Fans of the original Pokmon games will remember the late game search for its rarest creatures, from the Legendary flying trio Articuno, Zapdos, Moltres, to the last two Pokdex entries Mewtwo and Mew.
To date, no one has been able to locate them within Pokemon Go (though one has appeared, perhaps unofficially) but the good news is that they have been teased to appear in the game in some form; developer Niantic confirmed at its Pokemon Go San Diego Comic Con panel that Legendaries are indeed on the way, but there have been clues in the game, too…
How we know Legendary Pokmon Mewtwo, Mew, Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres are in Pokmon Go
NesstendoYT on YouTube has been digging through the game’s files to discover that the above Pokmon are indeed listed in the game:
Their absence in the game so far has led to questions of where – and when – they will appear. While it’s still possible they could be found in the wild at a high enough Trainer level, one of these Legendary Pokmon – Mewtwo – was 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 Pokmon in a packed Times Square, suggesting that Mewtwo and other Legendaries could be unlocked through public events rather than random encounters.
Other datamining efforts have revealed not only the stats of each Legendary Pokmon – showing they are among the Best Pokmon in Pokmon Go, with Mewtwo having a staggering base attack of 284 against the current highest Dragonite with 250 – and that they also have no capture rate at all.
This suggests that they will be captured differently to other creatures in the game. If we use the trailer as a basis for how it could work, it might mean you’ll get the Legendary automatically after you complete a certain task, such as everyone lowering their HP in a public space.
This is all certainly in developer Niantic’s wheelhouse, as its previous game Ingress – on which Pokmon Go’s map data is based on – has hosted special events range named ‘Anomalies’, which has teams compete over specific locations across the globe over the course of several weeks.
Participating players received an exclusive emblem for taking part, and the outcome of the event changed the course of the Ingress story.
While the developer has yet to fully announce anything along these lines for Pokmon Go, in 2015 Niantic CEO John Hanke told VentureBeat “given the success we’ve had with Ingress [events], it’s a pretty safe bet”.
The first Legendary Pokmon spotted in Pokmon Go – but how did it appear?
In early August, 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. The owner claimed she received the Pokmon as part of an apology from developer Niantic after contacting them via email about an issue, and while it sounds possible, it’s unlikely, as there has been no suggestion that Legendaries would be given away in this manner.
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.
As such, players are still suggesting we’ll have to keep waiting until a Niantic-run event or other activity before we can officially get Legendaries in our hands.
Want to get the most out of Pokmon Go? These guides on finding and catching can help.
Pokmon Go: Level rewards list, level up items and max level cap in full
Here’s what you items and rewards you unlock as you collect XP, and when.
Pokmon Go region exclusives – How to catch Tauros, Kangaskhan, Mr Mime and Farfetch’d
Everything we know on the elusive region-locked Pokmon.
Want more help with Pokmon Go? Read our Pokmon Go tips, tricks, cheats and guides for insights on how to improve your skills, how to find nearby Pokmon and when to evolve Pokmon, through to a list of the Best Pokmon, how to get XP fast, what we know about Legendary birds in Pokmon Go and other rare Pokmon.
Also, head over to Jelly Deals for the best deals on Pokemon Go accessories.
When will Legendary Pokmon officially appear in Pokmon Go?
It’s not uncommon for Legendary Pokmon in the handheld series to be held back to events outside the game – with first generation Pokmon Mew being made available at select retail stores for recent 3DS games – so it wouldn’t be a surprise if Pokmon Go follows suit.
Another tease of Legendary Pokmon comes from the game itself, 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 Pokmon?
The addition of Pokmon 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 Pokmon such as Legendaries. Meanwhile, the eventual arrival of Ditto – which was just as elusive as the Legendaries for sometime – could suggest developer Niantic are finally starting to introduce missing creatures into the game.
In the meantime, an upcoming update will introduce Pokmon trading to help flesh out the gaps in your Pokdex, and our Pokmon Go guide, tips and tricks page to pick up a few pointers you might not know.