Ultra Beasts PvE Preliminary Analysis and Potential Movesets

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Trainers, Niantic just teased Ultra Beasts coming to Pokémon GO! Ultra Beasts are powerful Pokémon coming from different dimensions, and their stats are usually pretty interesting in the main series games. But how do these stats translate to Pokémon GO? Let’s find out!

Ultra Beast stats in Pokémon GO

Nihilego RockPoison 249 210 240 4465
Buzzwole BugFighting 236 196 216 3912
Pheromosa BugFighting 316 85 174 3213
Xurkitree Electric 330 144 195 4451
Celesteela SteelFlying 207 199 219 3507
Kartana GrassSteel 323 182 139 4156
Guzzlord Dark Dragon 188 99 440 3264
Poipole Poison 145 133 167 1854
Naganadel Poison Dragon 263 159 177 3587
Stakataka Rock Steel 213 298 156 3724
Blacephalon Fire Ghost 315 148 142 3727

As you can probably tell from the stats above, some of these Pokémon have unreal potential in Pokémon GO, should they survive Niantic’s moveset roulette. 

In the main series games, Pokémon like Kartana are considered glass cannons. If you aren’t familiar with the main series games mechanics, Pokémon have 6 stats instead of 3 (HP, Attack, Defense, Special Attack, Special Defense and Speed). However, Pokémon GO isn’t as complex and doesn’t use the physical/special stat split, and kinda “mixes” them together by using a formula described in this article.

Bottom line is that Pokémon with unbalanced defensive stats such as Kartana (great defense but absolutely terrible special defense) really benefit from the way Pokémon GO computes the in-game stats. Pokémon with balanced stats in the main series games on the other hand are usually not as good in Pokémon GO PvE.

From the list above, you can probably see that Pokémon like Kartana and Xurkitree have the potential to shake up the meta from day 1, as long as they are blessed with a decent moveset.

Potential Movesets: Zeroes or Heroes?

Pokémon need to have both a great moveset and great stats in order to succeed in Pokémon GO. And that’s the main point of this analysis. We know the stats but which moves would actually make the Ultra Beasts meta? Let’s dive right into it.

Remember that the analysis in this article only focuses on PvE. There will be a different article focusing on the PvP analysis, so if that’s what you want to read please stay tuned!


Nihilego RockPoison

Nihilego’s moveset is the only one available in the GAME_MASTER file as of now. With Acid and Sludge Bomb, Nihilego will become the #1 non-mega poison type attacker in the game, surpassing Roserade but failing to surpass Mega Beedrill and the menacing Eternamax Eternatus (if it ever gets released in PoGO). Poison Jab would’ve made it a little bit better but the difference wouldn’t have been that significant, at least in PvE.

Moveset according to the GAME_MASTER file:

  • Fast moves: Acid, Pound
  • Charge moves: Power Gem, Rock Slide, Sludge Bomb, Gunk Shot


Buzzwole BugFighting

Buzzwole can learn Counter and Dynamic Punch in the main series games. Unfortunately, it won’t be able to learn any bug-type fast move in the game based off its movepool in the main series games, so let’s focus on its fighting type moveset for now.

If Buzzwole doesn’t get Counter, it’s over. And basically, if a fighting Pokémon wants to succeed in PvE, the only move you can pair up with Counter is Dynamic Punch. Aura Sphere is an even better move though, but not many Pokémon are able to learn it.

Alright, let’s consider the best case scenario: Counter + Dynamic Punch, where does Buzzwole land in the current metagame? Actually, it’d be a pretty decent fighting type attacker, kinda in between non-shadow Machamp and Conkeldurr but significantly worse than shadow Machamp and the future fighting type megas such as Mega Lucario.

All in all, not a bad Pokémon. But far from shaking up the meta.

