Pokemon GO Legendary Birds

The Legendary Question

USER GUIDE | Submitted by Chateranga on 17th January 2017

Since the beta testing of Pokemon Go, trainers have speculated on how the Legendary Pokemon would be released. After the Halloween Event, trainers found rejuvenated hope in Niantic and started posting on social media all the ideas that could follow now that events were in the game. Again, speculation ran rampant on how close Legendary Pokemon were to being released, as well as when Gen 2 Pokemon should or would be released.

Now, a month after the “Generation 2 Babies” were introduced, social media has once again started discussing Legendary Pokemon. The biggest question is: Why have they started releasing Generation 2, when we still do not have Generation 1 Legendary Pokemon?

What we know so far…

A little over six weeks after Pokemon Go was released (August 19th) Niantic changed, or removed certain moves from specific Pokemon (With the most famous Pokemon being Gyarados losing “Dragon Breath” and only being able to learn “Bite” as a Quick Attack). Being that the game was fairly new, most players were surprised by this action and wondered how often this would occur in the following months. However, over the next four months Niantic focused on changes to Gym mechanics and has not changed any moves on any Pokemon since. In December, Niantic made a change to their Base Stat Formula and ultimately made certain Pokemon weaker or stronger, but the overall goal seemed to be balancing the gym battle system. An observation can be made that Niantic seems focused on Gym Battles, so much that some players believe they are under developing features like the “In Game Tracker”, or not developing Trading and PvP battle systems altogether. If Niantic is truly focused on the Pokemon Battle System in general, then this would provide a possible reason as to why we do not have Legendary Generation 1 Pokemon in the game.

Stats Don’t Lie!

In a console or handheld environment, like the first versions of Pokemon were released on, the overwhelming power of rare legendary Pokemon like Mew or Mewtwo, is mitigated to the single player. However, when you look at these attributes in a multiple player environment, you have a lot of problems with balance and utilization. A great example of this was highlighted when “Pokemon Stadium” was released for Nintendo 64, as players would eventually just battle each other with Mew and Mewtwo, with the occasional underdog wanting to prove that Alakazam was just as good. If you were in a competitive environment, and did not own Mew or Mewtwo, you simply had no options for winning. Pokemon Go is no exception to this phenomenon and a simple examination into the Pokemon stats demonstrates the problem.

ATK DEF Stamina Max HP
Mewtwo 330 200 212 179
Mew 210 210 200 169
Alakazam 271 194 110 98
Hypno 144 215 170 145

 

During the early months of Pokemon Go, Hypno was a high Tier defender in most gyms and Alakazam was just too weak to be considered for anything other than a Pokedex requirement. After the December “CP” changes, many trainers began using Alakazam for attacking and some even believe he became a good defender because of the high damage he delivers.

However, the main stat the improves a Pokemon’s ability to defend is stamina and this is why Hypno still stays above Alakazam in defending gyms. Now if you consider that Mew and Mewtwo have more Stamina and Health than both of these Psychic types, why would you bother using anything else?

But what about the Legendary Birds?

The most overlooked point that players do not discuss is the “Type” advantage the Legendary Birds have over their counterparts. With the addition of “Flying” it is possible to overcome most weaknesses that the Legendary Birds share with Pokemon of similar types. Another consideration has to be made for the possible movesets as well, since we now know that Niantic uses place holders for movesets. (Current game files show Generation 2 Pokemon with generic moves) With all of this considered, what if Niantic added Flying moves to the Legendary birds, or another common move for Flying types “Steel Wing”.

With Rock being the number one type to counter the Legendary Birds, it is No surprise that Niantic looked at making changes that helped Rhydon and Golem in December. However, if they give the previously mentioned moves to the Legendary Birds, the damage would still be too much for any type advantage. So, again we have to ask, why would anyone choose another Fire, Electric, or Ice type in gyms?

ATK DEF Stamina Max HP
Zapdos 253 188 180 153
Moltres 251 184 180 153
Articuno 192 249 180 153
Charizard 223 176 156 134

 

Charizard is the best example to compare how the possible movesets may affect the balance in gyms, with regards to the Legendary Birds. Currently Charizard is one of the best choices for Fire Types that defend gyms.

Logistical Nightmare!

Another topic that dominates the social media conversation is how common would the Legendaries be, and how would Niantic prevent cheats or hacks from gathering them more than the common player. As this article has highlighted, in the current environment players would struggle to defeat these high powered Pokemon. If players were able to acquire any of the Legendary Pokemon in large quantities, then they could control a large amount of gyms, and create havoc for Niantic from a customer complaint stand point. Players complain now about GPS Spoofers, Gym bots, Coin cheats, etc. Gyms full of Mewtwo, would definitely cause some backlog and ultimately Niantic has shown they cannot prevent, or are limited as to how fast they can respond to these problems. So, why would they release the Legendary Pokemon?

Does this mean we will never get Legendary Pokemon?!

In the beginning we discussed the game design of console or handheld devices, and how the first versions did not consider multiplayer interactions. However, the Pokemon franchise in general builds on each generation and provides solutions to the problems outlined in this article. The greatest advantage of Mew and Mewtwo is that Generation 1 lacks strong counter choices. The Legendary Birds benefit from all Gen 1 Rock types having additional types, so they can counter most of their rivals. Pokemon like Gengar demonstrate this problem as well with the “Poison Type” weakness to Psychic, so even he struggles to be a good counter.

In Generation 2, Dark, Bug, and Rock Pokemon all have strong additions, with the introduction of Tyranitar alone these added Pokemon affect the balance of power. An estimated 85 new moves could be added in Gen 2, which could provide additional counter options against the Generation 1 Legendaries. The additions of Espeon and Umbreon would provide versatility against Mew and Mewtwo, while Scizor, Houndoom, and Heracross could be even greater counters.

Generation 2 favorites like Gligar and Sudowoodo, could provide some challenges for the Legendary Birds. While Normal types like Porygon 2, Ursaring, Miltank, and Blissey could be even more important to the gym battle system than we know.

Regardless of what you believe, from a game development aspect, it makes sense to hold off releasing the Generation 1 Legendary Pokemon until Generation 2 is released. With Niantic showing time and time again that they cannot prevent cheats and hacks in the game, along with the idea that Generation 1 by itself does not provide enough balance to deal with Legendary Pokemon, do not be surprised if this is how Pokemon Go releases Legendary Pokemon going forward.

As each generation provides counters or answers to the previous, it makes sense to wait and release Legendary Pokemon for balance purposes in Pokemon Go. I hope this provides some possible solutions to the question on why we do not have Legendary Pokemon yet, and it encourages more conversation about how the Legendary Pokemon could be released in the future.

Good Luck and Happy Hunting!