Pokémon Go now lets you fight Team Rocket hot air balloons

Hot air balloons carrying the villainous Team Rocket have appeared in Pokémon Go.

The first of these floating vehicles appeared in the game last night, following a week of teases suggesting Team Rocket was up to no good once again.

Balloons offer a new way to battle Team Rocket members remotely, rather than visiting a hacked PokéStop.

If you have a Rocket Radar equipped you’ll be able to battle the group’s tough Team Leaders. Or, if you have a Super Radar equipped, you’ll be able to battle the group’s big boss Giovanni (and without the worry of finding one of his numerous decoys).

Balloons seem to be spawning in-game sporadically at the moment, though will feature more heavily in an invasion event set for the game’s upcoming battle-themed week of timed research. This is also set to reward a Super Radar so you can take on Giovanni again.

The addition of an alternative way to fight Team Rocket feels like a deliberate move to restart the game’s Rocket storyline in a post-lockdown world.

Pokémon Go previously featured a monthly story quest to take down Giovanni for a new Shadow Legendary Pokémon. This involved visiting numerous PokéStops, battling Team Leaders and finally tracking down the boss himself.

It was a great gameplay loop – but one which was suddenly put on pause as Pokémon Go reworked itself to fit lockdown conditions.

It’s also a neat idea from Pokémon Go maker Niantic, riffing on the Team Rocket hot air balloon from the Pokémon TV series, and the previous appearance of a real-life hot air balloon over the game’s real-world events to herald the arrival of Team Rocket into the game last summer.