The term Rocket Balloon has been circulating Pokémon Go for a few weeks right now. The concept of introducing these balloons to the popular mobile game first came when players pointed out the brief appearance of a rocket balloon near the back of the Pokémon Go Fest 2020 promotional image. You can see it in the photo below, in the back of the left side, behind several trees.
This information, and even the addition of Rocket Balloons, has not been confirmed in any way by developer Niantic at this time. However, dataminers at Pokeminers have been hard at work finding out a lot of information on how they might work if and when Pokémon Go arrives. Here's what we know so far, at least speculatively.
When will Rocket Balloons come out?
At the moment, we don't have a clear idea of when the balloons might be released. However, since the rocket balloon had been seen on the back of a Pokémon Go Image Fest 2020, we can assume that it lines up with these events. A rocket balloon could be launched alongside Pokémon Go Weekend Fest 2020, which practically takes place from 25 to 26 July, rather than in a physical location. Alternatively, it could come up during the event lead-up, offering players a way to complete various challenges that will help them unlock more Pokémon to catch during the virtual event.
How do rocket balloons work?
Based on what the Pokeminers have been able to uncover, it looks like there will be two versions of Rocket Balloon. One will have the standard Rocket Grunt in it and the other contains one of several Rocket Bosses. While these balloons will float above you, if you are in range to interact with them, you should be able to fight a grunt or rocket boss as if they were fighting you from a traditional PokéStop. Hopefully Team Rocket has a different roster than the one they were using in early March of March.
Rocket Balloons themselves can have a starting point where they start at a PokéStop, float in the air, and then land at another nearby stop. The exact distance between the two Pokéstops remains unknown at this time. It would likely have to cover large distances to ensure that many instructors can access it while traveling on the map.
Does this lead back to missile research and Giovanni's events?
This is unknown, but extremely uncertain. Niantic has explicitly stated that it does not plan to carry out any further Giovanni research or events until the end of September 2020. While the addition of a Team Rocket balloon is excellent, and a step forward in helping people stuck in their homes due to the pandemic, it is unlikely that it will lead to the revival of Team Rocket's monthly events. Of course, we got to hear several details directly from Niantic.
Will Rocket Balloons be a permanent feature?
Potentially. It all depends on how and when Niantic plans to introduce the Rocket Balloon feature, even if it's about the game. If rocket balloons become a thing during the weeks leading up to the Pokémon Go 2020 Fest event, they may continue to hang around. However, rocket balloons are much more likely to be introduced on the second day of the virtual event. It may focus on the new mythical Pokémon that Niantic is planning to release that day.
For now, all of this information is speculative, so take it with a grain of salt. We will update this article as we learn more about how Pokémon Go rocket balloons fit.