Niantic shared with us new details on the newly announced Trainer Battles feature that will be rolling out to Pokémon Go worldwide later in December. Players will soon be able to participate in type-based three-on-three trainer battles with friends, nearby opponents, and artificial intelligence Team Leaders.
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To commence a battle, trainers can challenge nearby opponents using the new Battle Code invitation system. This is done by looking under the Nearby tab and then physically scanning their QR code. A screen will then pop up prompting the opposing trainer with “Let’s do it!” or “No, thanks.”
Players can challenge online friends remotely as long as they’ve reached the Ultra friendship level or higher. Battling can also increase your friendship level with other trainers.
A.I. Team Leaders are available for Solo Battles as well, which may be a suitable option for younger trainers since Niantic has said that you must be older than 13 years old to participate in Trainer Battles.
Battles are not turn-based but unfold in real time, requiring trainers to tap on their screens to launch Fast Attacks that power up Charged Attacks. Once a charged ability is full, tapping on it will start a mini-game where trainers use rhythmic taps to their screen to build up the power of the attack.
The cadence of the taps will dictate the amount of damage done, amping up the intensity of battle as players decide whether to block an opponent’s upcoming attack using a Protect Shield. Each trainer only has three shields available per battle.
Each Trainer Battle has a time limit of about four minutes but Niantic has said this could be subject to change depending on player feedback. Niantic has also confirmed that the Charged Attack pool will remain the same during the Trainer Battle feature launch, but players can unlock an extra Charged Attack that can be used across Trainer Battles, Raids and Gym Battles.
Each Trainer Battle requires trainers to select a league. There are three leagues players can choose from that are defined by CP limits. Great League has a limit of 1,500, Ultra League has a limit of 2,500, and Master League has no limit. Niantic has expressed that Master League may be of particular interest to trainers that want to use their legendary Pokémon during battle.
Players can assemble their preferred roster of Pokémon for each league prior to battle but instead of the classic team of six, battles will be played with teams of three. Swapping Pokémon out of your teams will have a cooldown so trainers are advised to choose their Battle Parties wisely.
Both winners and losers will earn a reward for participating in a battle, with the primary reward being Stardust and Candy. We also saw Sinnoh Stones shown as a possible reward during our preview, though Niantic confirmed it will maintain the same rarity it presently has and that the reward table will likely change over time.
Rewards are limited to three per day for trainer vs trainer battles and one per day for Team Leader battles, though trainers can participate in as many battles as they’d like.
Trainers that battle against Team Leaders can work towards an Ace Trainer badge, and can additionally earn badges for achievements made while battling in the three Battle Leagues.
Battle-themed field researches will not be part of the Trainer Battles launch but could be a possibility in the future, as well as other more complex mechanics. When asked if any new shinies would be added alongside the Trainer Battles launch, Niantic responded with no comment.
Trainer Battles will be arriving to Pokémon GO later this month, and at the moment, there is no confirmed launch date. We do know that it will be rolled out in a similar style as previous features, starting with level 40 trainers first.
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