Typing Review: An Overview of Dark Types for Raids in Pokemon Go

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One of the quintessential types that players building a raid team need to be able to counter is Psychic Type. As the projected strongest type in the game and a high priority type for picking up powerful Pokemon from raids, every player needs to be able to shut down these mind-expanding Pokemon, and so what better type than one that sports a double resistance to Psychic Types? Add to that the fact that it also counters Ghost Types, another high-priority type, and Dark seems like an ideal option for beginners.... right?

Well, anyone who has built a comprehensive raid team will know that Dark is a good yet flawed type, so don't go dropping your Stardust cache until you've done a bit of comparison, or at least checked out our review of Dark Types, current and future. Let's take a look, as we review the DarkType and its impact on the raid meta.

The State of the Type

The current top Dark Type attackers in the game are already outlined in our Best Attackers by Type list, linked above, so we recommend that you take a look at that to get a better list-breakdown, but these are the current candidates that we'll be working with in this article:

Dark Type is well known as the TDO option to match the DPS of its primary rival type: Ghost. However, this isn't always the case. Dark Types rely on their resistance to Ghost Type attacks and double-resistance to Psychic Type attacks to flex their TDO-counter capabilities, but when facing other attack types they actually tend to be fairly frail, with many of the top Shadow Dark Types in particular sporting pretty low bulk. The fact that many Psychic and Ghost Type raid bosses also tend to have Fighting or Fairy Type coverage moves also puts the hurt on Dark as a type, as many counters can't really deal with weaknesses extremely well. On the other hand, It's also worth mentioning that the top non-Mega Dark Types can frequently rival or even surpass the top non-Mega Ghost Types, with Brutal Swing Hydreigon in particular lording over anything weak to Ghost or Psychic pretty hard, meaning Dark actually is an optimal type in a lot of scenarios. 

For Mega Evolutions, Dark Types tend to actually be pretty solid, ranging from glass cannons like Mega Absol and Mega Houndoom to tanks like Mega Gyarados. However, this is also where one of Dark Type's biggest embarrassment needs to be addressed. Some may have noticed Mega Gengar on the list above, and this is due to the fact that it has a viable Dark Type moveset. And while it's not a top pick due to having lower DPS as a Dark Type attacker and not spreading around a Dark Type boost while on the field, it's still very telling that the looming specter that rivals Dark is able to even moonlight as a Dark Type itself and still rank pretty well. It definitely sheds light on just how steep the competition really is.

Dark Type Moves

As of the publishing of this article, we currently have access to 12 different Dark Type attacks, divided into 5 Fast Moves and 7 Charged Moves.

Fast Moves Charged Moves
Snarl Brutal Swing
Sucker Punch Foul Play
Feint Attack Dark Pulse
Bite Crunch
Hidden Power (Dark) Payback
Night Slash

The Good Moves

For Fast Moves, the moves that any Dark Type Pokemon wants to have are Snarl and Sucker Punch. In general, Snarl is the top pick due to its high Energy gains, but Sucker Punch is surprisingly good as well despite being frequently overlooked.

The absolute best Charged Move is Brutal Swing, a move that sports legitimately great stats. It's still fairly new and doesn't have much distribution, but it has the potential to drop for a lot of high-priority Dark Types in the future. A step down from Brutal Swing is Foul Play, which is definitely weaker but still a solid move that most Dark Types would be happy to have. Dark Pulse and Crunch finish off the list, as they're the baseline of "good" Dark Type moves.

The Bad Moves

Feint Attack and Bite are the bottom-of-the-barrel for Dark Type Fast Moves. They're not horrible, only dropping about 5%-8% below Snarl and Sucker Punch on average, but they're still the lower powered options. And what about Hidden Power (Dark)? Well, it's the weakest move in the lot and it's randomly-chosen, so it's hardly even a move worth talking about, truth be told.

Payback and Nightslash are both okay-ish, but definitely pretty low priority when compared to the better Dark Type Charged Moves. These moves frequently hold back any Pokemon utilizing them. Finally, Obstruct is a bad move in raids, but it's actually designed for PvP and is only usable by Obstagoon, so it's fine in that context.

