One of the most utilized game mechanics in the Pokémon series is Pokémon evolution. It’s an integral part of the games, and for most Pokémon isn’t something you can get around. In most cases, evolution just sort of happens naturally, but as the games have gone on there have been multiple variations on Pokémon evolution that have been added in.
Some of these are fairly straight forward, while others are highly dependent upon various factors. Everything from location, gender, moveset and whatever else you can think of can be used as an evolution condition. Here are all of them ranked from easiest to hardest.
15 Reaching a Certain Level
This is the most common and easiest method of evolution out there. It’s pretty standard. Most Pokémon will evolve at a certain level. Starters always evolve this way, often at around the same level. This may be the easiest method out there, but is definitely the grindiest – making it a pretty long process depending on the Pokémon. Some Pokémon that evolve like this will take you a good chunk of your playthrough to evolve.
14 Evolutionary Stone
This next method of evolution stems from the opposite extreme. Instead of being a long task, stone evolution is unsurprisingly quick. There are ten different stones currently, and each affects a specific group of Pokémon.
The only downside about this method is acquiring the stones. Stone evolution allows trainers to pick which level they want their Pokémon to evolve, and is great for trainers who like to plan around certain moves.
Trading Pokémon is a pretty popular method of evolution, though in most cases trainers’ trade between friends – with the intention of getting the traded Pokémon back after its evolution.
Trading can be a bit of an annoyance if you don’t have anyone you trust that’s willing to trade with you. It’s a quick process but requires a bit of patience.
12 Stone Evolution Based on Gender
This next method of evolution is pretty much identical to your standard stone evolution, with one extra condition added in. While certain Pokémon may require a stone to evolve, trainers have to be careful they get the right gender of Pokémon for that specific stone.
There is a small group of Pokémon in the game that only evolve if they’re a certain gender and exposed to a certain stone. So getting that combo right without prior knowledge can be tricky.
11 High Friendship
It’s a prevalent theme in the Pokémon games. The idea of befriending your Pokémon is one that the series has based itself on for years, with Pokémon being companions as much as they are battle partners. Some Pokémon take this to the next level though, and actually require trainers to raise their friendship in order to evolve. It can be a long process and really makes you take extra care of the Pokémon in question.
The Gen II introduced a day and night mechanic and it instantly became a favorite among fans. It made the world seem way more alive and versatile. One way that was achieved was the introduction of time-dependent evolution methods.
Certain Pokémon only evolve during the day while others during the night. It’s a neat concept, but trainers have to be aware of when they’re training their Pokémon if they want it to work out.
9 Trading With a Held Item
Held items are pretty versatile pieces of your inventory in the Pokémon games. They can be used to buff certain stats and in certain situations, as a trigger for evolution when held by specific Pokémon in a trade.
It’s a pretty easy process all in all, but the main challenge it presents is finding or acquiring the held item, and then finding someone trustworthy to trade with.
8 Knowing a Certain Move
At this point, it’s become clear that evolution isn’t as clear cut as it started out in the original games. With so many different factors that go into it, pretty much anything can be used to trigger evolution.
In certain cases, a Pokémon’s moveset can actually determine whether or not it evolves. There isn’t really any way of knowing which moves allows which Pokémon to evolve unless that’s checked in advance – so this method can be easy to miss.
7 Held Item Dependent Evolution
This next method of evolution was first introduced in Gen IV. It’s basically just as it sounds, as certain Pokémon will only evolve if holding a certain item. This can be paired with other parameters, like with Sneasel.
Once the evolution is complete, the held item will disappear. So trainers will have to weigh the value of each before proceeding.
6 Pokémon That Only Evolve Through Unique Methods
This is more of a broad category, as each method of evolution has specific triggers depending on the Pokémon you want to evolve.
There are some pretty interesting ones out there; such as Mantyke evolving into Mantine with a Remoraid in the party, or Inkay evolving into Malamar if leveled up while the 3DS is upside-down.
5 Evolution Based on What Version You’re Playing
This next method was only recently introduced and only affects two Pokémon; Cosmoem and Rockruff. While Cosmoem’s evolution is more centered around the narrative, Rockruff’s is something you have to figure out yourself.
Cosmoem evolves into either Solgaleo or Lunala depending on which version of the game you’re playing. In Sun, Rockruff will evolve into Lycanroc’s Midday form while in Moon it will evolve into the Midnight form.
4 Location Dependent
This is getting down to some of the most specific evolution methods out there. Just like it sounds, location dependent evolutions are entirely dependent on which area you’re training your Pokémon in.
The locations in question are Moss Rock, Ice Rock, special magnetic field, and Mount Lanakila. So far that’s all there is, but more can be added in the new games.
3 Evolution Based on Gender
This is a particularly unforgiving method of evolution. When choosing a Pokémon not all trainers pay attention to its gender, and in some cases that can amount to some time wasted.
Some Pokémon will only evolve if they’re a specific gender, like female Salandits. That means that trainers who don’t know this beforehand could very well end up wasting a lot of time.
2 Evolution Based on Various Factors
This is another mixed bag method of evolution. While some evolutions are dependent on a certain condition, others are dependent on several.
Tyrogue, for example, will either evolve into Hitmonlee, Hitmonchan and Hitmontop depending on its Attack and Defense stats. It’s tough to tell without the help of a guide or prior knowledge in these cases.
1 Trading For Certain Pokémon
This method is by far the most obscure, as it only applies to two Pokémon in the entire series. Both Shelmet and Karrablast will only evolve if traded for the other. It’s a very specific condition that can make acquiring either evolution tough to those without access to one or the other.