Since its inception, the Pokemon series has followed a generational formula, with new generations arriving every few years. Each new generation brings a host of new Pokémon, as well as adding various features and mechanics to the games.

Related: Pokemon: Every Sinnoh Crossgen Evolution, Ranked

From early Generation One, through to modern Generation Eight Pokémon, the series has continually evolved, and so has the Pokémon it centers around. Each generation brought significant additions that remain beloved aspects of games to this day.So here are the best things each generation of Pokemon has added to the series.

Generation 1: Pokemon itself

Generation one may not have to add anything to the Pokemon series, as there was no Pokemon series to add anything to. It did, however, give us the Pokemon series to start with.. Although it wasn’t as polished as we know it today, the fundamentals introduced in the first generation remained unchanged for decades.

Related: First Generation Pokemon That Deserve A Return

Catch and battle Pokémon, evil teams, a rival character, eight Gym Leaders, four Elites, and a Champion. Much of the formula we know and love comes straight from the first generation, so there’s arguably no generation that has made greater contributions to the series than this one.

Generation 2: Pokemon Breeding

Something that was heavily emphasized in the original Pokemon games was their social aspect. Do you want an Alakazam or Gengar? Trade for it. Want the other starters? Trade for them. A big problem with this approach, however, was that acquiring a Bulbasaur to accompany your Squirtle would require a friend to give up theirs.

The second generation solved this problem by allowing Pokemon to be bred, which means pretty much all non-legendary species were now essentially renewable. Honorable mention should also be given to Held Items – another long-standing staple of the series that was introduced in Generation Two.

Generation Three: Abilities

Items held by Gen Two were a big addition to the combat system, but Gen Three really kicked things up a notch with abilities – powers inherent in each Pokémon that could increase their movement, weaken enemies and provide other useful effects – some can even be used outside of combat.

Related: Pokemon: Moves You Didn’t Know Had Side Effects

Abilities were a great way to make Pokemon species more unique and boost the power of otherwise underwhelming monsters.. There are even Pokémon designed around moves, the most famous example being the 1HP Shedinja and her Wonder Guard which prevents her from taking damage other than super effective moves.

Generation 4: The Physical/Special Separation

The fourth generation is widely considered one of the best generations and brought a ton of exciting things to the Pokemon table. Honorable mention has to go to tracking Pokemon, a fan-favorite feature first seen in Heartgold and well as the basic Masuda method of brilliant hunting, but there’s no denying that the physical/special separation had the biggest influence.

Prior to Generation IV, all moves of a type were physical or special. For example, all shooting moves were special, so fire-type physical attackers like Flareon just weren’t very good. Gen Four split moves within types, meaning all types now had physical and special movesand the problem of Pokemon not being viable due to their stats was a thing of the past.

Generation Five: Hidden Abilities

Building on the abilities introduced in the third generation, generation five added hidden abilities – additional, often stronger abilities that Pokemon might have. However, it wasn’t easy to get Pokémon with Hidden Ability – in Generation Five, you had to venture into the Dream World, or Hidden Caves, to catch one.

Once you had a Hidden Ability Pokemon, it was easy to get more, as Hidden Abilities can be passed down through breeding. Much like how the original ability introduction was a welcome buff to some weaker Pokemon, hidden abilities brought a much-needed power boost to many lackluster lines.

Generation Six: 3D

Generation Six was one of the biggest shake-ups the Pokemon franchise has ever seen, adding all kinds of exciting new content – brilliant hunting methods galore, reworked XP sharing, and the start of QoL features that would become such a welcome part of modern Pokemon. It also introduced the beloved Mega Evolutions, but given that they were phased out after Gen Seven, they unfortunately don’t qualify for this list.

Related: Pokemon: Moves That Were Once Signature Moves

The most influential change that remained from Gen Six was simply the switch to 3D. It wasn’t the prettiest when it debuted in X and Y, and many decried the jump, but without it, we wouldn’t have had the fantastic Legends: Arceus, nor would we have the long-awaited open-world Pokemon game in Scarlet and Violet.. 3D in mainstream games also overcame its teething issues, as Sword and Shield looked great, and we also got some nice 3D reimaginings of Kanto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh.

Generation Seven: Regional Variants

Regional variants were an inspired way to revisit old models – essentially relatives of existing species that have evolved (in a Darwinian sense, not a Pokémon sense) differently due to living in different environments.

We’ve had so many fantastic designs in Alola, Galar, and Hisui thanks to regional forms that it’s now hard to imagine Pokemon without them.. Of course, a shout must be given to level Pokemon. Although a little clumsy, this system ultimately removed HMs after years of fans complaining about unnecessary ground movements – good riddance!

Generation Eight – Quality of Life

Like all previous Generations, Generation Eight added a lot – Dynamax Adventures is arguably the most fun co-op Pokemon ever, and the Wild Area served as a precursor to the open-world direction Pokemon is heading in now. However, perhaps an underrated feature worth mentioning is the quality of life. Between bottle caps and hyper training, nature mints, ability patches and capsules, and the crafting machine, it’s finally possible to have full control over your Pokemon’s stats and moves.

Granted, not all of these items were introduced in gen 8, but the majority were, and combined with all the charms that aid in breeding, capturing, and shiny hunting, it’s clear. Game Freak is finally trying to make all aspects of Pokemon more accessible to a wider audience – a welcome change from the days when IVs and EVs were just incomprehensible backstage numbers.

Next: The Best Pokemon Peer Pairs, Ranked