The Future of Dark Types

Currently Unreleased Dark-Type Pokemon

Currently Unreleased Dark-Type Moves

  • Assurance
  • Baddy Bad*
    • Eevee (Let's Go Eevee)
  • Beat Up
  • Ceaseless Edge*
    • Hisuian Samurott
  • Comeuppance
  • Dark Void*
    • Darkrai
  • Darkest Lariat
  • Embargo
  • Fake Tears
  • False Surrender*
    • Morgrem, Grimmsnarl
  • Fiery Wrath*
    • Galarian Moltres
  • Flatter
  • Fling
  • Hone Claws
  • Hyperspace Fury*
    • Hoopa - Unbound
  • Jaw Lock
  • Judgment*
    • Arceus
  • Knock Off
  • Kowtow Cleave*
    • Kingambit
  • Lash Out
  • Memento
  • Multi-Attack*
    • Silvally
  • Nasty Plot 
  • Night Daze
  • Parting Shot
  • Power Trip
  • Punishment
  • Pursuit
  • Quash
  • Ruination*
    • Wo-Chien, Chien-Pao, Ting-Lu, Chi-Yu
  • Snatch
  • Switcheroo
  • Taunt
  • Thief
  • Throat Chop
  • Topsy-Turvy
  • Torment
  • Wicked Blow*
    • Urshifu - Single Strike

*: Signature Move

The Non-Threats

Aside from the Pokemon that aren't fully evolved, Thievul, Morepeko, Lokix, Bombirdier, Brute Bonnet, Wo-Chien, and Ting Lu are all too low on Attack to be a real threat, others with stronger Attack like Grimmsnarl, Meowscarda, Mabosstiff, will very likely fall behind the existing and future Pokemon and probably won't have any real value in the raid meta.

And, sadly, Mega Sharpedo doesn't really bring much to the table either. It's a glass-cannon, but we have better glass-cannon Dark Types, and with a small DPS cost it's possible to pick up the same typing with Mega Gyarados and enjoy a huge TDO boost. Meanwhile, Mega Sableye doesn't exist in the Raid meta. Sure, it can spread its Mega Boost to two types and lasts a long time, but we're out of the days where that could be considered an optimal strategy.

The Possible Threats

Pokemon in this section have varying degrees of potential viability for the future, but we can't feel comfortable saying that these outcomes are "likely" at this time. This may be due to how far away their release is likely to be, the likelihood of a moveset going their way, or in some cases the fact that our theorycrafted moveset is admittedly a bit too crazy to realistically consider. Regardless, these are all theoretically possible outcomes for these Pokemon, so they're worth mentioning.

  • Best Possible Moveset: Snarl + Foul Play
  • Potential Unused Moves: Kowtow Cleave, Assurance, Torment, Thief, Fling

Despite having a relatively low Attack stat, Kingambit actually has a fair bit of potential as a Dark Type attacker thanks to its access to Foul Play. This alone puts its top potential over the other Pokemon in this section, and it could go even farther if its signature move, Kowtow Cleave, ends up being added with good stats. 

  • Best Possible Moveset: Snarl + Dark Pulse
  • Potential Unused Moves: Jaw Lock, Throat Chop, Taunt

A bit of a sad case, Roaring Moon has an amazing design, but its Attack stat falls a bit short of the top Dark Types, and its moveset is good but not great. To add to that, it doesn't even have a signature move to fall back on to boost it to new heights. The best option in that regard would probably be Lock Jaw given its limited distribution. Given its ideal moveset, it will sit around Weavile as a Dark Type attacker.

  • Best Possible Moveset: Snarl + Dark Pulse
  • Potential Unused Moves: Assurance, Knock Off, Taunt

Iron Jugulis is basically the same story as Roaring Moon, but a bit weaker. It's likely not going to make many waves.

  • Best Possible Moveset: Sucker Punch + Dark Pulse
  • Potential Unused Moves: Ceaseless Edge, Thief, Fling, Knock Off, Taunt

This one is pretty iffy. Given its available moves, Hisuian Samurott likely won't stand a chance of being good as a Dark Type attacker. However, it has a Signature Move in Ceseless Edge, and if given the Hydro Cannon/Blast Burn/Frenzy Plant treatment, it has some potential to be a good Dark Type despite its lower attack stat.

  • Best Possible Moveset: Snarl + Dark Pulse
  • Potential Unused Moves: Ruination, Nasty Plot, Memento, Taunt

If given its best possible moveset, Chi-Yu is admittedly pretty underwhelming, sitting around Shadow Cacturne. The reason that it's on this part of the list is the fact that a reasonable power-range for its signature move, Ruination, allows it to range anywhere from good to near the top of the Dark Meta. We probably won't see it drop for quite some time, and Ruination is probably way beyond that, but it has some potential.

  • Best Possible Moveset: Snarl + Dark Pulse
  • Potential Unused Moves: Ruination, Throat Chop, Taunt

All of the points made for Chi-Yu apply here... but to a lesser degree. As-is it's basically a slightly worse Weavile if given its best possible moveset.

  • Best Possible Moveset: Sucker Punch or Snarl + Foul Play
  • Current Moveset: Sucker Punch + Payback

Urshifu boasts a solid Attack stat, a great Dark Type moveset, and a Signature Move by the name of Wicked Blow that it might be able to utilize in the future. It could very well become a huge player in the Dark Type meta.

