Pokémon Go Raids Are More Trouble Than They’re Worth

Pokémon Go has been wasting space in my phone ever since Legendary Raids were introduced. It’s been a few months since powerful pocket monsters started to appear at gyms all around the world and I’ve failed at beating them every time. Even though I live in New York City, one of the most densely populated areas outside of a New Delhi suburb, I haven’t found a single person participating in a Raid. It might be because there are too many of them going on at once or perhaps proper planning on Discord or a Facebook group is required, but I haven’t had any success.

I always viewed Pokémon Go as a solo-experience. I’d queue up some motivational Third Eye Blind Spotify playlist, take the train to Prospect Park and spend hours walking around aimlessly. I loved finding Dunsparces or Vulpixes off the beaten path, finding new statues and scenic views I never would have found on my own. I even bought the Pokémon Go Plus in an attempt to spend less time flicking my phone screen, but when a Dragonair ran away, I threw it in the river. When Pokémon Go hype was at its absolute apex, I used to take dates monster hunting, but besides that, it was always me, myself and Pikachu.

When Pokémon Go was first announced and the original trailer shown, the coolest part was the Mewtwo raid. Seeing dozens of trainers gathered together in Times Square to defeat a Mewtwo, my childhood nemesis, was like my childhood dream come to life. When I played Pokémon Red for the first time, I pictured myself walking through Cerulean City to defeat the mutated monster, with crowds cheering at my unscrupulous success. For the first year of Pokémon Go’s existence, I waited patiently for any announcement about these raids, spending my time leveling and muttering to myself about eventual Pokémon masterdom.

When Niantic finally pulled back the curtain and announced that gyms are the haven for true Pokémon fights, where only the hardest trainers could battle against impossible odds, I thought I was ready. On the first weekend, I blasted through a Level three Arcanine with some randos that refused to make eye contact with me. I thought I had it made – that Gary would be waiting at my apartment, ready to hand over the Pokémon League title to a real badass. Then, the Legendary raids started to roll out, and all my confidence melted like a Vanilluxe on a hot summer day.

I don’t have Articuno, Zapdos or Moltres, but not for a lack of trying. Whenever I saw one of the three birds spawned nearby, I’d stop whatever I was doing (mostly to my girlfriend’s dismay) and headed over. Every single time the lobby was barren and I knew I couldn’t even attempt to beat the thing on my own. I must have tried to get Lugia or Raikou a half dozen times apiece before accepting my fate. Gary wouldn’t hand me shit, except a giant word bubble that says “loser!”

My Pokedex will never be complete and my dream of a Mewtwo capture remains unobtainable. Even if I somehow managed to complete a Raid and get invited to an EX Raid, I’d never have the strength to go on. I’m only level 24, with poor IV Pokémon and a chip on my shoulder, there’s no way I’m spending any more time on this game. I still open the app every few weeks to see what’s nearby, but I just don’t have the passion needed anymore. That is, until Generation three comes out and I can catch a Treecko, then I’ll be back to enslaving tiny monsters in balls.