Returning to Pokémon GO: Part 2 (2019)

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Well hello, Trainer! As you are currently reading this guide for returning players, we can only assume you have decided to open up Pokémon GO again!

While we are happy to see returning players, you should know Pokémon GO has changed A LOT. Whether it’s been from the very beginning, or just a year ago since you have last played, you’ve got quite a bit of catching up to do! When we say ‘a lot’, we mean ‘a lot’. Therefore, this guide will appear in 3 parts. As new content will continue to be added, these Guides will be updated in the future! Without further ado, welcome to

Returning to Pokémon GO Part 2: Bulky Battles Make Fabulous Friends

As you are returning to Pokémon GO, we assume you’ve been out for a while. In this guide, you’ll get an overview of what may have changed since the last time you played in terms of Battling and Social Gameplay.

Gym System Rework

If you played Pokémon GO in the first year, you probably remember the unbeatable Blissey-packed Gyms back then. You’ll probably be happy to read these days are over, as a massive Gym System Rework took place in the early Summer of 2017. A lot has changed, so let’s list up the most important things:

Gym System Rework
New Gym Features
Gym PlacementDeploy Pokémon Button All 6 Pokémon have to be unique
Gym Motivation SystemGym Motivation Pokémon have motivation (displayed with a heart container)
Pokémon lose Motivation over time and when defeated in Battle
Pokémon with full Motivation faint after been defeated three times
Pokémon can gain motivation when you feed them Berries
Gym BattlesBattle Button Gym Defenders get battled in the order they were assigned to the Gym
Battle Winners have priority to place their Pokémon inside the defeated Gym
You can use a party of 6 Pokémon to battle
You can create pre-made Battle Parties consisting of 6 Pokémon
Gym BadgeGym Badges You can level up a Gym Badge by interacting with that Gym
Gym Badges have 4 Tiers: Blanco, Bronze, Silver, and Gold
Gym Badges effect Item drops and increase your chances at receiving an EX Raid Pass (see later on)
Gym PhotoDiscGym Photo Disc Button You can receive Items from a Gym by spinning its PhotoDisc
A higher Gym Badge increases Item drops
PokécoinsPokécoin You earn 1 Pokécoin per every 10 minutes defended
You can earn up to 50 Pokécoins per day
You can defend a maximum of 20 Gyms at once
You get a notification when your Pokémon returns from a Gym, accompanied by the amount of Pokécoins earned

More about these features can be found in the following articles:

Raid Battles and EX Raid Battles

Raid Battles

With the Gym Rework, a whole new feature came out: Raid Battles. We are safe to say that, up until today, this is the most important and significant update in the game. Raid Battles opened up a brand new world of social gameplay in Pokémon GO, but what are they?

A Raid Battle is a cooperative gameplay feature in which you and other Trainers try to defeat an extra powerful Pokémon. This Pokémon is called a Raid Boss. After you defeated the Raid Boss, you get rewarded with Items and Stardust. You are also offered an amount of Premier Balls (white Pokéball), as you get the chance to catch the Raid Boss in a downgraded appearance.

Before the Raid Battle itself starts, a big Raid Egg pops up on top of the Gym where the Raid Battle will take place. There are 5 different Tiers of Raid Battles which reflect in different difficulty levels.

Raid Tiers
Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3 Tier 4 Tier 5
Raid Egg Tier 1-2 Raid Egg Tier 1-2 Raid Egg Tier 3-4 Raid Egg Tier 3-4 Raid Egg Tier 5

