Trainer Battles adds new attacks, new ways to get rewards, and the potential for something more.
After two full years and drilling for the dream process, Pokemon Go has finally a competing thief fight along the way.
While this new PVP mode is not the complete combat system reworked, some people hoped it's also not entirely identical to the raid and gym battles players are already accustomed to. Niantic has started with some simple changes that are a potential basis for some much larger, and also introduced new reasons for maintaining friendship levels and matches regularly.
Last week, I visited Niantic's office for over an hour of hands-on gameplay with trainer battles, which gave me a much better idea of what Niantic has already built and what can come next.
Starting a training stroke is as easy as scanning a Battle Code. In the nearby menu at the bottom right of the screen (which usually shows Pokemon and Raids in your area), you can see a match code that is essentially a QR code with the coach's avatar.
A player near you can scan your code (or you can scan them) to start a match. This means you have to stand next to everyone you hope to fight with, with a big exception: you will be able to fight your Ultra or Best Friends remotely over the Internet.
After starting a match, you will choose your league and team (more on it below) and get ready to fight. Once the match begins, it will be known to anyone who has tried Raid or Gym battles earlier. You will press to use Pokemon's Fast Move, which will build up energy and eventually allow you to use a heavier Charge Move.
However, along with Trainer Battles, Niantic now adds the ability to unlock an additional Charge Move. You can go to some Pokemon and spend extra Stardust and Candy to permanently add a new Charge Move, although Niantic could not specify the final cost yet.
When you have an additional Charge Move unlocked when using a Charge TM in the future, you will simply decide which of the two moves you want to replace instead of automatically picking up. The second Charge Move will be available in all match scenarios, including Raids and Gyms in addition to Trainer Battles.
In battle you will be able to choose which Charge Move you want to use when you have built up enough energy, so you have a few more seconds to charge it up even more. Under this window, the opposite player has the ability to use a protection screen. Each player gets only two of these to use for the whole match, so be careful when deciding which Pokemon and what attacks you want to use against.
At the end of a match, both players will receive prizes, regardless of whether they win or lose, which included the opportunity for Stardust or Sinnoh Stones in the building we played. Niantic said that you will be able to earn these rewards three times a day by fighting other players, but can continue to earn progress towards medals (who will track your wins in each of the three different leagues) as much as you want. The end of a match will also give you the opportunity to re-match the same opponent or send them a friend request if you are not already friends. Fight against a player is also a new option for you once during a friendship session, like fighting in a raid or exchanging gifts.
Players will also be able to practice fighting against AI-controlled versions of the three Team Leaders (Blanche, Candela and Spark), which are also available through the Match tab on the shortcut menu. Once a day, players can also earn rewards from this training method (with the same potential prizes as betting against real players) as well as progress towards the previously retired Ace Trainer medal. Each team leader will always have the same defined set of Pokemon (with another team for each league), like fighting against training leaders in the main game.
Choose your fighter
Pokemon Go Trainer Battles is 1 v. 1 and each player uses a team of three Pokemon. After a match has begun, choose your team just like in Raid Battles. A set of Pokemon will be recommended to you and can be exchanged manually or you can choose from one of your prefabricated pre-prepared players.
You will not be able to choose Ditto or Shedinja, but some other Pokemon (including mythical and legendary) are fair games.
But before you can choose your team Pokemon, you must decide which league you want to fight in. Trainer Battles allows you to decide between three leagues: Pokemon must have 1500 CP or below
This is where the Pokemon Go Trainer Battles introduces the most possible strategy. Since you can not see opponents teams in advance, you will choose smart all-round attackers, and you should also be careful when exercising Pokemon if you want to keep your CP value low enough to fight in a particular league.
With the addition of another Charge Move, Niantic said it would add a Pokemon CP Preview so you know what their new CP value would be before using Stardust and Candy to use Kraft them up.
CP and move sets will be the most important factors in combat, as no items can be used during combat, and Pokemon will not be able to dodge as in Gym or Raid battles.
While you'll see weather effects in the background like rain or snowfall, Pokemon will not be reinforced by the current weather during thunder battles.
Niantic did not confirm a specific release date for Trainer Battles but suggested they could start as soon as next week and will def. First, you should be out before the end of the month.
Our demo used a development building, which meant that we still do not know any other aspects of Trainer Battles. The cost of unlocking an additional attack was not final; We saw the costs ranging from 15 Stardust and 2 Candy to 250,000 each, but all the numbers were placeholder and not indicative of the actual amount.
The total match timer that was set to four minutes during our games and was only shown for the last 20 seconds was also under development according to Niantic representatives at the event and may change before the final release.
The building we played featured a new Trainer Battle theme loader screen that will probably start with the feature, as well as some Sinnoh Pokemon that has not yet been released, but Niantic has not commented when any of them actually come to the game.
For now, Trainer Battles looks like they will be an approximate way to introduce the feature, and the paired down teams of three Pokemon (as opposed to six in the main games) are in line with the simplified mechanics Go players are used to to. In the short term, they are also sure to be a relief for players looking for more ways to earn Sinnoh Stones, but their ultimate success will depend on whether the communities decide to organize tournaments or whether Pokemon Go is ever incorporated into official competitive events.
Most importantly, Niantic's leading software engineer Rob Giusti and Product Manager Matt Slemon suggested that Trainer Battles is just the beginning of what the team wants to achieve in a competitive mode. The couple told us that more complex features can come forward when the game continues to evolve, including "more strategies to master, more ways to find competition and more ways to win."