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Pokémon Go’s Raid Battles are wearing players out

Legendary Pokémon fatigue sets in ahead of Mewtwo’s arrival

mewtwo pokemon go raid battle art Niantic/The Pokémon Company

Pokémon Go’s cooperative multiplayer mode, the gym-based Raid Battles, has exited the honeymoon phase and is now inspiring backlash from players. And rightfully so — with the highly anticipated release of legendary Pokémon tied to the mode, players who have struggled to rally up a team for Raid Battles have every reason to be frustrated.

Niantic introduced Raid Battles in June, fulfilling the promise of multiplayer nearly a year after Pokémon Go’s launch. The mode requires players to work together to take down powerful Pokémon, which they then have the chance to catch. While Raid Battles are a good way to beef up a player’s team, they didn’t feel like a requirement at launch.

That changed with the release of legendary Pokémon last month, however. Each of the four currently available legendaries is only obtainable through participating in and winning a Raid Battle, and most of these are only offered for a limited time.

Dedicated players managed to capture Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres during the Pokémon’s weeklong stints at the gym, while Lugia remains available. The caveat, of course, is that those dedicated players had to have access to gyms, where Raid Battles are held. That’s not always possible for players in more isolated locations, meaning many fans had little chance to catch the coveted monsters.

But the announcement that Mewtwo, the game’s next legendary Pokémon, would be tied to an even more exclusive form of Raid Battles — called, appropriately, Exclusive Raid Battles — prompted a stronger wave of complaints. Exclusive Raid Battles will run on an even more time-sensitive basis, and they’ll only be available to players who have already successfully participated in a Raid Battle.

Top Reddit threads call out Niantic for how the recent glut of legendary Pokémon Raids emphasizes the problem with the multiplayer mode.

“These Pokemon come and go and we don't know when they'll become available again,” wrote LuperMattroid in a highly upvoted thread on the Pokémon Go subreddit. “Even if they are, will enough people care to group up to fight it in a raid? I can't see how many people are interested in a raid until I get there and sit around for around two hours, trying to convince passersby that I'm playing Pokemon Go and they should come by and wait so we can have a shot at beating the boss together to get a shot at catching it.”

Tying Mewtwo to an even stricter version of the mode could mean that even those who have had the chance to play a Raid Battle might not be able to capture one. It’s been called “stressful,” “an obligation” and, importantly, not fun.

Raid Battle fatigue is a hot topic on other Pokémon Go boards, like The Silph Road, where players argue that the game has transformed from a casual collecting experience into something more time-consuming.

“The last few weeks, especially with the poor communication about when the birds would be leaving, made that impossible,” wrote Redditor tert_butoxide. “I HAD to do legendary raids to fill my dex — tons of them, because of the low catch rate. So either give up on being casual or give up on collecting. Now I've got to do it all over again in hopes that the layers and layers of RNG give me a Mewtwo?”

Niantic hasn’t said when Mewtwo will be available worldwide, although Japanese players were able to fight it at a special event this weekend. Those who defeated the Mewtwo Raid Battle then had a 100 percent chance of catching the Pokémon, which mitigates some of global players’ concerns. But it’s clear that the Raid Battle mechanic has changed Pokémon Go in fundamental ways for many players — and maybe not for the better.