Pokemon Go's new gyms are officially open for business. While the core function of the gyms - battling other player's Pokemon for team control - remains the same, just about every aspect of the gym experience has been replaced in the hopes of making things more welcoming for players.
This isn't just a aesthetic change, either. Gyms fundamentally behave different than they have for the last year, so you might be a little confused when you first enter a gym looking to battle.
So what's changed about the new gyms? Here's a look at some of the changes you can expect when you give the new gyms a go.
The first thing you'll notice is that gyms can now hold a maximum of six gym defenders as opposed to ten. Not only does this conform to the traditional standard of six Pokemon teams, the smaller defense force also means it's hypothetically easier to actually beat all the gym defenders in one battle.
You'll also notice that gym defenders are no longer arranged from weakest to strongest. Instead of battling a gauntlet of harder to beat Pokemon, gym attackers will face defending Pokemon in the order that they were put into a gym. The first Pokemon you face is the longest serving gym defender.
Gyms have traditionally used "prestige" as a measure of strength. The defending team built up prestige by training at the gym, while an attacking team wore prestige down by defeating defenders. The less prestige a gym had, the less slots it had for gym defenders, which made it hypothetically easier for other teams to capture.
Now that each gym has a fixed slot of six Pokemon, prestige is a thing of the past. Instead, attackers will work to lower gym defenders' motivation in battle. Motivation, which is denoted by a new heart meter as seen above, decreases naturally over time and also decreases when a defender loses a gym defenders. Instead of training at gyms, players can rebuild lost motivation by feeding gym defenders berries. Any player on a team that holds a gym can feed berries, so you won't necessarily need to visit gyms daily if you have a Pokemon stationed there.
You might also notice that gym defenders have a bit more diversity than they did before. Gyms can now only have one Pokemon per species defending it, which means no more gauntlets of Blissey, Vaporeon, or Dragonite everywhere you go.
The limits, coupled with some other changes to how damage is calculated, will probably change the metagame dramatically. You might see some previously popular gym defenders fall out of favor for new and unexpected Pokemon.
One other limit could also play a role in gym defense. Code found in the new update indicates that Legendary Pokemon can't be gym defenders. So, don't expect any Mewtwo to be waiting for you at the end of an arduous gym battle.
There's one other big addition to gyms: players can now obtain items from them. The new gym setup comes with a photo disc that can be spun similar to PokeStops. Players can collect items from gyms once every five minutes.
What's more, players can only get certain items exclusively from gyms. Raid Passes, which will eventually unlock the ability to participate in raids, can be obtained once a day for free from collecting items at gyms.
There are still a few questions about how collecting items from gyms work. For example, we don't know whether players can use the Pokemon Go+ to interact with gyms to collect items.
Pokemon Go really wants players to use the new gyms, so they're implementing a new kind of reward: gym badges. Each gym will have a different gym badge, that players can level up by performing certain actions at gyms. Players will get credit for attacking gyms, defending gyms, and feeding Pokemon at gyms.
Players can view all the gym badges they have on an exclusive gym badge screen, which comes with a world map to show exactly where each gym badge was collected. There's no limit to how many gym badges you collect, so interact with every gym you find.
Similar to Pokemon Go's medals, there's a benefit to boosting your gym badges' levels. The higher level your gym badge is, the more items you'll get when collecting items at that gym.
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