Pokemon Go: The end of legendary research breakthrough rewards?

Paul Cot

Catching legendary Pokemon as part of earning a research breakthrough reward has been a stable of Pokemon Go for a long time now. Is getting a coveted legend in exchange for seven field research stamps a thing of the past, though?

It has become an expectation of most Pokemon Go trainers – collect seven stamps and earn yourself an encounter with a legendary Pokemon. Over the months, these ranged from the legendary Kanto birds, the Johto dogs and most recently two of the weather trio.

Flower Crown Eevee a sign of things to come?

It all started with Moltres in April 2018, and with the exception of Shedinja and Flower Crown Eevee since, has been nothing but other legends. While Shedinja was welcomed as a research breakthrough, presumably due to its popularity, Flower Crown Eevee was not.

Flower Crown Eevee
Safe to say Flower Crown Eevee wasn’t the most popular decision…

As iconic as it might be, trainers didn’t appreciate having to earn stamps in order to get a Pokemon that has been frequently seen in the Pokemon Go wild. The flower was seen as nothing more than a cosmetic and trainers weren’t shy to share their feelings on Flower Crown Eevee.

A whole host of legends – Articuno, Zapdos, Moltres, Kyogre and Groudon – featured in the two months following but should this have been a sign of things to come?

Can’t just give away legendary Pokemon

Legendary Pokemon are supposed to be rare. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be so legendary, would they? That is where Niantic made a problem for themselves.

By making nearly every legend from Gen 1 to Gen 3 available as a research breakthrough reward, they have become too common. No longer are they the valuable Pokemon they were in the mainline games.

Articuno Zapdos Moltres Lugia
Articuno, Zapdos, Moltres and Lugia have all featured as research breakthrough encounters…

These legends were essentially given away on a weekly basis. Pokemon Go trainers know they can all but guarantee themselves a research breakthrough reward by completing simple field research tasks. Hatch an egg, catch 10 Pokemon, throw three great Curveballs – do something like this once a day for seven and you have yourself a legend.

Niantic may have realized their mistake and are consequently trying to transition to ‘lesser’ Pokemon. Perhaps Flower Crown Eevee was a tester. Due to the reaction of it, however, maybe they have had to go down a different route.

Special moves

That route might be bringing in popular Pokemon with special and powerful moves. The January research breakthrough encounter is Lapras that knows Ice Shard and Ice Beam.

These are not only two moves that are more powerful than its usual moveset, but classic ones from yesteryear that players can enjoy. This special Lapsas might just be a taste of what’s to come in February 2020 and beyond.

There’s no doubt a lack of legends will divide opinion among Pokemon Go trainers. If Niantic are to go down this alternative route, though, it’s an understandable decision.

If they do, it will be interesting to see which other Pokemon are selected in the same vein Lapras was. One that comes to mind is legacy Gengar with the iconic Shadow Claw legacy move.

What about a super research breakthrough encounter?

If the current system is making it too easy to obtain legendary Pokemon and there isn’t enough interest in the new encounter, such as Lapras, then how about an extra special super research breakthrough encounter?

In hindsight, seven days might be too short of a time to earn a research breakthrough reward. This could easily be changed to 14, 28 or even 30 in order to justify the reward.

Also, the legendary Pokemon you can get from research breakthroughs tend to be in a CP range that isn’t useful to you, unless you’re just trying to complete your Pokedex. 30 days’ worth of stamps could give you the chance of an encounter with a more powerful version, justifying those 30 days of stamps.

We’ll have to wait and see how Niantic uses the research breakthrough feature throughout 2020. Early stages indicate changes are coming though, and that ‘easy’ legendary Pokemon may be a thing of the past.