Each week on Twitch and Alpha, hosts Erika Ishii and Trisha Hershberger talk video games with special industry guests, insightful coverage and a ton of audience interaction on our show Game Engine. Be sure to tune in every Tuesday starting at 4 PM PT to learn about what’s new and cool in the world of video games.
Two years ago the Pokémon franchise made the jump to our phones and tablets with Pokémon Go. Fans could enjoy catching Pokémon as an augmented reality game; getting to see Pikachus and Bulbasaurs roaming their neighborhood streets, just waiting to be stuffed into a tiny ball for battle later.
Originally the gameplay was very limited; only allowing you to catch and level up your Pokémon. Niantic eventually added gym battles, trading, and the ability to have a particular Pokémon walk with you to gain experience, but there was always something lacking: trainer battles.
It could be argued that heart and soul of the game is all about testing your trainer skills against others in the quest to prove you are the very best, so it’s a surprise that Niantic took so long to institute this feature, but we don’t have to wait much longer. On December 4th Niantic announced they will finally be adding trainer battles to Pokémon Go!
These trainer battles can be initiated by challenging another trainer with your Battle Code and will give both participants exciting rewards including rare Evolution items. You can choose any three of your Pokémon to form a battle team, but to keep everything fair, there is a league system. The Trainer Battle Leagues come in three levels, Great, Ultra and Master, and control the CP limit for the participating Pokémon. This means that you’ll only be able to choose team members of certain levels and sheer strength isn’t going to cut it in the fights. You’ll need to work on getting your Pokémon some awesome movies and plan your strategies accordingly.
The battles will have a timer of four minutes and will happen in real time. If the clock runs down before someone is knocked out then the trainer with the most health remaining wins. The real-time element adds a level of exciting challenge as you’ll need to watch your opponent carefully and be ready to counter those big Charged Attacks. You’ll have access to a limited number of Protect Shields and knowing when to use them is a key part of the fight.
Another awesome aspect of this new update is that trainer battles will not only allow for local challenges, but also remote battles. You can initiate a battle with people on your friends list who have reached Ultra and Best friends status no matter where they’re located. This is fantastic as I am hardly ever in the same room as one of my Pokémon Go pals.
If you’d rather hone your fighting skills in private you can challenge one of the Team leaders: Spark, Candela, and Blanche. Team leaders will give you a reward for challenging them once per day and the battles will help you progress towards winning an Ace Trainer medal.
With this announcement, it’s more important than ever to engage all aspects of the game from capturing and training powerful Pokémon to giving gifts to your friends and earning your way into best friend status.
Unfortunately, Niantic announced that Trainer Battles will be released in stages with only level 40 trainers having access at first. This allows the company to test the feature out on a smaller group before we all descend upon their servers like ravenous battle-crazed sharks, but it means we lower level sharks…I mean trainers must wait a bit longer for our chance to prove our skills.
Trainer battles promise to make Pokémon Go a more robust and exciting game; bringing the experience more in line with the well-loved console games. As trainer battles grow ever nearer, who will you choose to put in your battle team? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to tune into Game Engine on Twitch and Alpha for more video game goodness every Tuesday starting at 4PM PT.
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Hailing from New York, Jessica Fisher is a writer, artist, and all around geek. In addition to Geek & Sundry, she writes for Gameosity.com and produces the Gameosity Reviews Youtube Channel. Find her talking about all things geeky on Twitter as @miniktty.