Pokémon Go Legendary Pokémon have been hotly anticipated for some time, and are finally here.
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.
However, from summer 2017, things have changed, and following the huge Gym rework and the addition of Raids, have now seemed them appear as part of a release schedule over the summer, which we delve into later in the article along with our advice for how to battle and catch Legendaries, too.
How to catch Legendaries and how to unlock Legendary Raids in Pokémon Go
They're here at last! Ninatic has finally unlocked Legendary Pokémon Lugia, Articuno, and now Moltres in Pokémon Go following Pokémon Go Fest, albeit with some slight tweaks to the original plan, and Zapdos is set to follow.
Though they are similar to standard Raid Battles in many ways, there are several differences in both their appearance and capture:
- Legendaries will only be available via Legendary Raids, the highest difficulty of Raid Battle.
- While regular Raids appear at random, Legendary Raids appear for set periods of time, with the Legendary Birds debuting for one week at a time over summer 2017. You can read the full schedule below.
- Exclusive Raid Battles see certain Legendaries, such as MewTwo, require an invite before you can participate. To get an invite, you must beat a Raid Boss at that Gym before the Exclusive Raid timer runs down. According to their appearance at Pokémon Go Stadium in Japan, Exclusive Raid Battles appear to have much longer timers (lasting nine hours) and give attendees 50 Premier Balls to catch their creature. We'll know more when they debut worldwide, likely before the end of August.
- Legendary Raid Pokémon have the highest CP of any Raid creature, with Articuno at 37,603, Moltres at 41,953, Zapdos at 42,691, Lugia at 42,753 and MewTwo at a staggering 49,430.
- Once the battle is over, the Legendary still must be captured like any other Raid - we have tips on how to make this easier below.
- Once you have captured the Legendary, you cannot use it to defend Gyms - but they can of course attack them (in fact, Articuno makes a great counter to Lugia, for example).
- The Buddy Distance for Legendaries is 20km per one Candy - so we'd recommend using Rare Candy rewards from Raid battles as a way to easily power them up.
How to catch Legendary Pokémon
First, battling Legendaries. Living in major cities with gyms at popular landmarks will naturally attract players, and provided you can wait around, you should be able to get a group together in no time. Otherwise, joining Facebook or Discord groups for your town or area is a popular way to organise groups.
This will hopefully be solved when the 48 hour timer and Egg countdowns that Raids originally launched with return - giving players plenty of time to mobilise for when Legendaries appear.
In battle, you essentially want to field powerful Pokémon with strong opposing Types. We have overall Raid Battle and Raid counters advice, but for Legendaries, here are our specific recommendations:
|Legendary Pokémon||Counters||Recommended Trainers*||Specific Tips|
|Articuno||Omastar (Rock moves)|
|9+||Prioritise Rock-type attacks to be double-effective. When catching, wait for it to drop to the lowest of its two heights, where it's in easier range, then use the attack-animation technique mentioned below.|
|Moltres||Omastar (Rock moves)|
|6+||About the same difficulty as a Tyranitar Raid, due to low defenses. Prioritise Rock-type attacks to be double-effective. When catching, it doesn't move between two heights like Articuno, but has a smaller circle, so focus on using the attack-animation technique mentioned below.|
Piloswine (double Ice moves)
|6+||Weak against Ice and Rock, so once again Golem is great to bring with you. During the catch phase, Zapdos is closer but moves around a lot, but will return to the centre, which is the best time to throw - so hold steady and wait until then.|
|10+||Prioritise Dark, Rock, Ice and Electric-type attacks, but beware its water-type Hydro Pump! The toughest to beat, but a large circle for catching and minimal movement. Use attack-animation technique mentioned below.|
|10+||Prioritise Dark attacks if you have them, as well as powerful Psychics. Gengar can be useful but is also very fragile against the wrong moves and won't last long.|
* Recommended minimum number of trainers if all trainers are around Level 30, with a team of decent counters. Counters are suggested in order to provide a selection that's balanced between the highest damage Pokémon and Pokémon with good-to-high damage and survivability. Of course, any can be done with fewer with the perfect set-up - the latest, Zapdos, has been beaten with just three players.
In short, the better counters and more players you have, the more chance you'll have of taking the Legendary down, but you're not done there!
Like other Raid encounters, once a Legendary's defeated you have to then catch it. This is difficult seeing as, according to research available from Pokémon Go community The Silph Road, your chances are pretty slim.