Ideal moveset:

  • Fast move: Counter
  • Charge move: Dynamic Punch


Pheromosa BugFighting

Pheromosa has an ridiculous attack stat (Mewtwo’s is 300, as a reference) but its defense stat arguably makes it unusable. In fact, Pokémon like Surskit and Timburr have a greater DEF stat.

Starting off with its viability as a fighting type attacker, Pheromosa doesn’t learn any of the top-tier fighting type moves in Pokémon GO, at least from the ones available in the game as of now. Its ideal moveset would probably be Low Kick and Focus Blast or Close Combat, so definitely not great. In terms of performance, it’d be a worse Hariyama, so nothing to be excited about.

As a bug type attacker, its best potential moveset would be Bug Bite and Bug Buzz. With that moveset, Pheromosa would instantly become the #1 non-mega bug type attacker in the game, even surpassing BB/BB Volcarona and some mega Pokémon such as Mega Beedrill, but still trailing behind the unreleased Mega Heracross and Mega Pinsir. However, Pheromosa’s lack of bulk might make it unusable in some scenarios so its performance is not always gonna be that good as it seems on paper. If you can’t even survive long enough to fire off a couple of charge moves and you need to keep relobbying, is it really worth spending your dust to build a Pheromosa army?

Ideal moveset:

  • Fast moves: Bug Bite
  • Charge moves: Bug Buzz


Xurkitree Electric

As you can probably tell from the stats shown in the table above, Xurkitree is one of these Pokémon worth considering. Xurkitree’s attack stat is one of the highest in the entire game, and although it isn’t the bulkiest Pokémon, it’s not really the ultimate unusable glass cannon you predicted it to be.

Xurkitree can learn so many electric type moves in the main series games that its performance in Pokémon GO really depends on what moves Niantic decides to give it. So… which moves will make it meta and which ones won’t?

Potential fast moves include Thunder Shock, Spark, Volt Switch and Charge Beam. In the charge moves department, Xurkitree could learn Wild Charge, Thunderbolt, Discharge, Thunder, Zap Cannon and Thunder Punch.

The best case scenario would be Thunder Shock + Wild Charge. Volt Switch or Spark over Thunder Shock wouldn’t be too bad either, so the main focus is what charge moves it will get. Wild Charge would be a dream scenario and make it #1 electric type Pokémon right off the bat (even surpassing megas and shadows, which is incredible), but Thunderbolt would also make it claim that spot regardless of what fast move it gets.

The other charge moves though… would be really disappointing. Not because Xurkitree will be bad, but because it’ll just feel like a deliberate nerf to a very exciting Pokémon. Zap Cannon Xurkitree could be a Zekrom-tier electric type attacker (which is also not bad, all things considered), but Thunder and Thunder Punch could bring it down to a Raikou-tier, which is not that bad, but really underwhelming when considering Xurkitree’s massive potential.

Ideal moveset:

  • Fast moves: Thunder Shock (Spark and Volt Switch would also be ok-ish, pls no Charge Beam)
  • Charge moves: Wild Charge


Celesteela SteelFlying

Celesteela is not the kind of Pokémon bound to suceed in PvE. It can learn Air Slash and Fly, but that’s a BB Staraptor/Unfeazant – tier at best. Skip this one if you’re only interested in PvE.

Ideal moveset (don’t use it):

  • Fast moves: Air Slash (kinda ironic)
  • Charge moves: Fly


Kartana GrassSteel

Xurkitree is not the only Pokémon with amazing potential and capable of dethroning the current megas. Kartana is able to learn Razor Leaf and Leaf Blade in the main series games, and it would shoot it straight to the top of the grass-type DPS/TDO charts. RL/LB Kartana would instantly become the #1 non-mega grass type attacker, surpassing the mythical Pokémon Zarude, and going toe to toe with Mega Venusaur.

Once Mega Sceptile is released though, it’s game over. Kartana does have a very similar stat spread to Mega Sceptile, although Mega Sceptile is a bit more bulky and will have access to Frenzy Plant, which is the better charge move. But that doesn’t mean Kartana will be rendered useless by any means, as it will still be the #1 non-mega grass type attacker after all. No mega energy? No problem.

