Eevee and its wide range of evolved forms are eccentric. A large variety of typings are represented by an “Eevelution.” Because Eevee is so widely available, it is generally pretty easy to get them all (even if you have to take up some weird steps, like giving your Eevee a specific nickname).
This article plans to talk about the impact each Eevelution has had in the Pokemon Go metagame. It primarily talks about the Raid and Gym Defense metagame, but may touch base on PvP as well.
Given that Leafeon, Glaceon and Sylveon do not yet exist, the end of this article will forecast and speculate to the impact it will have on the game.
Beginning with Vaporeon:
It is absolutely impossible to talk about the impact Eevelutions have had on this game without mentioning Vaporeon. Vaporeon was actually stupidly powerful when the game first launched in 2016. Vaporeon was so powerful that fellow Eevelution Jolteon would actually lose to Vaporeon one-on-one despite having a type advantage! Vaporeon was so strong and difficult to beat that random and otherwise crappy Grass types, like Vileplume, were getting large amounts of attention. This is because, for the longest time, Vileplume was the strongest counter to it! Of course, subsequent generations would see Vaporeon fall back to Earth a little bit. When Generation 2 came to the game, Gyarados gained access to Waterfall and abruptly leapfrogged Vaporeon for the title of best Water type in the game. That wasn’t all, though; Vaporeon’s stats were nerfed by 9%, and super effective moves began to do more damage. This means Electric types such as Jolteon were much better at taking Vaporeon down. With the introduction of Raikou in Generation 2, Vaporeon’s viability as a defender was largely hindered because Raikou was (and still to this day is) the best Electric type attacker by far. When Generation 3 came out, Vaporeon found itself slipping down the ranks of the Water type conglomerate once again when the vastly superior Kyogre was released. Worse yet, Vaporeon’s usefulness as a defender took another hit when Milotic was released. Milotic could do everything that Vaporeon could do on defense, but way better. Later down the road, Feraligatr gained access to Hydro Cannon via the Totodile community day in January of 2019, making yet another Water type strictly superior to Vaporeon.
So, here we are today. Does Vaporeon suck? Is Vaporeon hopelessly outclassed by the competition, its dominant days of Generation 1 but a mere happy memory? While Vaporeon will never return to the centralization it enjoyed during Generation 1, it is far from hopelessly outclassed. The one thing Vaporeon will always have that its competition will never, ever get is accessibility. To supplement this point: you can never get Kyogre aside from a random week or two out of the entire year where Niantic stuffs it in gyms as a Raid boss. It takes a whopping 400 Magikarp candies to get Gyarados, and Magikarp is pretty rare to find too. Finally, Milotic is difficult to obtain; Feebas is almost never seen in the wild. Even when it is, it takes 100 Feebas candies to get a Milotic, whereas you only need 25 Eevee candies to get a Vaporeon. Finally, Feraligatr is only better than Vaporeon if it has Hydro Cannon. If you didn’t happen to get a team of six Feraligatrs during the whopping three hour period the move was accessible, you’re out of luck in that regard. Therefore, in the time it would take to get a single maxed Kyogre, Gyarados, Feraligatr or Milotic, you could just as easily amass an army of six maxed Vaporeons. Additionally, it’s not as if Vaporeon itself is useless. A simple set of Water Gun + Hydro Pump is capable of doing just about anything you’d expect a Water type to be able to do.
Conclusion: Vaporeon is outclassed, but has a very safe niche of being far easier to obtain than its superiors.
Jolteon is like Vaporeon in the sense that its use has deteriorated since the game launched. Jolteon was actually much more renowned for its reputation as a Tier 3 Raid boss. For the longest time, Jolteon was actually the only Tier 3 ever (and one of only two such Tier 3s in the game’s history) to be impossible to solo completely. On offense, Jolteon was the only usable Electric type until Zapdos was released. Jolteon still had the niche of being better against Ice types or Water types with Ice type moves, such as Tier 4 Blastoise raids, until Raikou came along in Generation 2 and outclassed Jolteon completely. In Generation 3, not too much changed with Jolteon’s role in the game. But then, Generation 4 came and Jolteon fell wickedly out of favor. Electivire and Luxray were released, and both are vastly superior to Jolteon in every way. Magnezone is due to release soon, and it too will outclass Jolteon completely. In Generation 5, Zekrom will eventually be released, and it will be vastly superior to Jolteon and a slew of other Electric types. In fact, looking further down the road, each future Generation will release an Electric type or two which will further push Jolteon into obscurity.
