A Whole New World: A Guide to the Dream World
Many people speculated up until release of Pokémon Black and White
about potentially massive mechanic changes. Past generations have brought EVs, natures, abilities, the physical/special split, and new types to the table, and while BW appears to be quite similar to DP mechanically, it did bring one noteworthy change—the Dream World.
Similar to how DP had the GTS, BW has the Global Link, and one of its components is the Dream World, which is operated from the internet and allows the downloading of Pokémon, many of whom cannot be found in Isshu. Nearly every Pokémon (barring the likes of Slaking and Castform, as well as several others) comes with a Dream World-exclusive ability of their own, data of which exists in the game, and, in certain cases, special moves. The Eevee family were advertised pre-release as having unique abilities, with Vaporeon getting Hydration for one.
Unfortunately, we currently don't know much about the distribution mechanism, which Pokémon will be released when, or the RNG. What we do know is what each Pokémon gets and what the new abilities do, and some of these are nothing short of revolutionary, the best example being Ditto with Eccentric. Research on the Dream World is being conducted in Uncharted Territory
, focusing on what's available to be encountered right now, so while initial Gen V won't start with all of the Dream World abilities, it will start with the obtainable ones. Here are just some of the more exciting and notable changes!
Ditto - Eccentric
This is the most obviously important change; Eccentric completely changes how Ditto is used and may well propel it to OU, a welcome rise from the depths of NU. Non-Eccentric Ditto suffers from a number of issues, an important one being that it's too frail and slow to Transform while taking an attack, and finding a free turn is not easy. As such, its problems make its potential utility fairly inconsistent. Eccentric solves this problem and transforms Ditto into the opponent automatically upon switch-in, and furthermore, it copies all direct stat changes (e.g. boosts from Swords Dance but not Choice Band), making it a significant threat with Choice Scarf to stat-up sweepers like Dragon Dancers.
However, being Choice-locked in means clever switching is still possible, but Eccentric is definitely a huge improvement, making Ditto into a one-size-fits-all check!
Blaziken - Speed Boost
To be fair, it still doesn't completely outclass Infernape, which is naturally faster, stronger, and now gets... Iron Fist. Yay? Just kidding, Speed Boost Blaziken is huge, and it sure has turned the tables on that wretched monkey. After a few turns, which may be hastened by Protect (though Blaziken would like its move slot back, thank you very much, particularly if it wants to run Swords Dance), Blaziken will outspeed pretty much everything on your team, and plow through it with its Hi Jump Kicks. We know from Infernape in the 4th gen that Fire and Fighting are lovely dual STABs, and they aren't resisted by many things in combination with each other. It always has auxiliary attacks to take care of the ones that do. One example of a Blaziken check is Shanderaa, which is obliterated by Stone Edge, and another is Burungeru (the Water/Ghost-type), which doesn't take ThunderPunches too well either. Longevity and frailty (especially when you take high-priority moves into account) will still plague it, but Speed Boost completely changes how we look at Blaziken. From sadly outclassed to kickass, it only took one change to make the future so much more exciting.
Shanderaa - Shadow Tag
A fifth gen addition, Shanderaa is a powerful special attacking Ghost/Fire-type. Most players will know, at least from hearsay, that Shadow Tag is one of the best abilities in the game. Wobbuffet uses Shadow Tag to trap all of its opponents and defeat them with strategies like Counter / Mirror Coat, Encore, and Tickle, or else create an opportunity for its teammate by Encoring a non-threatening move and switching. Shanderaa doesn't have these kinds of support moves, but it does have strong STABs, and a highly useful typing, as well as the option of Calm Mind. It can trap and kill a lot of things on stall teams (such as Skarmory and 5th gen's Nattorei), as well as take out a range of threats for once and for all.
Sadly, Shanderaa has unfortunate weaknesses to Water, Dark, Ghost, Ground, and Rock, meaning just about every offensive Pokémon has something to hit it with, particularly if it wants to Calm Mind. Nonetheless, I expect great things should Shadow Tag Shanderaa ever become available.