Raid Battles Features
Raid Egg
  • A Raid Egg appears on top of the hosting Gym 1 hour before the Raid Battle starts + a notification pops up on your screen.
  • Above the Raid Egg, a timer is displayed counting down to the start of the Raid Battle.
  • You can find nearby Raids on the Nearby List in the bottom right corner of your screen, accompanied by the time the Egg will hatch
Raid Pass
You can receive 1 free Raid Pass (orange) per day when entering a Gym or spinning it’s PhotoDisc (if you don’t already have one).
You can buy extra Premium Raid Passes (green) in the in-game Shop.
EX Raids require an EX Raid Pass (black) to participate (see later on).
Raid Battle
  • From the moment the Raid Boss hatched, you have 45 minutes to enter the Raid Battle.
  • After inserting your Raid Pass, you first enter a 2-minute timer Raid Lobby where you can choose 6 Pokémon to battle with.
  • You can use pre-made Battle Parties (see Gym System Rework).
  • For Tier 1-4 Raid Battles, you have 180 seconds to defeat the Boss. For Tier 5 Raid Battles you have 300 seconds.
  • You win the Raid Battle when the Raid Boss’ health bar is empty before the timer ended.
  • If you fail to defeat a Raid Boss, you can try again as much as you want until the Raid is over.
Raid Rewards
Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3 Tier 4 Tier 5
3000 XP 3500 XP 4000 XP 5000 XP 10000 XP
All Rewards appear in bundles. You can find more about them here.
Items Revive Pokemon GO Super Potion Pokemon GO Hyper Potion Pokémon GO Pokémon GO Golden Razz Berry
Pokémon GO Fast TM Pokémon GO Charged TM Pokémon GO Rare Candy Stardust Pokemon GO
Raid Boss Catching
  • The Raid Boss’ CP reduces to Level 20, or Level 25 with Weather boost (see Part 3).
  • You receive a certain amount of Premier Balls to catch the Raid Boss.
  • The amount of Premier Balls is based on: the Damage you dealt, your Team’s contribution, Gym Control, and Friendship Level Bonuses (see later on).
  • The Raid Boss can flee, but only after the last Premier Ball has been thrown.

EX Raid Battles

At their core, EX Raid Battles are very similar to regular Raid Battles, but there are some important key differences:

  • EX Raids only happen on EX Raid eligible Gyms
  • You have to be invited in order to participate in an EX Raid Battle
  • To be invited, you have to successfully complete Raid Battles on an EX Raid eligible Gym
  • EX Raids feature an Exclusive Raid Boss which is only available through the EX Raid System (or at least in the period this Pokémon features in EX Raids)

More about these features and Raid Guides can be found here:

Trainer Battles (PvP)

You read that right, Trainers! PvP has arrived in Pokémon GO. Ever since launch in the Summer of 2016, the Pokémon GO Community was hoping for some ‘Player vs. Player’ battle system. Well, it’s here!

Trainer Battles are a competitive game feature recently introduced to Pokémon GO. The table underneath gives you a brief overview of how Trainer Battles work. For more information and in-depth guides, please visit our Pokémon GO PvP page!

PvP Leagues
Great League Ultra League Master League
Pokémon GO Great League Pokémon GO Ultra League Pokémon GO Master League
Max. 1500 CP Max. 2500 CP Unlimited CP
Trainer Battle Features
Challenge Trainers
Combat Button Trainer Battle
  • You can challenge Trainers nearby through the Nearby tab by scanning a personalized QR-code.
  • You can remotely challenge Trainers with whom you are Ultra Friends through your Friends list.
  • You can challenge Blanche, Candela, and Spark through the Nearby tab at the bottom right of your screen (this will contribute to your Ace Trainer-badge.
Before Battle
  • You first need to choose in which League you wish to battle.
  • You need to select 3 Pokémon for Battle.
  • You can use pre-made Battle Parties.
In Battle
Protect Shield Trainer Battles
  • You need to tap in order to charge up your Charged Move(s).
  • To perform your Charged Move(s), you have to tap quickly on the Charged Move button.
  • You can use a Protect Shield to block the opponent’s Charged Move, but only twice in the whole battle.
  • You can switch between your Pokémon, with a 50 seconds wait between 2 switches.
Trainer Battle Rewards
Rewards come in bundles. 1 Item is in each Bundle. Trainers may receive up to 2 Bundles
Stardust Pokemon GO Pokémon GO Rare Candy Sinnoh Stone Pokémon GO Fast TM Pokémon GO Charged TM

Friendship and Trading

In the Summer of 2018, another wildly anticipated feature got introduced. A whole new Friendship System became available, and with this, a Trading function also arrived in Pokémon GO. That’s right, Trainers! You can finally trade your Pokémon with fellow Trainers! Let’s take a look at these new features.