The Likely Threats

These are the Pokemon that are established in one way or another, and have real potential for growth given existing game precedent. Pokemon in this section can range from potentially top-tier to somewhat mediocre, but they are all reasonably possible at some point in the future. Pokemon in this section will generally be here due to having access to a Signature move or a better on-type moveset that's established in Pokemon Go in their main series movepool, meaning Niantic could "fix" them at literally any time using reasonable methods that we've already seen utilized in the past. 

No, this section will not consider the potential of new "+" and/or "++" variants to existing moves.

  • Current Moveset: Bite + Crunch
  • Best Possible Moveset: Snarl + Brutal Swing

Mega Tyranitar is an inevitability, and is set to be something of a goldilocks pick between the TDO of Mega Gyarados and the DPS of Mega Absol/Mega Houndoom. However, this is mainly because it's held back by its moveset. If it were ever given Foul Play or especially Brutal Swing, it would become nearly undisputed as the Dark Type Mega Evolution of choice.

  • Current Moveset: Snarl + Dark Pulse/Shadow Ball
  • Best Possible Moveset: Snarl + Foul Play

Darkrai is in a pretty solid place as a Dark Type attacker, sitting as one of the best non-Mega/Shadow Dark Type attackers in the game, and the future looks bright. Darkrai's signature move, Dark Void, has already been referenced in the game data, so it's possible that it could show up at any time... although it was initially discovered about a year and a half ago and we still don't know what its stats may be. 

Regardless, Darkrai has huge potential. 

  • Best Possible Moveset: Snarl + Foul Play

Arceus actually has a lot of potential as a Dark Type. If given its best possible moveset, it sits as a better version of our current version of Darkrai, and if it's given a particularly powerful Judgement it could stand at or near the top of the type with ease. And since Judgement is very likely to be an extremely strong move, it's just a matter of hoping that this deified Pokemon is granted a strong Dark Type Fast Move to allow it to truly excel in this meta.

  • Current Moveset: Feint Attack + Night Slash
  • Best Possible Moveset: Feint Attack + Dark Pulse

Despite having a fairly "meh" Dark Type moveset, Ash Greninja's tremendous Attack stat keeps it relevant, to the point where it will definitely break into the high tier of Dark Type attackers when/if released.

...but the "if" is the real problem here. While Ash Greninja saw huge fanfare on its release, Gamefreak has sort of allowed it to fade into the background in recent years, and the fact that Ash has finally taken his final bow and left his role as the protagonist of the anime calls into the question if we'll ever actually see this unique forme in Pokemon Go.

The Looming Shadows

Right now, the big Shadows lingering on the horizon are Shadow Hydreigon, Shadow Zoroark, and Shadow Yveltal. All three are reasonably viable options for Shadow Pokemon moving forward, and they all have the potential to upend the Dark Type meta when/if released.

Other shadows with potential are Shadow Chi-Yu and Shadow Chien-Pao, but speculation on these two releasing as Shadows just compounds the above uncertainty outlined. Shadow Roaring Moon and Shadow Iron Jugulis have the potential to be good as well, but we have no precedent for Paradox Pokemon in Pokemon Go, much less Shadow Paradox Pokemon.

Pokemon that would be "good" given a Shadow form include Shadow Grimmsnarl, Shadow Bisharp (though that would also make a huge difference for Kingambit too), and Shadow Krookodile. Not great, but worth considering if you need Dark Type DPS.

The Gigantamax Factor

While not extremely likely, it's possible that Niantic could release the Dynamax/Gigantamax system first introduced in Generation 8/Galar into Pokemon Go. For those unaware, this system turns Pokemon giant, gives them new/overpowering moves, and grants a tremendous HP boost while active. And while the release of this feature isn't super likely, we thought it best to at least list the possible candidates with unique formes just to cover all bases, so these are all of the Dark Type Pokemon with a Gigantamax forme:

Verdict for the Future

While Dark will likely never be able to challenge the monster that is Mega Gengar, it actually does have some very powerful options now and some very real potential for a very bright future, to the point where some non-Mega Dark Types already top non-Mega Ghosts. While it's still somewhat seen as the TDO option to pair up with Ghost's DPS as a remnant of its past, we've seen a few Dark Types manage to differentiate themselves extremely well, and we may only be a moveset update away from players bringing Dark Type Mega Evolutions over Mega Gengar to boost their almighty Dark Type army. Overall, the future is bright, as we very well may see a light in the darkness someday!

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About the Author(s)

Gamepress Pokemon Go site lead with a focus on theorycrafting and gameplay optimization and a background in business management and freelance writing.  A bit of a hermit, but also an outdoors enthusiast who loves cycling and hiking. Long-time Gamepress fan who is very proud to be a part of the team.