Ninetales - Drought + Politoed - Drizzle
Seemingly randomly, Game Freak decided to troll us by including Drought and Drizzle on other Pokémon, though they haven't been encountered yet. Ninetales and (especially) Politoed are almost never seen in OU and Ubers in DP, mainly because they're not very good and also because for every Ninetales and Politoed you throw at me, I can name a similar Pokémon with superior attributes. Drought and Drizzle add some highly valuable sources of weather changing to the mix, and right now there's no chance of them being outclassed in that respect.
In 4th gen, Drizzle and Drought were seen as way too overpowered, given the plethora of Pokémon who can take too much advantage of the perma weather, and also because Kyogre and Groudon are just insanely strong in their own right (from Choice Specs Water Spouts and Calm Minding to Rock Polish sweeps and tanking), even if you factor out the team support aspect. But now with two mediocre-at-best Pokémon with those abilities, we're forced to evaluate whether they really are too broken, being on Pokémon that are otherwise basically a liability at high power levels. Of course, if Policy Review decides to start with a clean slate as far as bans go, they'll find themselves in the same position as usual, contending with plain better Pokémon (Kyogre and Groudon). But in tiers where Kyogre and Groudon aren't allowed, these two will surely find a use, especially with all the Pokémon with Swift Swim, Chlorophyll, etc. who are roughly equivalent in power.
Ho-Oh - Regeneration
Ho-Oh doesn't need much of a boost, with that fantastic stat distribution, the effective STAB combination of Sacred Fire and Brave Bird, and 50% instant healing in Roost. Granted, in 4th gen Ubers, it's rather slow, but the main reason it's been consistently underrated is its crippling 4x weakness to Stealth Rock, resulting in 50% less HP each time Ho-Oh switches in with SR on the field. Regeneration alleviates the damage by restoring 33% HP each time Ho-Oh switches out. While it does have Roost, every bit of recovery counts, and 33% is major, especially considering Ho-Oh can't always be Roosting. Assuming Ho-Oh is over 17% HP once it switches out, it won't die to Stealth Rock switching in again either.
Really, I don't think there's much to be said about Ho-Oh itself. It's undeniably a fearsome Pokémon, and Regeneration is just the icing on a very sweet cake. Should Ho-Oh ever be released with Regeneration, the metagame needs to watch out!
Gyarados and Salamence - Overconfidence
Overconfidence, also known as the mistranslated Earthquake Spiral, boosts Attack by one stage each time the Pokémon KOes an opponent (directly, not by passive damage). Let me repeat that less succinctly. For each kill Salamence and Gyarados get, their Attack rises for free, meaning you can't freely sacrifice something to them without making them all the more powerful. Unfortunately, for the moment it seems that Overconfidence is incompatible with the 4th gen tutor moves, meaning that Salamence can't run Outrage alongside it.
To be fair, these two will have to forfeit an extremely enviable ability in Intimidate to use Overconfidence, but it's not much of a loss. Intimidate does help them set up and gives them some great team support (Gyarados in particular needs Intimidate to make it such an effective Fighting-type counter on stall teams), but being able to pick off anything and nab a free Attack boost is worth it.
Lastly, in fairness's sake, I'll also add that Heracross, Pinsir, Mightyena, and Honchkrow also got it, but who really cares about them compared to the aforementioned OU powerhouses?
Zapdos - Lightningrod
Lightningrod itself received a heavy boost in the 5th gen; instead of being useless in singles while drawing Electric attacks in doubles, it now provides an immunity to Electric, as well as boosting Special Attack by one stage. Think of it like Motor Drive for Special Attack. Imagine Zapdos coming in on your powerful Thunderbolt, but not only did it take no damage from it, it got a free power boost as well! While Pressure is still a huge boost to it defensively, Lightningrod's granted immunity is a boon not to be taken lightly, and the boost to its Thunderbolts are very welcome also.
