The Best Pokémon to look out for at New York GO Fest 2023

Good day, Pokémon Trainers! Pokémon GO Fest season is upon us and it promises to be larger and more exciting than ever before! But this brings up the ever-popular question,

What are the best Pokémon to catch?

Well, not to worry fellow trainer, I’m here to help narrow the field! But before we get to that it’s worth noting that this guide only accounts for those that we know for sure will be available during the New York GO Fest period according to the information shared by Niantic.

Also worth noting is that we have a huge preparation guide ready that you might want to check whether this is your first GO Fest or if you just want to be completely prepared to face GO Fest 2023.

With that out of the way, Which Pokémon are truly worth getting? 

Let’s begin and find out!

Prehistoric Volcano

Do take note that New York GO Fest will be divided into two experiences- the park experience and the city experience. The park experience will have you exploring different themed habitats where specific Pokémon will spawn at Randall’s Island Park. Whereas in the city experience, you will be able to find every Pokémon mentioned in each habitat along with event-exclusive raid encounters!

I will categorize the Pokémon in this guide based on the habitats available in the park experience. But do keep in mind that you can find all of these in the city experience as well. With that being said, let’s start off with Pokémon found in the first habitat, the prehistoric volcano:



The prehistoric volcano habitat graces us with not one, but two Dragon type Pokémon that can be used in all three main PvP formats. The first of the two Pokémon in this equation, Dratini. Dratini is great because there’s something unique that all three forms in its evolutionary line can accomplish.

In their shadow form, Dragonair and Dragonite are both very decent picks in the Great League.  Why you would want one over the other depends on your team composition and personal use case. Dragonite works best as a pure Dragon, as you would want to partner up its fast-move Dragon Breath with the spammy Dragon Claw. Whereas Dragonair has better neutral coverage Body Slam and Aqua Tail to go with the same Dragon Breath. Shadow Dragonite is also a decent Pokémon for the Ultra League, as it can win against some of the meta staples such as Swampert, Scrafty, and Obstagoon. And finally, Shadow Dratini itself is pretty great for 500 CP Little Cup metas when they are available.

This doesn’t mean you should skimp on catching regular, non-shadow Dratinis during GO Fest, however. Not only because you can catch them to get candies as Dratini is a decently rare Pokémon. But also because, Dragonite, just in its base form, is one of the best Pokémon for the Master League and arguably, the best non-legendary Pokémon in that league thanks to its impressive total stats. So as far as wild Pokémon in this habitat goes, Dratini is definitely one you don’t want to miss!



The second Dragon to appear in this habitat, and by no means any less impressive, its Axew! This little dragon has gotten a lot of love recently thanks to its recent community day, where its evolved form Haxorus finally got Breaking Swipe. Haxorus is not a particularly defensive Pokémon and therefore had some trouble fitting in with the bulk-focused Pokémon GO PvP meta. But as Breaking Swipe is a charged attack that is capable of decreasing the enemy Pokémon’s attack, all that has changed.

Thanks to its Fighting type fast move, Counter, Haxorus can confidently beat just about every bulky Steel,Ground, and Rock types that aren’t also part Fairy in the Great League. It’s also a dragon that can show decent versatility. With one slot filled by Breaking Swipe, Haxorus is left with another charged move slot to fill up as it wishes. You could go for the equally spammy Water type surf, or Dark type Night Slash. Or you could ignore both and go with the heavy-hitting Earthquake. Even in terms of fast moves, you could opt out of Counter, in exchange for the STAB Dragon Tail if you think that’s the move you need.

While not as impressive in the Ultra League, Haxorus can still be used as a spice pick even here. As it can deal with the various steel types that run rampant in this meta, along with the ever-present Obstagoon. Finally, Haxorus is also a solid pick for the Master League and especially in the Master League Premiere format where other, stronger legendary dragons aren’t there to take its place. Overall, Haxorus is a super solid and super fun Pokémon to use for PvP, though do bear in mind that it’s rather reliant on its legacy move Breaking Swipe.



As the name suggests, the prehistoric volcano is home to many of Pokémon GOs fossil Pokémon. Some of the best of these are represented by the Sinnoh fossil Pokémon, starting with-Cranidos! While by no means useful for PvP by any stretch of the word, Cranidos’s evolved form Rampardos has its important use.  And that is thanks to its use as one of the best raid attackers. 

