A new set of Raid invites went out to Pokémon Go players this week, allowing them to participate in the game’s most exclusive battles. But despite promises from Niantic to adjust the confusing, oft-criticized system, players still find themselves locked out — and they don’t know why.
Officially known as EX Raid battles, these time-sensitive battles are the only way to capture especially rare Pokémon. To participate in the co-op multiplayer feature, players must meet a specific eligibility criterion: Only those who have won regular Raid battles can receive the required Premium Raid pass. They can also increase the likelihood that they’ll be invited into if they’re high-leveled, or if they’ve fought in a large number of Raids.
But EX Raids ultimately operate on a random basis. There’s little advance warning that one is about to occur, and invitees must quickly head to a common space (generally a park or “sponsored location”) during a set time period in order to play. The worst part of it is that the invitation system continues to befuddle hardcore players who have yet to win a Premium Raid pass, meaning they’re unable to complete their Pokédexes. Legendary Pokémon Mewtwo is only available in EX Raid battles — so no pass, no Pokémon #150.
Players first complained after EX Raids entered beta last summer. Although Niantic took a few months to respond to the issues, making the battles slightly easier to win an invitation into, the studio’s fixes don’t seem to have helped much for the first EX Raid of 2018.
“459 raids here without a pass,” said one member of The Silph Road community, a Pokémon Go enthusiast group. “Did same raids at the same Sprint store as my friends. On got his second EX pass, one his third, and one his TENTH. Why is it so hard to just do a few waves where they only send out passes to those who have never had one?”
This is a typical comment from Pokémon Go players, many of whom have played and won hundreds of standard Raid battles without ever winning a Premium Raid pass. Despite the fairly straightforward criteria, the consensus is that EX Raids just ... don’t make a ton of sense.
“Players who have successfully EX raided multiple times appear to be no more or less likely to be selected for another EX raid, compared to players who have never been invited at all,” wrote Redditor dondon151, in a comprehensive post summing up the most common complaints. “Furthermore, completing an EX raid automatically qualifies a player for the next EX wave, whereas uninvited players must continue to periodically raid at the gym to stay eligible.”
The question for many The Silph Road users and Pokémon Go fans on social media is whether the EX Raid system is even worth worrying about anymore. While Mewtwo is attractive, even necessary for serious players to capture, contending with an inexplicable system may prove far too frustrating.
“I understand Niantic is trying to keep the players engaged on a daily basis,” wrote a player musing on whether their time with Pokémon Go is over. “It’s just that I am now getting the feeling that I am not being encouraged to play often, rather I am being dictated to, play here and now.”
With the point of Pokémon being to become the very best that no one ever was, players are rightfully fed up. 2018 has only just begun; perhaps we’ll soon find more luck with the EX Raid system as the year rolls on.