Three years ago, gaming giant Nintendo and mobile game developer Niantic Labs rolled out the first teaser for “Pokémon Go”, a mobile-based gaming app using GPS and augmented reality to simulate players travelling through their surroundings to find and catch the titular Pokémon (Pocket Monsters) to raise and pit against battle for control of Gym locations around the world. The app that was released in 2016 was a viral hit that got people walking and socializing, but eventually fell into a niche market due to many features promised in the teaser not being implemented. Niantic has been steadily adding these functions since launch, but one feature remained elusive: player battles.
Many lapsed players of “Pokémon Go” feel that the game would have been in the limelight longer if it managed to introduce player vs. player competition reflected in the “trainer battles” of the original Nintendo titles earlier. As Polygon tells it, the stalwart fans of the app that are still playing it may soon have their wish as Niantic pushes to launch PVP for “Pokémon Go” before December is out. Already details are being revealed on how player battles will happen in the app, and the mechanics might surprise gamers.
When implemented, “Pokémon Go” PVP will pit players against one another in one-on-one trainer matches, each player fielding three Pokémon in his roster. Players can initially battle locally, meaning they must next to each other, by swapping their unique “Battle Codes” via QR scan. Once a battle starts, the player’s Pokémon fight each other one at a time in real time. The battle mechanics are the same with Gym battles and Raids, with players tapping or holding down on Move icons in the screen. Battles are decided when a player’s last Pokémon is beaten, or whichever player has the most Pokémon with more health when the battle clock runs out.
Other quirks of the new “Pokémon Go” PVP include three “Trainer League” divisions to restrict Pokémon CP levels for more balanced fights. In addition, players who are on each other’s Friend Lists with a rating of “Best Friends” or better, can battle one another online without needing to be physically present to each other. Players can also challenge NPCs to battle in the form of the three Team Leader characters: Candela of Team Valor, Blanche of Team Mystic, and Spark from Team Instinct. Interestingly, both players will get prizes after the match, win or lose.
With how long it took for this key element of the Pokémon franchise experience to reach “Pokémon Go”, it is hard to tell if the advent of player battles will reignite massive interest in the mobile game app. Niantic also has no plans to organize actual player tournaments beyond what is offered in the game.
Images: Pokémon Blog, The Verge