How does the Team GO Rocket balloon event work in Pokémon Go?

A new side event is live and Team GO Rocket is on the loose.

Image via Niantic

Team GO Rocket have begun an aerial assault on the players of Pokémon Go, using their signature hot air balloons to descend on the overworld map and cause mayhem for Trainers. 

This opens up a whole new way for players to interact with the game’s evil team, because each balloon means that you can battle one of its members. 

As part of an event that has been teased for just over a week through Strange Scraps being discovered by the Go team leaders, Rocket Grunts have started hovering over the map, specifically in areas surrounding PokéStops. 

Players can tap on those air-born balloons when they spot them, which will then initiate a battle with whoever is inside of that vehicle. This can be a GO Rocket Grunt, one of the three leaders, Sierra, Arlo, or Cliff, or even Giovanni in the right circumstances. 

Related: How to get a Rocket Radar and Super Rocket Radar in Pokémon Go

The easiest way to find and interact with the balloons is frequently zooming the map out to see if there are any flying objects just outside of your normal view. You can do this by using two fingers to zoom out.

There is no clear limit on how many balloons you can encounter per day, but after you defeat each pilot, the object vanishes. No spawn timer or spawn area has been discovered yet, but you can very easily find encounters with GO Rocket Grunts by simply playing the game normally. 

Niantic started the rollout of this new event with just Level 40 players having access to it, but it is slowly being pushed live for everyone.