Conclusion: Vaporeon still has the niche of being more accessible than its competition to keep itself relevant. For the moment being, Jolteon also has this advantage. But when Magnezone is released, that advantage will be totally gone, as Magnemite is pretty common and Sinnoh Stones are getting easier and easier to access. Finally, even if Jolteon is more accessible than the competition, that stops mattering when the list of Electric types which are better than it grows and grows. For example, if you ‘only’ have one Raikou, one Zapdos, one Zekrom, one Magnezone, one Electivire and one Luxray, but you have six Jolteons, the Jolteons will all ride the bench. For these reasons, Jolteon is due to soon totally fall out of favor for the average player. It is still relevant now, but its days in that regard are numbered.
Unlike the aforementioned Eevelutions, Flareon is a Pokemon who began as a pretty mediocre Pokemon, has become marginally better ever since, but will never get to enjoy the time in the spotlight its cousins did. Flareon began as a mediocre Pokemon which competed with the iconic Charizard for the best Fire type in Generation 1. Both were put to shame when Moltres was released. In Generation 2, Flareon temporarily distanced itself from Charizard when it gained access to Overheat. This advantage was quickly offset when Entei was released and, to add insult to injury, Charizard would end up leapfrogging Flareon when it gained access to Blast Burn, a move which is much better than Overheat. Charizard would also later get access to Overheat, ensuring it would constantly compete with Flareon, even without a limited edition move. In the third Generation, Blaziken’s mediocre Fire type set performed better than both non-legacy Charizard and Flareon. Fast forward to the fourth generation, and Heatran would be released and would be better than Flareon in almost every way. Perhaps the worst part about Flareon is its typing; Fire just isn’t very useful. Even though Flareon has respectfully been competitive with the best Fire types, the best Fire types themselves also aren’t amazing in this game by virtue of their typing. What this means is the Fire type verdict is: “if you aren’t the best, or near it, you’re useless.”
Conclusion: Flareon will continue to get outclassed in future generations, when better Fire types are released. When Blaziken gets access to Blast Burn, it will continue to leave Flareon in the dust. If Typhlosion ever gets access to Fire Spin, it will be right up there as another Fire type that could steal more attention away from Flareon. In general, Flareon is meh right now, and this is the most optimistic its outlook looks, and probably has ever looked.
On paper, it’s easy to assume Umbreon is useless, has always been useless, and just get a Tyranitar or something and call it a day. While Umbreon is indeed useless on offense, its niche has always been as a solid gym defender. Unfortunately, the prevalence of Machamp really hurts Umbreon’s viability as a gym defender, which stops Umbreon from ever being truly great as its stats could have otherwise allowed it to be. Still, Umbreon’s niche is pretty safe; bulky Dark types are rare, there aren’t any on the horizon in future generations (except for maybe Mega Sableye, if Megas ever get released?) so Umbreon seems to pretty much always be a good-but-not-great defender.
Conclusion: Unfortunately, good-but-not-great defenders don’t really cut it in this game. There are better options for a defender, even better options that are simultaneously weak to Machamp, such as Blissey and Slaking. Still, if a bulky Dark type is desired for Gym defense, Umbreon really only has to compete with Tyranitar, who is even weaker to Machamp than Umbreon is, with the tradeoff of being significantly more threatening directly. Mandibuzz in Gen 5 could push Umbreon a little, but this is dependent on its movepool. Umbreon’s movepool is actually pretty much perfect for the job of a defender, and, because Madnibuzz’s Flying typing conveys a whole host of other weaknesses, it will never be able to actually outclass Umbreon in anyway.
