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Pokémon Go Legendary Pokémon - How catching Articuno, Zapdos, Moltres, dogs Raikou, Entei, Suicune and legendaries Mewtwo, Mew, Lugia, Ho-oh and Celebi with a Legendary Raid Pass will work

We finally know how you'll get hold of them.

Pokémon Go Legendary Pokémon have been hotly anticipated for some time, and finally they're on their way.

Fans of the classic games will remember them fondly - from the flying trio Articuno, Zapdos, Moltres to the elusive Mewtwo and Mew in Red, Blue and Yellow, as well as Gen 2's Gold, Silver and Crystal, Legendary dogs Raikou, Entei, Suicune and final Pokédex entries Lugia, Ho-oh and Celebi.

These are the game's rarest creatures, and despite many teases and leaks, to date no one has been able to locate them within Pokémon Go (though one did appear unofficially).

However, from summer 2017, things have changed, and following the huge Gym rework and the addition of Raids, we'll now seem them appearing around the world.

How Legendaries work and how to unlock Legendaries in Pokémon Go

They're here at last! Ninatic has finally confirmed the arrival of Legendary Pokémon to Pokémon Go, and there's a very specific way you'll be able to get them.

Legendaries will be available via Legendary Raids, a particuar kind of Raid Battle that is only unlocked if players complete a set of challenges in the coming days, which tie in with the Pokémon Go Fest in Chicago.

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Gen 2 Legendaries Ho-Oh and Lugia, who feature in the Legendaries trailer.

Here's how it works:

  • Two challenges will be going on at the same time during Pokémon Go Fest Chicago - a local challenge, and a global one. These both occur during the same time slots (our Pokémon Go Fest guide has details on dates and times for that, along with much more).
  • The local challenge tasks players out in Chicago's Grant Park with catching Pokémon of a certain type - doing so successfully (presumably by catching a certain number of them in total) will unlock in-game bonuses, like bonus XP, Candy, or Stardust for all players worldwide, but this doesn't affect Legendaries.
  • The global challenge, however, affects Legendaries. Players worldwide will need to catch a certain number of Pokémon (that number is currently unknown) to reach different tiers of rewards.
  • The top tier unlocks another challenge back in Chicago that evening.
  • That challenge is a Legendary Raid - if the players out in Chicago beat the Legendary Pokémon, and presumably succeed in catching it too, then Legendary Raids will be unlocked for the rest of the world.

What elso do we know about how Legendaries work? Well, they won't be able to defend gyms, with Niantic specifying that they can only be used to attack them, and Raids, whilst remaining by your side - which is probably best for balance.

How will Legendary Raids work and how to get Legendary Raid Passes in Pokémon Go

Believe it or not, even at this late stage information is still pretty thin in terms of the exact Legendary Raid mechanics.

Thankfully, Tom's hands-on and additional community datamines can give us a little extra info until we know more:

  • Legendary Raid passes are believed to be earned as a rare item drop, from taking part in and defeating potentially hundreds of Raid Battles.
  • Then, a special Legendary Egg will appear over a Gym when a Legendary Raid goes live.
  • It seems from the trailer that you'll have 48 hours to get a squad together and plan before the Legendary Raid itself begins.
  • There are mixed signals on whether or not it's possible to miss out on the Legendary after defeating it in the Raid - in the trailer, it seems like everyone catches the Pokémon just by winning the battle, with no Pokéball-throwing shown - but then Niantic's wording is that "players will have the opportunity" to catch one of their own. Hmm!

You can learn everything else we know about Raids in general in our Pokémon Go Raids and Raid Bosses guide, with Legendary Raids seemingly operating in much the same way, aside from those differences above.

What we know about Legendary Pokémon Mewtwo, Mew, Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres, as well as Raikou, Entei, Suicune, Lugia, Ho-oh and Celebi in Pokémon Go

Before we even heard their presence was confirmed in the big Gym rework, we already knew the various Legendaries were in the game.

That's thanks to some good old-fashioned datamining. NesstendoYT on YouTube was one major player, who dug through the game's files to discover that the above first generation Legendary Pokémon are indeed listed in the game:

Their absence in the game led to plenty of speculation, particularly with one of the strongest and most famous Legendary Pokémon - Mewtwo - being the focus of one of the game's first trailers, showing crowds of people teaming up to fight it, whittling down its health as a timer ticks down before capturing the Pokémon in a packed Times Square, suggesting that Mewtwo and other Legendaries could be unlocked through public events rather than random encounters.

