January 2020 Combat Rebalance Update

A new set of combat rebalance changes has been announced, aimed at improving Trainer Battles balance before GO Battle League launches. The update changes the way how charge moves and switching ques work in Trainer Battles, updates existing moves, brings Flying Press Fighting to Pokémon GO, changes some existing Pokémon move pools and reintroduces select legacy moves for Generation 1 Pokémon.

Niantic has described this change as “one last batch of changes to Trainer Battles to set the stage for an exciting upcoming feature”, which is quite exciting! Let’s dive in!

Updates to the combat system

  • Charged Attacks and switching will now be queued and activated at the end of the current Fast Attack and won’t be overridden by any following Fast Attacks.
  • Certain visual bugs in battles have been fixed.

In essence, you won’t be able to push additional Fast Attacks if a Charge Attack or a Switch has been queued, making Trainer Battles more predictable and less prone to failed Charge Move activations. If you had enough HP and you pressed the Charge Attack button, provided that you still have enough HP after the opposing Fast Move has ended, that Charge Move will fire. Same goes for Switching Pokémon.

Updates to existing attacks in Pokémon GO

There have been updates to the following existing attacks in Pokémon GO.

  • Megahorn Bug damage output has been increased! This should make Pokémon like Absol, Nidoking, Escavalier and Heracross more threatening when using it. For most of them, the changes will not be drastic tho.
  • Volt Switch Electric (Fast Attack) now activates and generates energy more quickly. This change should be beneficial to Raikou, Raichu, Alolan Raichu, Jolteon and Alolan Golem.

Attacks new to Pokémon GO

Flying Press Fighting is coming to Pokémon GO! Niantic hasn’t shared a lot of information about it, but here’s what we currently know from today’s announcement:

  • Certain Pokémon will soon be able to learn attacks that hadn’t yet been seen in Pokémon GO!
  • Flying Press will be a charged Fighting type move.
  • Niantic has shared that “they haven’t figured out which Pokémon is able to learn it yet”, but we do know that two Pokémon can learn it in the core games: Pikachu (event) and Hawlucha (source).

We’re quite intrigued to see what Niantic has in store for Flying Press and which Pokémon will be getting it.

Pokémon that can learn more attacks

The following Pokémon will be able to learn attacks they couldn’t before:

Pokémon Moves
Pokemon GO PluslePlusle Grass Knot Grass
Pokemon GO MinunMinun Grass Knot Grass
Pokemon GO LanturnLanturn Spark Electric
Pokemon GO AmpharosAmpharos Thunder Punch Grass
Pokemon GO MasquerainMasquerain Bubble Beam Water
Pokemon GO VespiquenVespiquen Fury Cutter Bug
Air Slash Flying

The ideas behind these new moves are quite solid, but not game breaking:

  • Plusle and Minun should be more viable against Ground types in the Great League, as they only had access to Electric and Normal moves until now.
  • Spark should improve Lanturn’s meta game significantly, as Spark will help it counter opponents like Azumarill and Altaria. We’re especially keen to see how Azumarill handles this new threat.
  • Ampharos is getting a solid improvement through Thunder Punch, but it’s more geared towards Ultra League in our opinion. Nothing game changing tho.
  • Masquerain should now have access to a Water move which allows him to deal some damage to Fire and Rock types. Again, solid improvement, but not a game changer.
  • Vespiquen is getting a fast Flying type attack which finally matches its Flying type, and Fury Cutter is a solid Bug type move. We don’t expect a change in the meta from this addition.

Returning legacy moves

In addition to everything mentioned above, select Kanto Pokémon will be able to learn moves they originally had back in 2016:

Pokémon Moves
Pokemon GO RaichuRaichu Thunder Shock Electric
Pokemon GO MagnetonMagneton Thunder Shock Electric
Discharge Electric
Pokemon GO VenomothVenomoth Poison Fang Poison
Pokemon GO HaunterHaunter Shadow Ball Ghost
Pokemon GO HypnoHypno Shadow Ball Ghost

All of these returning moves are a welcomed addition, especially Haunter’s Shadow Ball and Magneton’s Discharge. Raichu already has a pretty complex move pool, but Thunder Shock is a good improvement over Spark and Volt Switch. And Venomoth could be a real Fairy destroyer with Poison Fang, right? Nope. Just nope.

Parting words

The changes listed above are exciting, but what’s even more exciting is the fact that GO Battle League is inching closer and closer. The new 0.165.0 APK teardown revealed more information about the upcoming features, and this balance update serves as a strong reminder that Niantic is getting serious about Trainer Battles.

Stay tuned for updates!