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

Submit Feedback or Error

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 has traditionally been known as the TDO option to match the DPS of its primary rival type: Ghost. However, this fact changed in June 2023 when Tyranitar and Shadow Tyranitar were given access to Brutal Swing. With this change, Shadow Tyranitar was launched to the top of the type, to the point where it curb-stomps even the Ghosts that used to cackle at it from the dead of night. Meanwhile, Mega Tyranitar would also release not long after, sky-rocketing to the title of "general best Dark Type Mega Evolution" thanks to Brutal Swing. For the time being, this is a Pokemon with huge power that centralizes the Dark meta can even compete with the over-powered Mega Gengar. Aside from the hugely powerful elephant in the room, Dark is a good-but-not-great type. It's a bit under-powered compared to Ghosts, but is still good for its previously cited defensive profile.

For Mega Evolutions, Dark Types lean kind of heavily on Mega Tyranitar and its tremendous, Brutal Swing-fueled power. Other options like Mega Houndoom, Mega Absol, and even Mega Gyarados can put in great work, but in general it's probably best to just default back to Mega Gengar if you're not packing Mega Tyranitar.

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**
    • Incineroar
  • 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, 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. 

The Existing Threats

Pokemon in this section have already been released into Pokemon Go, but their future is still bright. Due to moveset updates or other bonuses, they have the potential to rise on the list to varying degrees.

Note that we may treat select unreleased Mega Evolutions and alternate formes as Existing Threats, where applicable, due to their base-formes already existing in-game.

  • 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. It traditionally sat around Shadow Tyranitar's performance before Brutal Swing raised the tyrant to whole new levels, so it's pretty likely that Dark Void could raise Darkrai back to a similar position in the future.

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

In this section strictly due to the fact that we already have Greninja, this over-powered variant of the monster has the potential to be really good. However, the fact that the Pokemon franchise has been drifting away from Ash Ketchum could mean that Ash Greninja may be left as nothing more than a relic of the Sun/Moon days.

  • Current Moveset: Bite + Dark Pulse
  • Best Possible Moveset: Snarl + Brutal Swing

Zarude is a bit of a funny Pokemon. It's pretty easily overlooked as an oddball Mythical Pokemon, but it's actually got solid DPS and a fair bit of TDO to make it a great middle-of-the-road attacker. Adding to its current power with a mix of Snarl and Brutal Swing makes it substantially better, and gives it brand new opportunities for the future to be a really good Dark Type attacker.

  • Current Moveset: Snarl + Dark Pulse
  • Best Possible Moveset: Snarl + Brutal Swing

While it sits in a pretty mediocre position right now, Incineroar actually has some real potential for the future. Not only does it have a powerful potential Charged Move in Brutal Swing, it also has a signature move by the name of Darkest Lariat. If Incineroar is given the Greninja treatment and is given Brutal Swing as a Charged Move and Darkest Lariat as a powerful Signature Move, then it could very well be a major contender in the Dark meta.

The Future Threats

These are the Pokemon that we don't currently have in-game, but have the potential to join our Top Attackers by Type list if Niantic does them justice. Note that this list won't necessarily order Pokemon according to their potential, as we will take likelihood of a good implementation into consideration as well.

  • Best Possible Moveset: Snarl + Foul Play

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

If given its best possible moveset, Chi-Yu is admittedly pretty underwhelming, sitting around Shadow Cacturne. The reason that it's on this 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

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

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: Snarl + Dark Pulse

All of the points made for Chi-Yu apply here... but to a slightly lesser degree due to its slightly lower Attack stat. As-is it's basically a slightly worse Weavile if given its best possible moveset. However, Like Chi-Yu, its future depends heavily on Ruination. At that point it can rival Chi-Yu given the ideal moveset, though its Ice sub-typing does it no real favors.

  • Best Possible Moveset: Sucker Punch + Dark Pulse

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 + Foul Play

Arceus actually has some 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.

  • 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. If not, it'll be good, but a bit mediocre.

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

When this article was initially written, the beginning of this section was something of kin to 
"Dark is a good type, but it will likely never be able to rival the sheer power of Ghost Types and Mega Gengar". Well, we're finally to the point now where Dark actually can rival the top Ghosts, and potentially even surpass them in several situations. This just goes to show that you can never fully rule out our existing Pokemon and their potential for the future.

Right now, Dark Types sit in a very comfortable position. They not only have DPS to rival the top ghosts, but huge TDO to back it up against the types that they counter. The main issue with the type right now is the abject lack of diversity, as the Tyranitar family kind of rules with an iron fist, meaning Dark will tend to fall off pretty hard if a target raid boss happens to be packing a Fighting Type move.

Enjoyed the article?
Consider supporting GamePress and the author of this article by joining GamePress Boost!

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.