Thanks to its impressive 260.4 Attack stat, Rampardos can hit those raid Pokémon, and it can hit them hard! Rampardos boasts perhaps the strongest Rock type raiding potential safe for mega Pokémon available in the game. And consider some of the biggest legendaries that are often available in raids: Ho-oh, Lugia, the three original bird legendaries, and the upcoming Rayquaza. See something in common? They are all part Flying types, which means Rock types such as Rampardos are a must-have to take them down. So if you’re interested at all in raiding, definitely consider catching a lot of Cranidoses in New York GO Fest!



This is the other Sinnoh fossil Pokémon. And as their design might already tell you, these two Pokémon could not be more different from each other. If Rampardos is a solid raid attacker thanks to its impressive attack stat, Bastiodon, Shieldon’s evolution is all about bulk!

And you can make full use of its bulk in PvP in the Open Great League. Where Bastion stands as an impenetrable wall against some of the meta staples. It can win against just about every Flying type including the likes of Noctowl and Altaria thanks to its RockSteel typing. And even the Pokémon it can’t defeat, Bastiodon’s sheer defense means it can hang around long enough to wear out the opponent trainer’s resources. Making Bastiodon one of the best Pokémon to have in the format.

Some caveats though, Bastiodon is really only good for the great league. Though it excels in that league. But even in the great league format, it risks being directly outclassed by the upcoming Pokémon Carbink, which feels the same role as Bastiodon. Nevertheless, Bastiodon still remains one of the better Pokémon in the format and is definitely worth your time if you’re willing to spare the time and Pokéballs.


The last fossil Pokémon on this list is the original RockFlying dinosaur itself, Aerodactyl! While Aerodactyl isn’t a particularly useful Pokémon for PvP, it has a mega form which may as well be the best Rock type raid attacker available right now. Not only that, the Aerodactyl spawning in the wild will be a unique costumed Aerodactyl that will only be available for the New York GO Fest. Making this Aerodactyl an impressive collector’s item as well!



The last Pokémon that’s worth mentioning in this habitat. While Slugma’s evolved form Magcargo isn’t a particularly useful Pokémon, Slugma itself is useful for some Little Cup metas thanks to its access to Rock type coverage moves.

Poison Swamp

Various Poison-type Pokémon inhabit this habitat. While also including:



Starting off with a more controversial pick this time around. As it stands right now, Pawniard and its evolution Bisharp doesn’t have much play anywhere. However, its final evolution Kingambit hasn’t been added to Pokémon GO yet as it is a generation 9 Pokémon. When Pokémon from Paldea are added to Pokémon GO and Kingambit makes his royal appearance, this Pokémon just might become a lot more useful. As such, it may be worth it to have a few good Pawniards lying around in your pocket.

Oh, The Toxicity!

Now here’s the thing. Despite being the main counter for the omnipresent Fairy types, most Poison type Pokémon don’t reach the top of the PvP meta for one reason or another. And in this poison-type-filled habitat, only these handful of Pokémon are somewhat useful. So let’s get them out of the way together, so you can decide if any of them are worth your time.


If were to strictly categorize these Pokémon in terms of competitive viability, it would have to be something like Zubat > Skorupi > Skrelp > Tentacool. While I would personally relegate these Pokémon to more limited metas, if you wanted to use any of these Pokémon for the Open Great League, it would have to be Zubat. As Zubat’s evolved form, Golbat, much like a lot of other flyers can do pretty well against some of the metas more prominent Pokémon. Though it does occasionally need a shield advantage to do so, and the shadow variant definitely does perform better. Its final form, Crobat however doesn’t have much use in any particular leagues.


Drapion, Skorupi’s evolved form is the second closest contender for being “almost viable for the Open Great League“. This is thanks to its wide coverage of charge attacks including Aqua Tail, Crunch, and Fell Stinger. This is once again a case of a Pokémon’s shadow variant being better than its default form. And for Drapion, that margin is quite high. Nevertheless, GO Fest can be a way to get more candy for your shadow variant. But ignoring all that Drapion does have a leg up over Golbat in that it’s viable for Ultra League as well.


As for Skrelp, while its evolved form Dragalge can be a potential spice pick for the Great League. That’s really not where it shines. Instead, Skrelp itself can be used as a decent option for some limited Little Cup metas.


Finally, Tentacool. To be honest, its evolved form Tentacruel isn’t a particularly good Pokémon. To make matters worse, it’s directly outclassed by the far better Toxapex as a WaterPoison type for the Great League. Still, somehow some people have managed to get some use out of it in some limited great league metas, so I thought it should at least be worth the mention.

Cursed Treasures

This habitat is home to various types of Pokémon with the primary theme being focused on Ghost and Steel types. Stick around because there are quite a few treasures in here. Including:



Now Eevee itself isn’t a particularly uncommon Pokémon. However, Eevee has a whopping eight evolutions, all of which you need for a platinum medal. So you probably want as much candy you can get for this Pokémon as you can. Especially considering at least one of its evolutionary forms, Umbreon is one of the best Pokémon available for PvP. But why is that?