Breloom - Technician
There's a lot to say for Poison Heal. It makes Breloom a great status absorber and a frustrating SubSeeder. It's pretty hard to kill it if it's already got a Substitute up and is also taking recovery from Leech Seed (and maybe even Leftovers if there's no sand or hail about). It also helps those appalling effects. But there's a lot to say for Technician Breloom as well. Mach Punch is a huge asset, and so is the newly-strengthened Bullet Seed, which nearly always outdamages Seed Bomb with Technician. It takes away from its defensive attributes but enhances its offensive attributes, making it a dangerous threat, and Mach Punch helps make up for its... disappointing, to say the least... Speed.
Quagsire - Unaware
As if Gastrodon needed more reasons to eat its heart out, its sworn enemy and fierce rival Quagsire was given Unaware, just to stamp on stat-up sweepers even more. Completely ignoring your Lucario's stat boosts, it survives your Close Combat or Aura Sphere and retaliates with Earthquake, taking it out in one hit. Your Calm Mind Suicune can't do much unboosted, either, but has to fear Encore. Damp and Water Absorb are already fabulous abilities with their own respective uses, so don't expect to see every Quagsire carrying Unaware if Quagsire is released, but definitely keep it in mind.
An honourary mention goes to Swampert, which was already awesome enough; it gets Damp, which stops your pesky Metagross lead from blowing up in its face. However, it may have to forfeit Stealth Rock to use Damp. What a shame!
Espeon - Magic Mirror
Yet another one in this list of cool Pokémon that are outclassed or simply not good enough to compensate for their shortcomings, Espeon landed its extremely cute self an awesome ability called Magic Mirror. While its full mechanics haven't been confirmed yet, suffice to say it acts like an automatic Magic Coat, a huge upgrade from Synchronize. Any unsuspecting person hoping to set up hazards on that harmless little kitty cat is in for a huge shock. At the very least, it prevents the opponent from setting up on it, something a lot of other Pokémon are currently greener than a shiny Espeon about.
Raikou - Volt Absorb + Entei - Flash Fire + Suicune - Water Absorb
As an alternative to Pressure, these three may one day have Volt Absorb, Flash Fire, and Water Absorb, giving them an immunity and form of recovery (or, in Entei's case, a way to power up its Fire attacks). Raikou and Jolteon have always been reasonably comparable as far as Electric-type special attackers go, and the gap was just bridged even further. However, Suicune may not always opt to use Water Absorb; if defensive sets like CroCune are used, Pressure may be more viable because it lets Suicune stall out the likes of Blissey and other CroCune, while Rest will give it recovery aplenty. More offensive sets lacking Rest, however, would greatly appreciate the immunity to Water and easier switch-ins. To give a DPPt example, Starmie's Hydro Pumps don't particularly cripple Suicune, but it isn't getting that HP back in a hurry without Rest, and it'll need it to take the ensuing Thunderbolt.
The Dream World has undoubtedly boosted a lot of Pokémon, particularly some of the could-be-awesome-but-sadly-lacking UUs and NUs you tried when you were new to DPPt but gave up on in frustration, and while we're no stranger to balancing and creating Pokémon here on Smogon, I have to admit Game Freak have outdone themselves here! I've hardly covered all the abilities, and we don't know to what extent they will affect the metagame, or even if some of these Pokémon will ever see the light of day, but this article hopefully gave you a good idea of what to hope for in the future (or panic over!). I neglected to discuss some particularly interesting specimens, such as Jaroda with Perversity and Exeggutor with Harvest, and I've also ignored the useless additions, such as Slip Through on Jumpluff, Soundproof on Abomasnow, Perversity on Shuckle, and Keen Eye on Drapion. What's that, you say? Daruma Mode Hihidaruma? Daruma what? Sorry, I don't even want to talk