Possible Charge Move Fixes: PvE Edition

On 9/27/19 Niantic implemented a movepool update similar to previous ones where they added charge moves to some Pokémon, mostly to try to make them more viable for PvP. Along with this update they changed the charge move Psychic. It went from being a one bar move with 100 power to a two bar move with 90 power, making it much stronger and more viable for gym defending + battling, and raiding. Now only Psystrike, Mewtwo’s signature move, surpasses Psychic in strength as a Psychic type move and not by much.

It may not seem like it at first, but this is a pretty big deal. This shows that Niantic has begun to recognize that the performance gap between certain charge moves (usually exclusive and non-exclusive) is too large and unbalanced so they want to further balance the game. The purpose of this article is to provide more examples of charge moves that could receive the same treatment to make non-legacy or non-exclusive moves more viable for raids and gym battling + defending.

First, let’s talk about what a charge move consists of in Pokémon GO:

  1. Animation Time or Cooldown – Measured in seconds.
  2. Base Power – Currently ranges from 10 – 180.
  3. Damage Window – The time it takes once the animation starts for the charge move’s damage to actually inflict on the opponent. This value is always lower than the animation time.
  4. Energy Cost – Always either 33, 50 or 100. 33 indicates a three bar move, 50 indicates a 2 bar move and 100 indicates a one bar move.

If you have this information for any charge move, you can calculate some additional metrics:

  • Damage Per Second (DPS) – Base Power/Animation Time. The higher this value is, the stronger a charge move is overall.
  • Damage Per Energy (DPE) – Base Power/Energy Cost. The current highest value is 2.2, achieved only by the charge moves Blast Burn and Outrage.

Why are these values important? Multiplying them together (DPS*DPE) gives you an accurate representation of how good a charge move is. The only issue with using this method is that it sometimes favors one bar moves over 2 and 3 bar moves, even though in practice 2 and 3 bar moves tend to be superior due to there being a much lower chance of wasted energy. Most “good” charge moves have a DPS*DPE value of 55 or higher, the Ground type move Earth Power is a good example at 55.56. The cutoff point between “good” and “bad” moves is about 46 DPS*DPE, the Ground type move Drill Run is a perfect example at 45.71 as it isn’t terrible but not great either.

Now let’s talk about some charge moves that could really use a rework, and how they can be fixed:

