It’s going to take a while to figure out how the gym scene develops now that training at your own gyms is easier, but the new capture bonus has really affected how the game plays right off the bat.
The way the new system works is that if you’ve caught X number of a certain type of Pokémon, you see a buff to your capture rate. At the “bronze” tier (catch 10 of one type) you get a +1 “catch bonus” for that specific type. Catch 50 (silver), +2, catch 200 (gold), +3.
Now, what exactly this “catch bonus” is has been debated hotly by fans, because it’s pretty non-descriptive. Is it 3%? 30%? Some other kind of multiplier? The only clue is that in the Italian version of the game it actually does say 3%, but that may be a kind of localization issue. But, if it isn’t, it might still be a buff all the same.
Adding 3% to the base capture rate of a Pokémon could have a lot of impact, given all the different multipliers the game gives you via special balls, berries, curveballs and colored-circle targets. Here’s a bit of math from /u/saqwedcxz to show what that would look like:
- Base catch chance: 10%
- Bonus for gold medal: +3% to base catch chance
- Multiplier for “great” throw: 1.5x
- Multiplier for curveball: 1.25x
- Multiplier for razz berry: 1.25x
- Multiplier for ultra ball: 1.5x
- Overall catch chance without bonus: (10%) * 1.5 * 1.25 * 1.25 * 1.5 = 35.2%
- Overall catch chance with bonus: (10% + 3%) * 1.5 * 1.25 * 1.25 * 1.5 = 45.7%
When you combine enough of these bonuses, especially for low-capture-chance Pokémon, it could make them way easier to catch.
I am not convinced this is the case, however, because I’ve been testing out the system for myself. What I’ve found is a much better capture rate than the game had previously on my “gold medal” classes, even without the vast majority of these bonuses.
With all the Pidgeys, Rattatas and Drowzees around, I have normal, flying and psychic gold medals. Previously, when higher CP versions of these Pokémon spawned, it could easily take 3-4 balls to capture them after multiple breakouts. Now? All of them, using normal balls with no bonuses, take no more than 1-2.
This is why I don’t really buy the 3% idea, and actually think it’s a bigger buff than that. If the old capture rate for a 300 CP Rattata was say, 30%, I don’t think that changing that to 33% would result in the significant change I’m seeing. Using a regular ball with no berries, and no curve throw, the chance should not increase by that much using that math formula, but I am seeing very, very consistent improvement anyway.
But what about for rare Pokémon? After all, they were the ones that were breaking out the most often.
This is a little harder to say, because it’s hard to magically make rare Pokémon spawn on cue, so data is limited. I will say, however, that I have faced off against some local 700-800 CP Hypnos with red capture circles, and I’ve caught them all within 1-3 regular(!) balls with the help of my psychic-type gold medal. Previously, this might have taken 7-8 throws, and it was at a point where I would almost avoid high CP evolved Pokémon I didn’t need because of how much of a pain it was to catch them. But, at least from what I’m seeing initially, it’s a lot easier to catch everything, common or rare. (Update: I caught a 960 CP Dewgong on my first throw using a berry, an ultra ball and a “Great!” toss, which seems like it would have been far from a guarantee previously.)
I have to do more testing of this, and now I want to test Pokémon GO Plus as well, where Pokémon have notoriously fled frequently in the past, to see if this makes a difference there. But so far, this seems to be a pretty solid buff across the board for capture rates in a way that should be immediately noticeable for most players, and that’s something the game definitely needed.