With the latest wave of Sinnoh in recent memory and several of its Legendary and Mythic Pokemon still in our future, Niantic is once again proving its dedication to moving the game that we love even farther as we prepare for the release of Pokemon from Generation 5, the Unova Region. With the first wave already out, Niantic has added the movesets to every Pokemon from the region, giving us our first road-map into the coming year and what it may hold. Who are the winners, and who are the losers in this new update? Based on the current data, we’ve compiled a list of the stand-out Pokemon for the generation, regardless of if they’re exciting new additions, or disappointments unworthy of a raid slot.
Disclaimer: Moveset changes can happen and have happened pre-release several times! While these are the movesets according to the game’s Master file as it sits right now, it is entirely possible that these movesets could change.
Quick Moves: Dragon Tail, Shadow Claw
Charge Moves: Iron Head, Blizzard, Stone Edge, Outrage
Kyurem-Black received virtually everything that it could have possibly hoped for in this update, somehow obtaining the sheer power that many of us wouldn’t dare hope for. Kyurem - Black is well on course to being the strongest Dragon-type attacker in the entire game, but it does have a few downsides when compared to its Draconic brothers. The first is its Ice sub-typing, which grants it a few weaknesses, removes a few strengths, and only neutralizes its Dragon-type weakness to Ice-type attacks. The second is the fact that, in the main series, Kyurem-Black is a fused Pokemon consisting of both Kyurem and Zekrom, and each player is only able to create one Kyurem fusion per game: either Black or White. This effect could translate into a one-per-game scenario similar to what we have with Mythic Pokemon currently. It also could not receive any of the current Ice-type Quick Moves in the game, meaning it wasn’t able to dethrone Mamoswine from its frozen throne. Either way, Kyurem - Black’s DPS nears that of Deoxys-A with this moveset and it has very good bulk to boot, meaning it will become an absolute must-have for any player when it is finally released to the title of “Best Overall Pokemon in the Game”.
Update: Since writing this article, Mewtwo has been given its signature move, Psystrike, putting it easily on a par with Kyurem-Black, which makes Kyurem-Black's assumed title of "Best Overall Pokemon in the Game" less assured.
Quick Moves: Dragon Breath, Charge Beam
Charge Moves: Outrage, Wild Charge, Flash Cannon, Crunch
Zekrom is another Legendary Pokemon that’s long been talked about in the Pokemon Go community for its massive potential. However, many were afraid that it would not live up to its potential due to a bad moveset. Fortunately, these fears have now been laid to rest. With the remarkably powerful Wild Charge combined with Charge Beam, which is the only Electric-type Quick Move that Zekrom could have learned, the Deep Black Pokemon has obtained Electric-type DPS that surpasses even Deoxys-Normal, and the TDO to blow any competition out of the water. When combined with Electric, Zekrom’s Dragon typing is a bit of a double-edged sword: it is the first major Electric-type that resists Water in particular, but it also gains a weakness to Ice, which puts its resistance profile a bit closer to Grass-types in that regard. On top of all of this, Zekrom can also pull double-duty as a Dragon-type attacker, sporting power roughly on a par with Palkia. It’s not the best Pokemon in this capacity and serves best as an Electric attacker, but its unique resistances and high power could allow it to shore up a Dragon team nicely.
Special Note: Kyurem Black is made from a fusion of Kyurem and Zekrom in the main series. While we don’t have any evidence to support that being the case in Go, catching a few Zekrom should be a priority on its release if only for that fact.
Quick Moves: Dragon Breath, Fire Fang
Charge Moves: Crunch, Overheat, Draco Meteor, Stone Edge
Much like its brother, Zekrom, Reshiram is set to take the game by storm. It was blessed with its best possible Fire-type moveset and will burn brighter than any previous Fire-type that we’ve ever seen. That said, Reshiram’s position in the meta is actually a tiny bit weaker than Zekrom. The Fire-type has several outstanding Pokemon in it and several more that will rise around the same time as Reshiram. On top of this, Overheat doesn’t stand out from other Fire-type moves to quite the same degree that Wild Charge does from other Electric-type moves. It also can’t pull off a Dragon moveset to the same effect due to its less than stellar Dragon-type moves. That said, Reshiram is still poised to become the absolute top Fire-type Pokemon in the game and will be a must-have Pokemon for any team.