Well, Umbreon is a Dark type, which means it only has a handful of weaknesses to worry about. Add to that its impressive bulk, and you have one of the best safe swaps for the Great League and the Ultra League. And then further add to that the fact that Umbreon runs the fast attack Snarl, one of the fastest energy generating move around. And ya, you can see why this Pokémon is so great yourself.

This isn’t to say Umbreon is the only good evolution for Eevee. While Umbreon is the best choice overall among the eight, others do have their own niche. The Fairy type Sylveon can be a decent Pokémon for the Master Premiere League. And the pure Water type Vaporeon can be useful for some limited Great League and Ultra League metas.



I feel as though it’s only fair to talk about Sableye next. As much like Umbreon, Sableye is a bulky Dark type Pokémon. Unlike Umbreon however, Sableye is only really viable for the Great League. But this doesn’t matter to Sableye at all because there is no other Pokémon that does Sableye’s job better.

Why is that? Well, unlike Umbreon, Sableye is also part Ghost type and can learn the fast attack Shadow Claw. This means that Sableye only has one singular weakness to Fairy. And it can deal with the Great League’s most persistent threat, Medicham. This makes Sableye the uncontested best safe swap for the great league!

It should be noted however that Sableye generally tends to run the charged attack Return. It’s worth mentioning because return can only be learned by a purified shadow Sableye. This doesn’t mean Sableye absolutely needs Return to work, however. And even if you want to build a Sableye with it, Sableye requires XL candies to be viable for the Great League. So you’re going to need a lot of Sableye candies to build one and it isn’t exactly the most common Pokémon. So definitely try to catch as many Sableye as possible to build one for PvP!



Don’t let the easy-going demeanor of this big fella fool you, Snorlax deserves its place with the legends!

And I mean that quite literally as well. This mono Normal type Pokémon wins against a key legendary Pokémon in all three of the main go battle league formats. It can win against Registeel in an even shield scenario in the Great League, can defeat the omnipresent Cresselia in the Ultra League, and can even win against the ever-threatening Dialga in the Master League. And this is ignoring the fact that it can beat both versions of Giratina in the ultra and master leagues as it resists Ghost type attacks and then punishes back with its own ghost-type fast attack lick.



The last Pokémon on the list for this habitat, its ya boy Yamask! Cofagrigus, Yamask’s evolution is a solid mono Ghost type for the Great League and Ultra League. With its usage bolstered by this season’s nerf to Trevanent. Cofagrigus can pick up some of Trevenant’s job owing to its sizable bulk and Ghost typing. This means Cofagrigus can deal with Medicham and prevalent Psychic types like Cresselia. Or at the very least apply strong shield pressure with its Shadow Claw, Shadow Ball, and Dark Pulse combination. Definitely a Pokémon worth getting in my humble opinion.

Athletic Field

The last habitat for New York GO Fest, the Athletic Field is home to many Fighting types. Including:

Hitmon 3:

Behold, these three Pokémon are not bald, not men, and definitely not trained assassins. Yet what these three Hitmons are are decent, albeit a bit bland Pokémon to be used for PvP. This is all in terms of the Great League of course. Because none of these three truly have the stats to do anything in the higher CP formats. 

As for which one of these three is the best, I have to give a leg up to Hitmontop. As access to Counter along with two heavy-hitting charged attacks in Close Combat and Stone Edge makes it a decent pick. You can definitely speak in favor of Hitmonchan as well, especially in its shadow variant. Since it can make up for Hitmontop’s greater flexibility with raw damage with Counter and its various Punch moves. Finally, Hitmonlee. It falls a bit behind due to the lack of Counter, potentially the best fast attack in the game. However, Double Kick is still decent, so it’s not completely unusable.

A few things are worth noting. To start, the presence of Medicham makes other Fighting types fall behind in usage in the Open Great League. As such, you will probably want to relegate these Pokémon to more limited metas where Medicham isn’t allowed to enter. If you do absolutely want to try one of these in Open Great League, stick to Hitmontop, the others are too fragile. Finally, from my experience these Pokémon aren’t too uncommon, so I’ll leave it to you to decide if they are worth your time during GO Fest. Bonus mention to Makuhita, another similar common Fighting type that can be found during GO Fest.



