions such as being flinched, infatuation, or leech seed because they’re niche and/or apply similar effects to the above conditions. Perhaps later though! I would like to see Venusaur have leech seed as a charge move option – dealing no damage but occasionally healing Venusaur as it Vine Whips away.
Now onto potential abilities that can interact with these status conditions.
Perhaps the most fitting ability that can be implemented in Pokémon GO to interact with status conditions is Static. If a Pokémon comes into contact with a Pokémon who has Static (i.e. attacking it with Bite or Dragon Tail), that Pokémon will have a chance to be paralyzed. The Pokémon who get this ability in the main series games include Raichu, Electabuzz, Electrode, Zapdos, and Ampharos.
Imagine how much defending use this would give to the rare and elusive Ampharos! Suddenly more than a rare dex filler, the potential threat of Ampharos’s Static would cripple unprepared attackers for a long battle ahead. Since Ampharos’s max CP isn’t too high, paralyzing Pokémon before they have to fight the higher CP Dragonites, Blisseys, and Tyranitars would actually put Ampharos’s low max CP to good use!
In the same vein, Nidoqueen, Nidoking, Seadra, and Quilfish have this ability with the poison condition known as Poison Point – any Pokémon who comes in contact with them has a chance to be poisoned. Moreover, Muk has an ability called Poison Touch, which gives it a chance to poison any target it touches with attacks. Aside from steel and poison-types, there are Pokémon who are immune to poison due to the ability, Immunity. Snorlax and Gligar have the potential to carry this ability.
When it comes to burning, the status has enough potential to make otherwise useless gym defenders have a purpose. Rapidash, Magmar, Moltres, and Magcargo all have the potential to carry an ability called Flame Body. Similar to Static and Poison Point, it applies a chance for attacking Pokémon to be burned if they make contact with these Pokémon.
An ability called Effect Spore wraps some of the former abilities into one, applying a small chance for any Pokémon that comes in contact with Vileplume or Parasect to be paralyzed, poisoned, or even fall asleep!
A handful of Pokémon are immune to sleep due to the abilities Vital Spirit and Insomnia. Pokémon in GO with Vital Spirit include Primeape, Electabuzz, Magmar, and the unreleased Delibird. Pokémon with Insomnia include Hypno, Noctowl, Ariados, Murkrow, and funnily enough, Delibird again!
Alakazam and Clefable have an ability called Magic Guard, which prevents them from taking damage from all sources that aren’t direct attacks. This means that being poisoned or burned (or being in harmful weather – more on that tomorrow) won’t whittle away their health, potentially increasing their value if a status-inflicting metagame were to develop.
Some Pokémon also have ways to eliminate status effects from themselves. Starmie, Corsola, Blissey, and Celebi have an ability called Natural Cure, which heals them from any status condition when switching out during a battle, or when the battle ends. This could save your offensive Blissey from losing too much HP from an unexpected status. Both poison and burn deal a percentage of a Pokémon’s max HP, meaning Blissey would definitely be feeling those in the morning!
Other Pokémon will actually hit back with status effects if they have the ability Synchronize. If a Pokémon with this ability is poisoned, burned, or paralyzed, it’ll inflict the same status right back to its opponent. Alakazam, Mew, Xatu, Espeon, and Umbreon may carry this ability.
However, Espeon and Xatu are a bit luckier than the others since they can also possess an ability called Magic Bounce, which reflects any non-damaging moves back to the opponent. Should any potent non-damaging moves be added to Pokémon GO, this ability may prove to be invaluable.
And last, but definitely not least, there exists an ability known as Guts, which significantly increases the attack power of a Pokémon if its inflicted with a status condition (and also negates the damage drop from burn). Notable Pokémon who can carry this ability are Raticate, Machamp, Flareon, and Heracross. After turning your opponent’s status moves against them, imagine how fast Blissey would fall to a Guts-boosted Machamp!