Special Note: Kyurem White is made from a fusion of Kyurem and Reshiram in the main series. While we don’t have any evidence to support that being the case in Go, catching a few Reshiram should be a priority on its release if only for that fact.
Quick Moves: Mud Shot, Rock Throw
Charge Moves: Earth Power, Outrage, Rock Slide, Focus Blast
Every single generation in this game we’ve seen a trend with Ground Types: bad movesets on what could otherwise be great Pokemon. In general, they’ve only been used when their skills covered the only or a double weakness on a raid boss despite the fact that many Pokemon are weak to Ground-type. Those days will soon come to a close. Landorus - Therian is an insane Pokemon: it’s got a higher attack stat than even the legendary Groudon, and the outright superior Earth Power to boot. It does have a double weakness to Ice-type moves and lessened resistance to Electric-type moves, but its damage pulls so far ahead of its contemporaries that it’s going to be a must-have for any team.
Quick Moves: Hex, Fire Spin
Charge Moves: Energy Ball, Shadow Ball, Overheat
While several Pokemon on this list are very capable of pulling off movesets in multiple types, none do so quite as well as Chandelure. Sitting comfortably near the top of both the Fire and Ghost-type charts, Chandelure is already set to be a fantastic investment on release. As a Ghost-type, it approaches Gengar in terms of sheer power even without a “good” Quick Move, sacrificing a little power for additional TDO. As a Fire-type, it rivals Blast Burn Blaziken, once again losing a drop of DPS for a drop of TDO. Chandelure is going to be a fantastic Pokemon for role-compression and high return on investment, not to mention lower resource cost than the legendaries that it will compete with and a unique typing that might be advantageous in select raids moving forward.
Quick Moves: Counter, Poison Jab
Charge Moves: Dynamic Punch, Focus Blast, Stone Edge
Since the initial change to Super Effective damage, Fighting-type has been one of the most important types in the game, and Machamp has been the champion within his weight class. And now, after all of these years, the Champ can finally hang up his belt. Conkeldurr is, at last, the Fighting-type to out-class Machamp by every metric. Given the same stellar Fighting-type moveset and superior stats, it will out-perform Machamp blow-for-blow in any relevant raid. That said, it’s not rated perfectly here for one very practical reason: many of us have a full team of Machamp ready to go, so is it worth the stardust investment for a neutral 1 DPS and somewhat higher TDO? For many players, the answer will be yes, but for anyone who isn’t trying to squeeze every last drop of damage out of their team, Machamp will still be a sufficient answer in most cases.
Quick Moves: Fire Spin, Bug Bite
Charge Moves: Overheat, Bug Buzz, Solar Beam, Hurricane
Since the inception of Pokemon Go, Bug has been the prime example of an underpowered type. It has traditionally fallen behind every other type outside of a double-weakness and has always been a bottom-priority to most trainers. Volcarona will change that…. Somewhat. Volcarona will be, hands down, the strongest Bug Type in Go. It tops the existing Bug-type DPS king, Pinsir, and even tops the Mythical Pokemon Genesect, which also originates in Generation 5. Vocarona can also pull double-duty as a Fire-type Pokemon, making use of its outstanding moveset to set the world ablaze. However, it’s not all good for Volcarona: while stronger than anything we’ve seen, Volcarona still isn’t exactly topping the neutral DPS list, meaning it will still tend to underperform outside of a double Bug-type weakness due to contenders from other types tending to pull more weight than the Sun Pokemon. It’s also not the best choice for a Fire Type, surpassing Moltres but falling behind Chandelure, Reshiram, and several other Fire-type superstars. That said, Volcarona is definitely worth raising, but it might be wiser to save any good Larvesta that you may catch or hatch for a future Community Day, as it is a likely candidate.