- The base catch rate for Legendary Pokémon is currently 3% - meaning with no modifiers of any kind, throwing the ball straight, not using any berries and not even getting a "Nice" throw, you have a 1 in 33 chance of catching the Pokémon - not great odds.
- There are several ways of increasing your chances - Golden Razz Berries and Curveballs (when you spin the PokéBall before releasing your throw) drastically increase your chances, whilst Nice, Great, and Excellent throws increase those chances further respectively, and there's also a small bonus for having a Bronze, Silver, or Gold Medal (see more in our guide to Pokémon Go Catch Bonuses).
- A Golden Razz Berry, Curveball, and Excellent throw, with a Gold medal for that Legendary's Type, give you a 24% chance of catching the Legendary - meaning one in roughly four throws like this will catch it, which is much better considering the roughly 5-13 balls that will be available!
If that's not clear enough, here's a handy image, created by reddit user and Silph Road member Epimetheos:
With the above in mind, what can you do to increase your chances of catching Legendary Pokémon? It's recommended you:
- Attempt Curved and Nice, Great or Excellent throws (landing the ball in the centre of the circle - the smaller the better)
- Using a Golden Razz Berry between every catch attempt
- Level up as many relevant Catch Bonus medals as possible to Gold by catching wild creatures of the same Type
- As well as increasing the chances of individual throws, you want to have as many attempts as possible by earning more Premier Balls for the catch phase. One way is to target a Gym controlled by your team (which can be somewhat out of your control), and another is dealing a high amount of damage. It's worth noting your contribution is wiped out when your team faints, so you want to keep them alive for the entire fight, and one way of doing that is bring high defense tank creatures (Snorlax and Blissey) so you can absorb a lot of damage.
- Finally, you want to land as many Premier Balls you can. Legendaries and other high level Raid creatures attack very regularly, and since they are immune during these attacks, you can waste a lot of opportunities simply trying to land a single ball. While these attacks are random, there is a way to avoid them; by observing these attacks, and throwing the ball before the animation ends, the ball will land in the vulnerable window between attacks. This Silph Road thread discusses the practice in detail, as well as the following video from Mesa:
Legendary Pokémon release schedule - Moltres start and end date, when is Zapdos available in Pokémon, and when did Articuno end?
Right now, only Lugia and Moltres are available to capture from Raids, with Articuno's week-long stint now finished and the final of the Legendary Birds, Zapdos, set to arrive in the coming weeks. Here's what you need to know:
Legendary Pokémon release schedule dates and times:
|Legendary Pokémon||Available from||Available until||Catch Method|
|Articuno||Mon August 14th||Thur August 31st||Raid|
|Moltres||Mon August 14th
Thur August 31st
|Mon August 7th||Raid|
|Zapdos||Mon August 14th
Thur August 31st
|Mon August 14th||Raid|
|Mewtwo||Mon August 14th||???||Exclusive Raid|
|Lugia||Mon August 14th||Thur August 31st||Raid|
Based on when Legendary Birds went live, the Raid timing changeover happens simultaneously worldwide, at 10pm UK time, which translates to 2pm PST, or 5pm ET for those in the states.
The problem is, 10pm UK time is after the 'curfew' Niantic extends on Raids, which prevents Raids from appearing if they'll end after around 9pm that day. For example, during summer 2017, Moltres actually didn't spawn until the first Raids starting appearing on Tuesday 1st August, instead, and likewise meant Articuno was still around all day on Monday 31st.
Following the Legendary Birds and reveal of MewTwo, Niantic has said we can expect "other powerful Pokémon may also start to hatch from the Raid Eggs found at Exclusive Raid Battles over the next several weeks", suggesting more to come before the summer is out - possibly making their debut at the many events still to come.
There's also the possibility of the new Promo Codes feature coming into use - perhaps for the "Mythical" Pokémon like Mew and Celebi, which differ, technically, in the lore to the other Legendaries?
Or, they could be coming on this near-weekly schedule for the forseeable future, which would be a nice surprise!
What we already knew 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:
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.
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 the addition of promo codes. Elsewhere, read about Eevee evolutions, Egg hatching distance charts, best Pokémon tier lists, best moves and movesets and the XP chart. Plus, sice their release you can read everything we know about how to catch Legendary Pokémon like Articuno and Lugia, and all the others that are expected to be on their way.
The first Legendary Pokémon spotted in Pokémon Go - but how did it appear?
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
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.