With the arrival of Team Rocket in Pokemon Go, the huge mobile game is changing once again - and one new element that's arrived alongside the villainous team are Shadow Pokemon and, after some trainer effort, Purified Pokemon.
Shadow Pokemon are a special new addition to Pokemon Go, though they have appeared in other Pokemon games before. They appear as part of the Team Rocket Pokestop invasions where Rocket Grunts turn Pokestops into Rocket Stops. In order to encounter Shadow Pokemon you'll first need to find a Team Rocket Grunt - more information on that in the link above.
How to catch Shadow Pokemon in Pokemon Go
After finding yourself an invaded Rocket Pokestop, you'll be able to battle the nearby Team Rocket Grunt NPC. These grunts will deploy red-eyed Shadow Pokemon against you in battle. After a battle is complete, you'll get a chance to catch one of the Rocket Grunt's Shadow Pokemon - exactly which is plucked from the table of available Shadow Pokemon in the game, which you can find a little below.
The number of Premier Balls you have to catch the Shadow Pokemon will be determined by your battle performance - like with Pokemon Gym Raid Bosses, but in a single-player, player-versus-enemy setting. The Premier Ball allowance is determined by how many Pokemon are still conscious on your team at the end of battle and by some of your medal levels.
These are the Pokemon you can currently encounter in Shadow form:
Pokemon Go Shadow Battle Counters & Weaknesses
When the time comes to fight Shadow Pokemon and Rocket Grunts, there's a few Shadow Pokemon you can encounter that form high-end, raid-like boss encounters - Snorlax, Dragonite, Blastoise, Charizard and Venusaur.
As with Pokemon Go Raid bosses, the best thing to be aware of are the counters and weaknesses for fighting these Shadow Pokemon so you can exploit their type strengths and weaknesses with your best Pokemon and defeat them quickly and efficiently. With that in mind, here are some notes for each...
Shadow Snorlax Counters & Weakness
Snorlax is a normal-type Pokemon, which tends to be quite easy to defeat in general - but the Shadow version of this guy is no joke. It can take some serious punishment, soaking up the damage like it's nothing. We suggest the following counters:
- Mewtwo with moves like Psycho Cut and Focus Blast
- Weavile with Ice Shard and Focus Blast
- Tyranitar with some combination of Smack Down, Crunch or Stone Edge
- Metagross is great with Psychic, Bullet Punch or Meteor Mash
- Lucario is a great fighting-type counter with Counter and Close Combat thanks to its steel-type giving it some damage resistance
Shadow Dragonite Counters & Weakness
Dragonite presents you with the classic dragon-type Pokemon weakness conundrum - it's dragon is weak to dragon, so the best way to down it is to bring along another dragon-type... but then that will also be twice as vulnerable to Dragonite's attacks. It's also weak to Ice, however. Here's some strong counters to Shadow Dragonite of both the dragon-type and otherwise...
- Mewtwo with Psycho Cut and Ice Beam
- Lapras with Ice Shard and Ice Beam
- Mamoswine with any ice-type moves
- Weavile with any ice-type moves
- Gyarados with Dragon Tail and Outrage
- Articuno with Ice Shard and Icy Wind
Shadow Vensaur Counters & Weakness
Venusaur is primarily grass-type (with a side of poison), and so taking down its shadow version is best done with a healthy dose of fire. Here's some counter suggestions:
- There's a number of useful fire-type legendary Pokemon that are effective counters if you have them: Moltres, Ho-Oh and Entei are all viable counters
- Charizard with Fire Spin and Blast Burn
- Dragonite with Dragon Tail and Outrage doesn't exploit a weakness but is a great base-line damage dealer
- Heatran with Fire Spin & Stone Edge
Shadow Charizard Counters & Weakness
As a joint Fire and flying-type Pokemon, Charizard has some solid weaknesses that can be exploited as counters for this battle - so despite its power, it's one of the easier high-end Shadow Pokemon to take down right now. It's all about the water and rock types...
- Tyranitar is one of the best rock-type Pokemon in the game, so it's a natural fit and is a top-tier response here.
- Legendary water Pokemon Kyogre is also a stunner here, if you have it.
- Omastar with Rock Slide and Mud Shot can be very effective here
- Likewise for Kabutops with Mud Show and Ancient Power
Shadow Blastoise counters & Weakness
Countering water-type shadow Pokemon is all about bringing out the powerful grass-type beasts. Thunder can work great too, but for our money grass is where it's at, especially considering a water-type shadow encounter has a chance to be Marshtomp, which will resist Thunder. Here's some of our Shadow Blastoise counter suggestions...
- The top-tier Grass-type Pokemon Roserade and Sceptile are great here.
- Venusaur can also be effective - never underestimate a mirror match
- Leafeon is a stronger Eevee Evolution than many thing, and is well worth a look
- If you must go electric, go legendary: Zapdos, Raioku, etcetera
Purifying Shadow Pokemon to make powerful Purified Pokemon with the exclusive Return move
Once you've caught a Shadow Pokemon, it'll be added to your Pokemon roster like any other catch, but it will retain its shadowy nature, keeping the red eyes and the nasty purple cloud around it. Shadow Pokemon will also have the charged normal-type move Frustration, which is a fine move and all but also not as useful as any of the more specific moves it could have. Other than that, Shadow Pokemon act and function like any other.
The good news is that you can cure that shadowy evil presence with a few simple steps - and this is known and Purifying Pokemon. You can do this from a Pokemon's profile page, and purifying a Pokemon will cost a small amount of candy and stardust.
Purified Pokemon function like any other Pokemon, but thanks to their cute little redemption arc from being beholden to Team Rocket they have some powerful bonuses which could be significant if we get Shadow and Purified versions of some of the Best Pokemon in Pokemon Go:
- Purified Pokemon will by default have the normal-type charge move Return - and this move is entirely exclusive to Purified Pokemon. They'll hold on to this move even through evolution, though it can be removed with TMs.
- Purified Pokemon will get +2 to all of its Individual Values, the base stats that determine a Pokemon's power and strength.
- Purified Pokemon have a discount to the Stardust and Candy costs associated with powering up. This bonus stacks with those of Lucky Pokemon.
- Purified Pokemon also get a discount on the cost of their 2nd charge move for PVP battles.