Abilities. The fabled nuance that separates the wheat from the chaff, brings tears of joy and sadness and creates another facet of insanity for Pokémon collectors.
If you haven’t played the Generation III (and future) main series games, you’re probably very confused by now. Let us explain.
Abilities are a new game mechanic introduced in Gen III that provides a passive battle effect for your Pokémon. Abilities are an interesting twist on the usual rock-paper-scissors combat system found in Pokémon games, as they create sensible and palpable variation between different Pokémon from the same family.
However, not all Abilities are beneficial – some will actually make your Pokémon weaker than before.
For example, this is a typical Pokémon Ability:
Intimidate – the Pokémon intimidates opposing Pokémon upon entering battle, lowering their Attack stat.
As you can see, it’s just a passive effect – nothing more, nothing less and that is exactly the thing that makes it so exciting! If you think about it, a passive ability like Intimidate would fit perfectly with the Pokémon GO damage formula, which uses the ATK stat (and IV) of the attacker to determine the damage output of it’s moves.
Of course, the main series’ feature complex abilities that can change weather, consume Berries, change status effects, etc. However, there are a number of simplistic abilities that can be taken directly from the core games, without having to implement complex game play mechanisms.
How Abilities could change (and improve) Pokémon GO as a whole
Players who are not very experienced with using and collecting good abilities tend to lack the understanding on their potential. There are several incredibly powerful abilities that can completely change the damage and survival potential of your Pokémon.
For example, consider Levitate, an ability that gives full immunity to all ground type moves. Or Wonder Guard, Shedinja’s signature ability, which makes the user immune to direct damage moves that are not super effect.
If you think about it, these little nuances fare well in a turn based and in a real time combat system. They also allow for far deeper meta discussion, creating strategies and synergies that are not possible at the moment.
Moreover, the introduction of Abilities would essentially revamp your complete Pokémon storage, as each one of those low IV catches could be holding a really useful ability, making it much more exciting to collect Pokémon, build a strong team and (eventually) trade.
In addition, abilities resolve problems similar to Slaking’s Combat Power (5441). Slaking’s signature ability is called Truant, which prohibits him from attacking every second turn. In GO, it would likely result in reduced energy gain or super slow attack speed for every second quick attack.
The case for abilities
Gen III will introduce a LOT of new Pokémon, up to PokéDex number #386. Unless abilities are introduced, we don’t see how these new additions will be different from the Pokémon we already got.
Sure, they will feature a new 3D model, a new PokéDex number to collect, new CP values and a few new moves, but without abilities they are still the same as the ones we had before – just re-skinned!
Gen II introduced Evolution Items and split evolution. We really hope that Gen III will introduce Abilities, making GO a collectors dream (or a nightmare, depends on your point of view) and laying a solid mechanical foundation for future PvP and Trade systems.