  • Earthquake – In its current state, it is a terrible one bar move with only 40 DPS*DPE. It has the same animation time as the Dragon type move Draco Meteor but 20% less base power. Changing it to a 2 bar move with 110 base power would make it much stronger and comparable to Outrage, which suits the nature of a move like Earthquake as it is the strongest Ground type move in the main series games besides Groudon’s signature move Precipice Blades. Another way to improve Earthquake would be to simply increase its base power to 150 to match Draco Meteor. Ground types in Pokémon GO have always been held back from ever being consistently viable for raiding due to Earthquake being such a bad move, so an improvement like these would make the raiding meta more diverse and will finally let Ground types shine.
  • Flash Cannon, Hurricane, Future Sight, Thunderbolt, Drill Run, Rock Slide – These moves have very similar cooldowns to the likes of Avalanche, Psychic, Dynamic Punch, Grass Knot and Wild Charge, but are lackluster compared to them. Flash Cannon and Hurricane in particular are very bad as they have very low base power for being one bar moves. Future Sight isn’t terrible in its current state, but since it’s a one bar move it is significantly inferior to Psychic. Making it a 2 bar move with 90 base power would make them virtually identical. The latter three moves have 80 base power instead of 90 like Avalanche and Dynamic Punch so they are rather weak. Changing Flash Cannon and Hurricane to 2 bar moves with 90 base power and upgrading the other three to 90 base power would make them much more viable. Metagross especially would appreciate an upgrade to Flash Cannon so it could have some viability as a Steel type attacker without its Community Day move Meteor Mash. Dragonite could have some use as a Flying type attacker with an upgrade to Hurricane.
  • Stone Edge, Close Combat, Thunder, Megahorn, Brave Bird, Heavy Slam, Foul Play, Flamethrower – These moves are faster than the previously mentioned ones, having similar animation times to strong moves like Sludge Bomb and Sky Attack. However, they suffer from lack of power. The first five are especially bad for being one bar moves: Stone Edge, Close Combat and Thunder have only 100 base power while Megahorn and Brave Bird are worse at 90 base power. Changing these to 2 bar moves with 80 base power would improve them tremendously. Brave Bird would essentially become a Sky Attack clone with a slightly faster damage window, which would improve Flying types in general because Sky Attack is the only viable Flying charge move currently available. Close Combat would become a much needed strong Fighting type move that isn’t Dynamic Punch. Currently, Dynamic Punch is the only Fighting type charge move that is viable and thus if something can’t learn it in the main series games, it is destined to not be a strong Fighting type attacker in Pokémon GO. Gallade, Heracross and Lucario, for example, would greatly appreciate an improvement to Close Combat so they can compete with Machamp and the yet to be released Conkeldurr. Thunder would become a strong Electric type move that could compete with Wild Charge. Megahorn would become a really strong Bug move which the game is currently lacking. An improvement to Stone Edge would give some more viability to the Rock types that don’t have access to the current strongest Rock type move Rock Slide in their current Pokémon GO moveset, like Tyranitar, Golem and Rhyperior. Heavy Slam, Foul Play and Flamethrower have 70 base power instead of 80 like Sludge Bomb and Sky Attack so they are weak in comparison. Upgrading them to 80 base power would make them stronger.
  • Crunch, Ancient Power, Dark Pulse, Heat Wave, Gunk Shot, Blizzard, Ice Beam, Aurora Beam, Bulldoze, Psybeam, Hydro Pump, Dragon Pulse, Focus Blast – These moves have similar cooldowns to the strongest and only viable Ghost type charge move Shadow Ball, which also happens to be one of the strongest charge moves in the game at 66.66 DPS*DPE. Dark Pulse and Heat Wave are tied with Shadow Ball at 3.00 seconds, but they are much inferior to it. Dark Pulse is 80 base power compared to Shadow Ball’s 100, and Heat Wave is a terrible 1 bar move with 95 base power at 30.09 DPS*DPE. Increasing Dark Pulse’s base power to 100 and making Heat Wave a 2 bar move with 100 base power would make them very near Shadow Ball clones. Ice Beam, Bulldoze, Aurora Beam, Psybeam and Dragon Pulse are 2 bar moves and are slower than Shadow Ball but have lower base power, so increasing them to 100 would make them similar in performance. Gunk Shot, Blizzard, Hydro Pump and Focus Blast are slightly slower than Shadow Ball but are 1 bar moves. Making them 2 bar moves with 100 base power would make them more consistent and stronger overall. Improving Focus Blast this way would also make Blaziken and Emboar more viable as Fighting type attackers. Crunch and Ancient Power are 3 bar moves with 70 base power but their long animation times are holding them back, so making them 2 bar moves with 100 base power would improve them.
  • Zap Cannon, Bug Buzz, Energy Ball, Moonblast – These moves are significantly slower than Shadow Ball, having animation times close to 4 seconds like Outrage. Bug Buzz and Energy Ball are 2 bar moves but only have 90 base power. Zap Cannon and Moonblast are 1 bar moves. Increasing Energy Ball and Bug Buzz to 110 base power and turning Zap Cannon and Moonblast to 2 bar moves with 110 base power would make them very similar to Outrage.
  • Aerial Ace, Discharge, Dragon Claw, X-Scissor – These are 3 bar moves that are lacking in power. Aerial Ace has the same cooldown (2.4 seconds) as Leaf Blade, a very strong Grass type three bar move, but has 55 base power instead of 70. Increasing Aerial Ace’s base power to 70 would make it a very strong Flying type move with a slower damage window than Leaf Blade. Discharge has a slightly slower cooldown than Leaf Blade at 2.5 seconds but is also weaker in power, so raising it to 70 would improve it slightly. Dragon Claw is fast at 1.7 seconds but 50 power doesn’t quite cut it. 60 would be much better and would make Latios and legacy Dragonite more viable as Dragon type attackers. X-Scissor is slightly faster than Dragon Claw and would be strong with 55 power instead of 45.
  • Iron Head and Surf – Both are 2 bar moves and would be more viable with 70 base power. Surf wouldn’t improve by much while Iron Head would become slightly stronger than Foul Play.
  • Psycho Boost – The signature move of Deoxys. In its current state it’s a 2 bar move, the worst Psychic type charge move and one of the worst moves in the game, only having 24.5 DPS*DPE. This is due to it having 70 base power and an extremely long animation time of 4 seconds. Reducing its animation time to 2 seconds would make it nearly a Foul Play clone depending on its damage window. Another way to improve it would be to increase its base power to 110, which would make it slightly worse than Outrage.

Combined with the above suggestions, if every Pokémon in Pokémon GO had access to all the moves that they can learn in the main series games besides Community Day ones, signatures, and exclusives, base stats would be the biggest factor in how good something is, not the movesets. This would mostly eliminate the possibility that something is inferior or bad just because it did not get a certain moveset, and everything would be at their full potential. In order for this to work though, the TM system would have to be reworked to let us pick what moves we want when we use them. Because charge moves are so unbalanced, they usually end up being the biggest factor in a Pokémon’s strength, rather than base stats. This has happened with Pokémon such as Kingler, Metagross, Moltres and Honchkrow. Kingler became the best Water type attacker in terms of DPS when it received Crabhammer, even stronger than Kyogre. Metagross became the still undisputed best Steel type attacker when it received Meteor Mash on Beldum Community Day, and there’s a good chance it will always stay at the top. Moltres and Honchkrow are stronger Flying type attackers than even Rayquaza since Sky Attack is such a stronger move than Aerial Ace.

Credit to GamePress for the information on all the charge moves mentioned.