Quick Moves: Metal Claw, Mud Slap
Charge Moves: Rock Slide, Earthquake, Drill Run, Iron Head
Excadrill sits in a rather unfortunate position in this generation. It is a very good Pokemon that can out-DPS even Groudon thanks to its access to Drill Run. It also has a Steel sub-typing, meaning it will resist or take neutral damage from several types that threaten other Ground types. The problem, as should already be obvious by this point in the list, is the fact that it’s being released in the same generation as Landorus-Therian. That said; Excadrill may also be a good budget option for Ground-type offense depending on its availability, and will help to finally cement Ground-type as a worthwhile type after 4 generations of lackluster power.
Quick Moves: Smack Down, Zen Headbutt
Charge Moves: Close Combat, Earthquake, Rockslide
Generation 5 brings with it three Fighting-type Legendary Pokemon and one Fighting-type Mythic Pokemon. Among these, Terrakion is hands-down the most viable. However, without access to Dynamic Punch, it was never going to be the fighting force that we’ve long hoped for. Instead, it received an outstanding Rock-type moveset to call its own. Terrakion now sits somewhere between Tyranitar and Rampardos on the list, falling short of the former’s TDO, and falling a fair bit short of the latter's DPS. That said, Terrakion is not a bad Pokemon and can be used to shore up a Rock-type team with its unique typing. Also worth noting is the fact that in the main series, Terrakion and the other Swords of Justice learn a signature Fighting-type move named Sacred Sword, so Terrakion may see more utility someday in the future.
Quick Moves: Dragon Breath, Steel Wing
Charge Moves: Dragon Pulse, Blizzard, Ancient Power, Focus Blast
Let’s be clear here: Kyurem-White is a powerful Pokemon. However, why use it when you could use Kyurem-Black; an objectively better Pokemon, instead? As previously stated, players are only allowed to have one Kyurem fusion at a time in any given Pokemon main series game. While this is probably not how Go will end up working, it would make Kyurem - White the objectively worse choice.
Quick Moves: Steel Wing, Wing Attack
Charge Moves: Dragon Claw, Ancient Power, Crunch
I don’t think that anyone is surprised by this one. Archeops had the potential to be an absolute juggernaut given the right moves, but then its nature as a Defeatist kicked in and gave it a bad moveset. As it sits, Archeops has a titanic Attack stat, but no tools that will make use of it properly
Quick Moves: Bite, Dragon Breath
Charge Moves: Dragon Pulse, Dark Pulse, Flash Cannon
We’re re-living Metagross here. The Pseudo-Legendary Pokemon of this generation was given a bad moveset, leaving it in a bad position. It’s an okay Dark-type attacker(better than Tyranitar), but it’s still behind Weavile and is outclassed by Zoroark and the upcoming Darkrai in that niche. On top of that, it’s left in the dust in terms of both moveset and stats by other Dragon Types, meaning Dark is its best general choice. Hydreigon’s only hope now is that it’s treated in a manner similar to Metagross on its inevitable community day.
Quick Moves: Astonish, Thunder Shock
Charge Moves: Crunch, Thunder, Brick Break, Thunder Punch
This terrifying Pokemon has higher attack than Zekrom and access to a better Quick Move alongside Wild Charge, but the choice to give it the lackluster Thunder as its best Charged Move has made it an objectively worse Pokemon. That said, it does manage to out-damage Zapdos, but that’s not enough of an achievement to see any real use.
Quick Moves: Dragon Breath, Steel Wing
Charge Moves: Dragon Claw, Blizzard, Icy Wind, Draco Meteor
With just one less attack point and higher bulk than Mamoswine, Kyurem could have become one of the best Ice-Type attackers in the game. Too bad it didn’t get the moveset needed to reach its potential.
