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Pokémon Go's fourth anniversary celebrations unlock new species

And Flying Pikachu.

Pokémon Go is gearing up for its fourth anniversary with free weekly challenges and the release of fresh creatures, all leading up to the game's ticketed virtual Go Fest 2020 event in July.

Unova species Ducklett and Petilil will become available for the first time, alongside Flying Pikachu (a version of Pokémon's mascot kept aloft via balloons, which appeared on an early Pokémon card) plus the Shiny versions of Pidove and Bellsprout.

And, as previously announced, weekly Timed Research challenges unlock bonuses for those who buy a ticket to the upcoming Go Fest 2020 event, which this year is being held virtually so anyone can attend.

The event calendar begins next Friday, 3rd July. Ducklett and Flying Pikachu will become available via Timed Research themed around in-game skill, while wild spawns will feature Flying-type creatures (including the debut of Shiny Pidove) and various Pokémon wearing party hats.

Ho-oh will feature in raids over that weekend, and the game's Jump-Start Special Research will be unlocked again for any newbies yet to complete it.

This week's set of Timed Research lasts until the following Wednesday evening and unlocks the following Pokémon for Go Fest ticket holders during the event, should one million players of each in-game team complete it: Chimecho (Instinct), Alomomola (Mystic) and Chansey (Valor).

Week two begins on Friday 10th July and features a fresh set of Timed Research themed around battling, and includes a free Super Rocket Radar to tee you up for a fight with Rocket boss Giovanni. A Go Battle League mini-event also takes place on that Sunday, 12th July, with more details to follow.

This second week of challenges unlocks Ferroseed, Alolan Grimer and - for the first time in the wild - Alolan Marowak at Go Fest 2020 when completed by one million Instinct, Mystic and Valor players respectively.

Pokémon Go has been teasing the arrival of a familiar balloon via recent social media posts...

Finally, week three starts on Friday, 17th July and features Timed Research themed around friendship. Petitlil becomes available for the first time via this research, and also in the wild. Bellsprout will be available Shiny for the first time, and Summer Pikachu will be re-released.

The third week of challenges unlocks Togetic, Dratini and Litwick at Go Fest 2020 once one million Instinct, Mystic and Valor trainers respectively complete it.

Each of the three Timed Research questlines also unlocks a tougher Elite version once completed, though we're still to hear more on what that might entail.

Today's announcement concluded with a repeat of an earlier curious tease: "Until we can all meet again in the same park and under the same sky..." which fans think points to the land and sky versions of Mythical Pokémon Shaymin being released at Go Fest 2020.

Pokémon Go developer Nianic has separately teased the release of Unova Mythical Victini and the launch of Mega Pokémon later this year. (I have asked Niantic which Mythical might see release at Go Fest 2020... but it is being kept under wraps for now.)

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