Over the weekend, you might have heard that Pokémon Go's gyms are shutting down for some temporary, and also mysterious, behind-the-scenes action. Now we know why: revamped gyms and a new co-op Battle Raid mode are on the way.
Upgraded gyms will begin rolling out today, and the bevy of new gym-shaped features, according to The Pokémon Company, are designed to "make ownership more collaborative and to encourage all players to visit friendly gyms and engage with them in new ways".
Once the update lands, all gyms will receive "spinnable Photo Discs" which apparently function like PokéStops, enabling visitors to receive unique items. It also introduces special new Gym Badges which can be levelled up during play to earn better rewards and bonus items whenever you visit Gyms.
Pokemon Go's Gym battle system is getting an overhaul too. Gyms will now feature six permanent slots for the controlling team's Pokémon, and challengers will need to battle them all in order. This change is paired with a new 'motivation' system which potentially makes it easier for opposing teams to gain control of Gyms, while encouraging return visits from defending teams.
Here's how it works: Defending Pokémon lose motivation over time (and as they're defeated), which in turn reduces their Combat Power. Weaker Pokémon give challengers a greater chance of seizing occupied gyms—although defending teams can restore motivation by visiting Gyms and feeding berries to their Pokémon.
That's not the end of the new additions, however; over the next few weeks, Pokémon Go will introduce co-operative Raid Battles which let you to team up with nearby Trainers in order to defeat extra-powerful Pokémon known as Raid Bosses.
Raid Battles are apparently timed in-game events which will temporarily take over a Gym, giving players the chance to win special items and to catch the Raid Boss Pokémon. Private Raid groups are also available, if you'd rather take on Raid Bosses with specific friends.