As a standalone Pokemon, Espeon is pretty solid. It has a type advantage on Fighting, which can make it useful for someone who is trying to get over the hump and solo a Tier 3 Machamp. Espeon’s stats are good, its movepool is good, and it has a good offensive typing in the context of this game. Now, when we look at other Pokemon in the game, our outlook on Espeon gets a bit less optimistic. Espeon faces heavy competition from Alakazam and Gardevoir. The former does more DPS, has a movepool with more variety, and is only slightly less accessible than Espeon is. The latter can viably threaten Dark types and can beat down Fighting types better than Espeon can, thanks to its Fairy typing. Espeon is nowhere near as bulky as Lugia, nor as utterly destructive as Mewtwo or Deoxys-A. It also isn’t very good as a gym defender, with Charge moves much better suited to offense. Therefore, Espeon is somewhat outclassed in the world of today.
Conclusion: Espeon is still pretty good, and is inherently pretty easy to get a hold of thanks to Eevee’s common appearances in the wild. But for the level 40, topped off player, there really isn’t much of a use for Espeon, who is slightly worse at doing anything than something else is.
Looking ahead at the trio of unreleased Eevelutions, starting with Leafeon:
Stop me if you’ve heard this before in this article: Leafeon is good, but other things are better. Leafeon has a great movepool and has options for both raids and gym defense. But simply put, there are better options. It is outclassed by Breloom in DPS, and by Grass Knot Roserade in both DPS and TDO. It is significantly more accessible than the latter and bulkier than the former, so it isn’t useless. Thanks in large part to its access to Leaf Blade, Leafeon does have a mild niche as being one of the most dodge friendly grass types in the game, though, in this, it largely competes with Sceptile who also has Leaf Blade. With better Grass types on the horizon, perhaps Leafeon won’t be the best investment of a Sinnoh Stone.
Conclusion: Leafeon checks out as a solid raider and defender. For a player lacking in bulk, Leafeon’s passable bulk, which is much better than Sceptile’s, and access to Leaf Blade lets it anchor the team in an unconventional way; Leafeon can dodge everything in sight thanks to how fast Leaf Blade is. Unlike Tangrowth or Groudon, Leafeon can do this and not lose any momentum in the process, a key note when fighting against the clock in a raid. Therefore, any player looking to wring any use out of Leafeon needs to capitalize on this ability, as this is the only thing Leafeon can do that nothing else cannot do better.
Glaceon is actually an excellent Pokemon but, much like its relatives, its outclassed totally by Mamoswine in every meaningful way. Aside from Mamoswine, however, the competition is very minor, and Glaceon is definitely the second best Ice type in the game. So of course, Niantic practically gave away ten Sinnoh Stones and loaded players to the brim with Swinub candies, so that getting a team of six Mamoswines would be easy, right? Glaceon would be much more relevant, and have accessibility on its side in this debate, had that not happened. For any player who was able to take advantage of even one third of the Swinub community day event, they have no use for Glaceon, as it is utterly outclassed by Mamoswine.
Conclusion: Glaceon doesn’t suck, but Ice’s limited usefulness as a typing combined with the fact that Glaceon’s only strictly superior Ice type competitor was made extremely widely accessible in one day, seal its fate. Glaceon is going to be mere Dex filler for anybody who was able to play on Swinub day. Even if you missed Swinub day, Swinub itself is pretty easy to find in this game, and you’ll get yourself six Mamoswines before terribly long anyway.
Sylveon has the stats to be useful, and because we don’t know what its moveset is going to be, we can’t say how it will end up competing with Gardevoir and Togekiss, the only other relevant Fairies in the game. So we’re saying Sylveon has a chance to truly shine in this game? Sadly no, we’re not. Fairies in general suck, and they tend to mostly be outclassed by Fighting types (namely Machamp) when facing Dark types, and Ice types (namely Mamoswine) when up against Dragons. Worse yet, the same generation in which Sylveon will be released in is the same generation legendary Fairy Xerneas will debut in. And Xerneas will certainly be better than Sylveon, and all other Fairies for that matter.
Conclusion: In order to be relevant, there will need to be a Fairy type fast move in existence which Sylveon has access to. Even then, Sylveon will just find itself most likely being outclassed by Xerneas.
Ultimately, Eevelutions in general have seen better days. Their future is unfortunately not very bright either. But, Vaporeon and Jolteon already made humongous, long lasting impacts on the game, which has to count for something!