Special Note: Kyurem Black and Kyurem White both use Kyurem as a basis, fused with Zekrom or Reshiram respectively in the main series. While we don’t have any evidence to support this being the case in Go, catching a few Kyurem should be a priority on its release if only for that fact.
Quick Moves: Poison Jab, Low Kick
Charge Moves: Aqua Jet, Close Combat, Hydro Pump, X-Scissor
As a Water Type attacker, it could have had power at least on a par with most of the Hydro Cannon users, but a lack of a Water-type Quick Move dropped it into obscurity. The note-worthy fact here; the game files show basic and Resolute formes of Keldeo with the same moveset, neither of which include its signature move, Secret Sword. Since this move is required to change its forme in the main series, it’s likely that Keldeo will at least see some moveset change pre-release.
Quick Moves: Confusion, Quick Attack
Charge Moves: Overheat, Focus Blast, Psychic
In the main series, Victini has two signature moves: Searing Shot and the astonishingly overpowered V-Create. Sadly, it didn’t get either move here, and its less than great stats virtually demand an overpowered move to be able to compete for a spot on most raid groups. Jirachi’s Doom Desire may not have made it the top Steel type, but it did allow it to be a contender where useful. Victini, on the other hand, just can’t grasp the victory that it promises.
Quick Moves: Quick Attack, Low Kick
Charge Moves: Close Combat, Fire Punch, Ice Punch, Hyper Beam
Everyone’s favorite dancing Mythic Pokemon takes the crown for Normal-Type DPS! However, Normal is basically a useless type in raids. One noteworthy fact: Pirouette forme Meloetta doesn’t exist outside of battle in the main series. Instead, it transforms from its base forme, also known as Aria forme, on the use of its signature move; Relic Song. Post-battle, it reverts to Aria forme. How Niantic will handle this mechanic remains to be seen.
Quick Moves: Metal Claw, Fury Cutter
Charge Moves: X-Scissor, Magnet Bomb, Hyper Beam
Genesect received a great Bug-type moveset, but so did Volcarona. Despite being a Mythic Pokemon, it’s instantly outclassed in its main niche by a Pokemon that isn’t even a pseudo-legendary. It might find some niches thanks to its great typing, and it could have been the new Bug-Type superstar, but it just can’t stand up to the raw power of the Sun Pokemon.
Quick Moves: Tackle, Fire Fang
Charge Moves: Overheat, Focus Blast, Psychic, Rock Slide
A great Pokemon that got a great moveset. It would have easily taken a position between Blaziken and Moltres as another fantastic Fire-Type choice, but along-side it came both Chandelure and Reshirem, causing Darmanitan to fall to the way-side as a great, but not outstanding Fire-Type. Still, it is the best pure Fire Type in the game, which may afford it a niche or two.
Quick Moves: Dragon Tail, Counter
Charged Moves: Dragon Claw, Surf, Night Slash, Earthquake
While outclassed as a Dragon-type attacker, Haxorus has very high attack and a good moveset. With Dragon Tail and Dragon Claw, it could make a great Gym cleaner and can slot into Dragon teams fairly nicely. But, again, it has some Legendary competition for that role.
Quick Moves: Shadow Caw, Snarl
Charge Moves: Foul Play, Sludge Bomb, Flamethrower
Zoroark is the second-best pure-Dark attacker in the game, but it’s still far behind the power of several other Ghost/Psychic killers, leaving it in a less than desirable position. Still, it will likely be a serviceable attacker when released.
Generation 5 appears to be living up to the hype that it’s had surrounding its release, with a set of winners that are poised to change raid infographics for years to come. What’s more; we don’t even know what sort of Community Day moves we’ll see beyond the obvious starter moves, meaning the meta will likely shift even more as we move forward. For new and veteran players alike, this generation is on course to be one of the most exciting updates that we’ve seen in Pokemon Go history, and we’re just barely getting started!