The Update to Mega Evolution: A Review

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On October 15, 2020, Niantic announced some new changes to the nearly universally maligned Mega Evolution system:

  • Mega Evolutions now last twice as long, now lasting for a total of eight hours once Mega Evolved.
  • The Mega Energy cap per species has been raised from 999 to 2,000

So outright, this is objectively good. Niantic is starting to address our issues with Mega Evolution. But just how much of the issue does this actually address? Let's take a look at these two effects individually and see just what has truly changed:

Mega Evolution Duration

The eight hour Mega Evolution duration. Beedrill is one of my favorite Pokemon, and this is my favorite Beedrill.

The increase from 4 hours to 8 hours is definitely... something. One of the largest issues that most players have with the Mega Evolution system is the fact that we're simply "renting" Mega Pokemon. They have no viable duration. This addresses this issue.... but does it really?

Let's take a look at the actual use of Mega Evolutions. 99% of the time, players use them for one single reason: Raids. They can't be used in Go Battle League, they're overkill for gym attacking/can't defend, and while having them walk around with us is fun, it's ultimately not useful. So the absolute best use of the investment of Mega Energy is to help take down raids; a job that most Mega Evolutions are undeniably great at. So here's a question on that front:

When was the last time that you spent over 4 hours in a day raiding?

Outside of raid days, 90% of us probably haven't done this in the past year. The majority of players seem to be adults/young adults who squeeze in raids and other forms of gameplay whenever they can. Spending four full hours on raids (an activity that takes money to partake in more than once per day [twice if you save a free pass]) is just out of the question. So what else is there? Some people may see utility in this for hitting raids before and after work or school, but that's one of the few real applications. Well, we do have the datamined "catches give additional candy if the Pokemon has the same type as your current Mega Evolved Pokemon" effect, but that isn't active yet. 

Catch results for a Vulpix that I caught while my Mega Charizard Y was active. This was my first time Mega Evolving my Charizard, and I did it just for this. RIP my mega boycott.

So when it comes right down to it, this bonus is meaningless. 98% of the playerbase will not see a real use for the additional time for at least a year, and even then it's likely to be a very niche situation. It could be great for prolonged PvP tournaments at some point (I have too much faith in the Silph Arena to say that they'd do this any time soon), but even then the cost of Mega Evolution makes that concept generally unviable.

Mega Energy Storage

The 2,000 Mega Energy cap. I maxed my personal Beedrill, Hornet, despite my disdain for the current mega Evolution system. Despite it all; no regrets.

Another issue that people have had is the Mega Energy cap. At 70 energy per raid, players could max out their Mega Energy storage for a given species after a mere 14 raids. This encouraged players who chose to play into the system to use their Mega Evolutions rather than just hoard energy forever.

But let's be honest again: how many of us have hit this cap?

The general consensus is that the current Mega Evolution System=bad, and many players are still actively avoiding Mega Raids on the principle of the situation alone. Others simply want to collect enough Mega Energy to get the dex entry, and then have enough for 1-2 further Mega Evolutions beyond that just in case. This is a theoretical issue at most that's held back from actually being an issue at all by the plethora of other problems with this system. Sure, it's nice to know that I can go out and stockpile huge amounts of Mega Energy now, but my personal refusal to take part in any Mega Raids outside of helping friends on a rare occasion means that I won't.

The Real Issues

The Gamepress team has covered the issues with Mega Evolution extensively, and has made what I consider to be a number of outstanding points. I recommend that you take a look at the articles written by TForgery and NoLucksGiven on the subject:

But suffice to say this much; these changes are indeed good news. They show that Niantic is at least starting to work on the Mega Evolution system, but this set of changes is like putting a bandaid on a cobra bite; it covers the cosmetic damage, but it does nothing to fix the real problem.

  • The only farmable/reliable way to obtain Mega Energy is via Mega Raids, and Mega Raids cannot be reliably soloed
  • If a Mega Evolution leaves the raid pool in the future, its Mega Energy will become basically unobtainable for however long it's missing
  • We have no farmable/reliable way to obtain Mega Energy in solo play 

These are the basic problems, and they need to be addressed to at least some degree before we can truly enjoy the Mega Evolution system. As of right now, the only Pokemon that has been handled well via the Mega Evolution system has been Mega Beedrill.

I Mega Evolved Hornet and replaced my Mega Charizard Y just to get this screenshot. No regrets.

One fact that needs to be addressed is this: Niantic is not going to just give us Mega Evolution for free. Niantic is a company, Pokemon Go is one of their products, and they likely spent a lot between programming and licensing to make it work in Pokemon Go. They want a return on investment, and the main reason that it's taking so long for them to fix it is likely due to the fact that they're trying to figure out a point where the Pokemon Go community will stop outright hating the system, yet they can still recoup at least some of their investment. Like it or not, this is reasonable. Niantic doesn't run this game out of the kindness of their heart; they expect to make a profit. However, they have gone way too far with this, and have come across as downright greedy.

What to Expect:

In my estimation, continued changes to Mega Evolution will take one of two forms, and possibly both at the same time:

  1. Trickle Mega Energy from activities
  2. Initial Mega Energy will need to be farmed from raids in order to allow a given Pokemon to Mega Evolve more down the line

The name of the game is to give us an inconvenience, and then sell the solution. This is likely not going to change any time soon, but it's a matter of how much of an inconvenience we're willing to put up with as a community. Either way, here's hoping that we get a better Mega Energy system before Mega Gengar drops later this month!

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About the Author(s)

Gamepress writer with a focus on theorycrafting and gameplay optimization with 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.