Friendship System

The Friendship System is a new feature which allows you to become friends with other Trainers! Every Trainer has a unique Trainer Code, as well as a unique QR-code. Trainers can have up to 200 Friends in Pokémon GO. Every Friendship Level has its benefits regarding Raids and Gym Battles you perform with a particular Friend. There are several ways to level up, which can be found in the table below.

Friendship System in Pokémon GO
Friendship Levels and Effects
Good Friend Great Friend Ultra Friend Best Friend Lucky Friend
1 day of interaction 7 days of interaction 30 days of interaction 90 days of interaction More info later on
1x Attack Bonus + 1 extra Premier Ball 2x Attack Bonus + 2 extra Premier Balls 3x Attack Bonus + 4 extra Premier Balls Guaranteed Lucky Trade
Ways to Increase Friendship Levels
You can increase Friendship once a day per Friend
 Battle with Friends Complete a Gym Battle with a Friend
Complete a Raid Battle with a Friend
Complete a Trainer Battle with a Friend
 GiftsPokémon GO Gift Open a Gift sent by a Friend
Have a Gift you sent opened by a Friend
Sending a Gift will NOT increase your Friendship
More about Gifts later on in this article
TradingTrade Icon Pokémon GO Trade a Pokémon with a Friend
More about Trading later on in this article


A Gift is an Item box introduced with the release of the Friendship System. It allows you to sent and receive a box, which contains various Items. The following table gives a brief overview of Gift features and what’s inside them.

Gifts in Pokémon GO
Pokémon GO Gift
Gift Features
You can receive Gifts from spinning Pokéstops and Gyms
You can carry a maximum of 10 Gifts in your Bag, but they don’t take in Bag space
You can open a maximum of 20 Gifts per day
You can send a maximum of 100 Gifts per day
Gifts can be deleted
Gift Containments
Pokéballs Revives and Potions Pinap Berries Evolution Items Stardust
Pokéballs Pokémon GO Potions & Revives Pinap Berry Pokemon GO Iron Coat & King's Rock Stardust Pokemon GO


With the Friendship System, a whole new Trading feature got implemented. Trainers can finally Trade with their friends in Pokémon GO! Let’s take a look at all the features of Trading.

Trading in Pokémon GO
Trading Button Pokémon GO
Trading Features
In order to Trade with another Trainer, you have to be Friends
Trading costs Stardust, the amount depending on Friendship Level and kind of Trade
You can Trade 100 Pokémon per day
Legendaries, Shiny’s and Pokémon unregistered in a Trainer’s Pokédex require a Special Trade
You have to be at least Great Friends to perform a Special Trade
You can only perform one Special Trade per day
Pokémon Stats change after a Trade

Lucky Pokémon

When you perform a Trade in Pokémon GO, IV’s get randomly rerolled. With the addition of Lucky Pokémon, a whole new world of Trading opened! When performing a Trade, Pokémon have a small chance to become Lucky for both Trainers. A Lucky Pokémon requires 50% less Stardust to power up. The older the Pokémon you Trade, the more chance you have for it to become a Lucky Pokémon.

Guaranteed Lucky Trade

If you (or the Trainer you Trade with) have less than 10 Lucky Pokémon, trading a Pokémon from your (or the other Trainer’s) Storage caught in July or August 2016 will result in a guaranteed Lucky Trade!

Lucky Friends

A recent addition was made to the Friendship and Trading System. Trainers who have reached the status of “Best Friends,” now have the chance to become Lucky Friends. This means the next Trade performed with that Trainer will result in a Lucky Pokémon for both Trainers!

Want to learn more about Friendship, Trading, Gifts, and Lucky Pokémon? Check out these articles:

Returning to Pokémon GO: In Closing

Well, that’s it for Part 2 of Returning to Pokémon GO, Trainers! As you can see, a lot has changed since the game was released in Summer 2016. I hope this guide will encourage you to take on new adventures, and help lots of other Trainers returning to Pokémon GO. Need more catching up? Be sure to check out:

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I'm a 21 years old Belgian Trainer, proud to be in Team Valor. Pokémon enthusiast, soccer lover and studying to help people.

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