I can see Niantic not giving it Razor Leaf and opting for Fury Cutter instead. That wouldn’t be too bad, but definitely not ideal. It’d almost have the same damage output, so nothing worth worrying too much about.

Ideal moveset:

  • Fast moves: Razor Leaf
  • Charge moves: Leaf Blade


Guzzlord DarkDragon

Guzzlord is unfortunately another Pokémon not suited for PvE gameplay. There are plenty of better dark and dragon type Pokémon, so if you’re only interested in PvE you should definitely consider spending your dust elsewhere.

Ideal moveset (don’t use it):

  • Fast moves: Snarl, Dragon Tail
  • Charge moves: Dark Pulse, Outrage


Poipole Poison

Poipole’s another one to skip for PvE purposes, as it’s the unevolved form of Naganadel. Everything Poipole does, Naganadel does it better.


Naganadel PoisonDragon

Naganadel will also outclass Roserade as a poison type attacker if it gets access to its best potential moveset: Poison Jab/Acid + Sludge Bomb. But if you compare Naganadel’s stat spread to Nihilego’s, you’ll soon realise that Nihilego is a better investment.

It’s not a bad Pokémon per se, but unfortunately it will probably be outclassed before it’s even released.

Ideal moveset:

  • Fast moves: Poison Jab (Acid would also be fine)
  • Charge moves: Sludge Bomb


Stakataka RockSteel

Stakataka has some fierce competition both as a rock type attacker and as a steel type attacker. Unfortunately for the fortress Pokémon, its stat spread and potential movesets won’t make it shine in the current meta, at least in PvE.

It’s probably not even worth considering as a viable option but if you’re really interested to know a bit more about its place in the PvE meta, it’d be a Gigalith-tier rock type attacker, as long as it gets Rock Throw + Rock Slide.

Ideal moveset:

  • Fast moves: Rock Throw/Smack Down
  • Charge moves: Rock Slide


Blacephalon FireGhost

Blacephalon can learn a plethora of different moves in the main series games. Incinerate, Fire Spin, Ember, Shadow Claw, Fire Punch, Fire Blast, Flamethrower, Overheat, Shadow Ball and many more.

As a ghost type attacker, getting Shadow Claw + Shadow Ball would make it the #1 non-mega ghost type attacker in the game, surpassing Giratina-Origin and even the unreleased Dragapult. It’s basically a Chandelure on ster*ids, a bit less bulk but much more offensive power. It’s still significantly worse than Mega Gengar but let’s be honest, Mega Gengar is one of the best Pokémon in the entire game and very few Pokémon will have the chance to outDPS it. Very, very interesting ghost type attacker indeed.

As a fire type attacker, with Fire Spin and Overheat it would become a slightly better non-shadow Moltres/Entei/Darmanitan and a marginally better Volcarona, but it’d still be outclassed by SF shadow Ho-Oh, Reshiram and of course Mega Charizard Y, the undisputed fire type king. Overall, not a bad fire type attacker but the competition is just too strong for it to shine in the current meta. 

Ideal moveset:

  • Fast moves: Shadow Claw, Fire Spin
  • Charge moves: Shadow Ball, Overheat/Flamethrower

Parting words

And that’s it, trainers! 

So what do you think? Are you excited to battle and catch the Ultra Beasts? I can’t remember the last time I wrote an analysis where so many #1 spots in the DPS/TDO charts were in reach, so it’ll be interesting to see what finally happens once the moveset roulette stops spinning and we get the definitive movesets. Until then, all we can do is speculate and analyse the potential outcomes.

Happy hunting!

Kratos out.

Author & tags

Pokémon fan since 2000. Played every single game without exception. I'm an engineer, a tech lover and also a big sports fan. Science is my religion :)

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