A bit of a wild card for this habitat. Unlike the previously mentioned fighting types, Zangoose doesn’t spawn in the North American continent. As such it is a rare Normal type Pokémon that acts as anything but. Typically running Shadow Claw with Night Slash and Close Combat it feels almost like a pseudo-dark type Pokémon of sorts. It is a very attack-weighted Pokémon so it shouldn’t work for PvP in theory. Yet I have definitely seen it be used in the Great League and Ultra League as a surprise save swap. So you could consider catching a few, as Zangoose isn’t a Pokémon you will find near New York very often.



For this habitat, I decided to save the best for last. If you look at Lucario’s typing, you can see why it’s special. Fighting and Steel, two of the most potent types in all of Pokémon! It brings a lot of other benefits along with this solid typing as well. It provides fast-move pressure with Counter, it spams with Power-up Punch and even has a handful of nuke moves available to it as well. All in all, even if it’s a lot more fragile than Medicham, it is still a solid Pokémon for the Great League and the Ultra League. And even more so in limited metas where it can absolutely dominate the competition!

Lucario has only been available so far from hatching Riolus from eggs and then evolving them. So it has been a rare and difficult Pokémon to build with competitive IVs. With New York GO Fest this all changes, so definitely be on the lookout for a few wild Lucarios!

Raid Encounters

This concludes our wild encounter segment. But continue to stick around, because the city experience brings the return of three well-beloved raid legendaries. Along with an exciting new encounter! 

Five-Star Raids

New York Go Fest will be home to three five-star raids. And its worth noting that these raids will be available globally throughout August as well. Starting off with:



One of the best, if not the best Pokémon for the Ultra League, Cresselia has now found herself a place in the Great League as well thanks to the absence of Trevenant to threaten her lunar glory. What makes Cresselia so great is a combination of extreme bulk, matched with the fast energy-generating Psycho Cut. A combination of these two things insure Cresselia is on the battlefield for a long time, and threatening the opponent’s shields. Definitely consider doing a few raids and trading Cresselias around with your friends to get some PvP-compatible Cresselias.

Xerneas and Yveltal

The box legendary duo from the mainline Pokémon X and Y games are back! And although it hasn’t been directly stated, as both Pokémon are slated to get their signature moves this month of August, it’s very likely they will be available during GO Fest as well. So, let’s get to analyzing whether these Pokémon are worth it, shall we?

Starting with the Fairy type Xerneas. Xerneas is slated to get its signature fast move, Geomancy. While this probably won’t make Xerneas a must-have meta-breaker or anything like that, it is still a direct upgrade. This means an already decent pick for the Master League is just about to get better. As for the DarkFlying Yveltal, while its signature charge attack Oblivion Wing seems like a side grade at best, it’s already a decent Pokémon for the Master League and definitely no less worth your time. These new moves also make both Xerneas and Yveltal improve as Raid Attackers as well.

So as you can see, you can go for either Pokémon based on personal preference if you’re planning to build a team for the Master League.

Mega Raids

Mega Rayquaza

Rayquaza (Mega)

The only confirmed mega raid for this event, yet no less exciting. As Mega Rayquaza is a completely new Mega Pokémon to grace Pokémon GO! Not only that, if the prior released Primal Groudon and Kyogre are any indication then Mega Rayquaza stands to be one of the strongest Pokémon that will be available in Pokémon GO for a long while.

Collector’s Items

If more than PvP or raid viability, you’re more interested in that which is truly rare and exclusive, I have you covered as well. Even ignoring the already mentioned raid Pokémon, and rare shinies such as Lucario and Noibat, there will be some event-exclusive including:

This version of Pikachu will be exclusive to the in-person GO Fests this year, and will also be available as a shiny. This Pikachu will spawn in every habitat, so don’t miss your chance to catch this exclusive shiny!

All habitats will also spawn specific Unown with their shiny forms also being available. This includes the second appearance of Unown ! after the GO Fests in London and Osaka. If you’ve taken the daunting challenge of catching every shiny Unowns you definitely don’t want to miss this chance!

Still want more? Here are the Pokémon that will make their first shiny appearance during New York GO Fest:


Pokémon GO Fest 2023 is shaping up to be more promising than ever before with many exciting Pokémon to collect! Hopefully, I have helped you narrow down which Pokémon you want to focus on during this event. And if you want a deeper dive for the Pokémon that will be worth catching for PvP, we will have a PvP Field Guide as well. Stay safe and have fun out there. I wish you all an amazing GO Fest 2023!

Goodbye for now, Pokémon trainers. Priom-out!

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Pokémon fan since as early as object permanence allows. Me and my Pokébuddy, PoppyGO are here to hopefully help you with all of Pokémon GO's going-ons!

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