That's since been confirmed of course - but it's interesting Mewtwo pops up again at the end of the trailer... maybe that's the Legendary Raid that needs to be tackled in Chicago?

As for Gen 2's Raikou, Entei, Suicune, Lugia, Ho-oh and Celebi, they've appeared in datamining efforts, too, with their stats showing up alongside the likes of the birds, Mew and Mewtwo.

These stats reveal them to be among the best Pokémon in our Pokémon Go tier list, with Mewtwo and Ho-Oh having some of the highest base attacks in the game, more so than existing creatures Alakazam and Dragonite.

The datamine also revealed that these creatures have no capture rate at all, so perhaps that lends itself to the theory that Legendaries will automatically be caught after defeating them in a Legendary Raid?

The history of Legendaries in Pokémon Go

We knew for some time that Legendaries were coming, but what's the story, and how did we get to this point?

When did we think Legendaries were coming? The Legendary teases:

In an interview with Wired Germany (via Den of Geek, Niantic CEO John Hanke said "with certainty that we will see [legendaries] more this year" - so that at least narrowed it down to 2017!

The biggest suggestion to date came from a five word acceptance speech from Niantic during the 21st Annual Webby Awards: "This summer will be legendary", a heavy hint we were set to see something soon:

That seemed to have been corroborated by the latest trickle of information, where Niantic suggested that "Legendary Pokémon and battles between players" were set to arrive some time this summer.

Whether this was going to happen at the same time as the implementation of the new Raids feature or a little while after was unknown, although things certainly did at least appear to be tying together quite nicely at that point.

Pokémon Go tips and tricks UPDATE: Huge Gym revamp and Raids explained, and how Legendaries will work. Pokémon Go tips and tricks

Want more help with Pokémon Go? As well as our Pokémon Go tips, tricks and guides page, you can look up the Gen 2 Pokédex on how to catch the most recent creatures, including those requiring Special Items such as the Dragon Scale. We also explain the recent Gym rework, how to get PokéCoins, Raids, Raid Battles, and Raid Bosses, and what we know about Legendary Pokémon and promo codes. Elsewhere, read about Eevee evolutions, Egg hatching distance charts, best Pokémon tier lists, best moves and movesets and the XP chart. Plus, you can read everything we know about the upcoming Pokémon Go Fest in Chicago, including Mystery Challenge Times and other events.

The first Legendary Pokémon spotted in Pokémon Go - but how did it appear?

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Back in early August of 2016, before any of this official news was even close to being announced, a player topped a Gym in Ohio with an Articuno, which is said to be the first Legendary appearance in the game. Multiple players verified the sighting, but how the player got the creature is in question. Amazingly, the owner claimed she received the Pokémon as part of an apology from developer Niantic after contacting them via email about an issue.

Other possibilities could be an exploit that has edited the creature's data to appear in the game, an error that has seen one spawn accidentally, or a glitch turn another Pokemon into the famed Legendary, similar to a case reported by a user who had their wild Caterpie transform into a Charizard once in their possession.

What else we know about Legendary Pokémon in Pokémon Go

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Finally, it's also worth pointing out - for history's sake, at the very least - that all this time there's been a hunt of Legendary Pokémon in plain sight, with users who have progressed to level 5 and interacted with a gym find themselves invited to one of three teams - Team Instinct, Team Mystic, or Team Valor - which are shown to be tied to Zapdos, Articuno and Moltres respectively. Could participating in teams play a part in how you unlock these particular Pokémon? It could still be the case that those Legendary Birds are tied to special Team-specific Raids at some point down the line.

The addition of Pokémon Go's Buddy system also paves the way for players to earn Candy and power up rare creatures without the need to catch any more - perfect for ultra rare Pokémon such as Legendaries. Meanwhile, the eventual arrival of Ditto - which was just as elusive as the Legendaries for sometime - is at least a sign that Niantic have been slowly working their way towards introducing all of the game's missing Pokémon.

In the meantime, an upcoming update will introduce Pokémon trading to help flesh out the gaps in your Pokédex, and our Pokémon Go guide, tips and tricks page to pick up a few pointers you might not know.

Additional reporting by Chris Tapsell.

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