When are Trainer Battles coming to Pokemon Go? That’s the question on every Go fan’s mind at the moment, but so far Niantic has refrained from commenting too much on the long-awaited feature. After two years in the making, Trainer Battles are set to introduce one of the most infamous aspects of the mainline Pokemon series to Niantic’s popular mobile game, but this astronomical change will be occurring much sooner than fans seem to realize. Here’s everything you need to know about Pokemon Go Trainer Battles, including the Pokemon Go Trainer Battles release date and details on how Trainer Battles work in Pokemon Go.
When Are Trainer Battles Coming to Pokemon Go?
If you want to know when Trainer Battles are coming to Pokemon Go, you’re in luck. Although an official release date hasn’t been announced, it has been revealed that the first wave of Trainer Battles will be implemented into Pokemon Go before the end of the month—if not the end of the week. The official Pokemon Go Twitter page posted the following tweet on Sunday:
Community note: When we release Pokémon GO Trainer Battles, we will be rolling out the feature in stages, starting with level 40 Trainers. We do this so that we can confirm the feature is running smoothly before we begin to release the feature out to more Trainers.
— Pokémon GO (@PokemonGoApp) December 9, 2018
Niantic will be launching Trainer Battles in stages, just like they did with other big features in the past like Raids and Pokemon Trading. In the same thread of tweets, Niantic continued: “While this means that Trainers of lower levels will have to wait before they can access this feature, we follow this process to ensure that there are no major disruptions during your #GOBattle experience!” As a result, it seems clear that Niantic is utilizing this roll-out release technique in order to test the Trainer Battles servers alongside incrementally increasing rates of traffic. Only the top trainers will be able to compete at first, but before long the servers will be stable enough for all trainers level 10 and above to compete in Trainer Battles. However, competing in Trainer Battles has obstacles of its own, too.
When Are Trainer Battles Coming to Pokemon Go? Who Can I Battle?
Niantic has confirmed that when Trainer Battles come to Go, battling people won’t be as easy as you might think. In fact, most of the time you’ll only be able to battle Trainers who are next to you in real life. Like battling Gyms or visiting PokeStops, the interaction radius will be made relatively small, meaning that you won’t be able to challenge your friends from the comfort of your own home (unless they’re over for a visit, that is).
However, there is a solution to this issue, which Niantic were quick to point out on the official Pokemon Go Twitter page:
Keep sending those Gifts, Trainers! While Trainers will usually have to be nearby in order to initiate a Trainer Battle, Ultra and Best Friends can challenge each other from any distance! [4/4] pic.twitter.com/9u5sbJqio0
— Pokémon GO (@PokemonGoApp) December 5, 2018
If you happen to have friends or family in real life—or friends you’ve made through Pokemon Go for that matter—you’ll be able to battle them from anywhere in the world if you’ve managed to secure an Ultra or Best Friend relationship with them. As Niantic advises in the above tweet, your best bet in order to achieve this status with some friends is to keep sending Gifts between now and the launch of Pokemon Go Trainer Battles. If you make some Ultra Friends and Best Friends, you really will be able to battle people from your own living room.
When Are Trainer Battles Coming to Pokemon Go? What If I Live In a Remote Area?
If you live in a remote area and are worried about how you’re going to partake in Trainer Battles when they come to Go soon, don’t worry; Niantic has you covered. Alongside being able to make some Best Friends and Ultra Friends online through the use of social media platforms like Facebook and Reddit, you can also take advantage of some in-game Trainer Battles that will be implemented into Go when the feature launches later this month. Niantic said:
❗ #GOBattle update: Looking to improve your Trainer Battle skills but don’t have anyone nearby to train with you? No worries! When Trainer Battles launch, Trainers will be able to practice battling against team leaders Spark, Candela, and Blanche! [1/3] pic.twitter.com/X09NPzXpvP
— Pokémon GO (@PokemonGoApp) December 7, 2018
Not only can players train with Team Leaders Spark, Candela, and Blanche, but it seems that they’ll actually be rewarded for doing so. The official Pokemon Go Twitter account explained this in the same thread as the above tweet, saying that “while improving your battle skills is its own reward, Trainers who practice battling against one of the team leaders can also earn rewards, such as Stardust, once per day!” That’s not all, though, as apparently “Battle wins gained through this training mode also count toward earning an Ace Trainer medal.” This feature was implemented partially to account for those who won’t be able to battle many trainers in their area, but there are incentives for everyone to utilize the feature no matter how many trainers are in close proximity to them. You’ve got to get that Stardust if you want to compete in the Master Leagues!
Just as there are several different Leagues in Trainer Battles—Great, Ultra, and Master—there are different difficulty settings available for the Team Leader fights. Trainers can select the battle difficulty before facing these trainers and they can battle them any time, anywhere. However, the Stardust reward for doing so can only be gained once per day.
When Are Trainer Battles Coming to Pokemon Go? What’s Different About Pokemon Go Trainer Battles?
When Trainer Battles come to Pokemon Go, things will be different to say the least. Although they technically share a name with the battles from mainline Pokemon games, they’re nothing like the traditional battles that Pokemon players are used to.
As opposed to being turn-based affairs, Trainer Battles in Pokemon Go will take place in real time, similar to the way in which players challenge Gyms and Raid Bosses at present. Tapping the screen allows you to use your Fast Move, which gradually builds your meter to unleash your Charged Attack. However, you’ll also be able to make use of a brand new mechanic: the Protect Shield.
❗ #GOBattle update: Every expert Trainer knows that good defense is key to winning any battle! During Trainer Battles, Trainers can choose to defend against incoming attacks by using a Protect Shield. [1/3] pic.twitter.com/o1SXM7OM80
— Pokémon GO (@PokemonGoApp) December 10, 2018
While this Protect Shield may seem to make your Pokemon invincible, it can only be used a finite number of times and using it isn’t particularly easy. As Niantic point out, “timing is important! If you use your head and keep an eye on your opponent’s moves, deploying a Protect Shield at the right time will save your Pokémon from critical damage.” However, if your timing is off, you’ll just end up wasting one of your few Protect Shields. This marks a distinct change from traditional battles but goes particularly well with Go, as players won’t be able to win by simply spamming Fast Moves. Skilled trainers with good timing and the ability to think one step ahead of their opponent will be at a huge advantage once Trainer Battles launch for Pokemon Go later this month.
❗ #GOBattle update: Save your Candies (and Stardust)! With the launch of Trainer Battles, Trainers will be able to permanently unlock one additional Charged Attack move for each Pokémon! [1/2] pic.twitter.com/2MGV0tOjKp
— Pokémon GO (@PokemonGoApp) December 6, 2018
The last noteworthy change also reinforces the idea of a specific Pokemon Go meta, per se. Although there won’t be any official tournaments—for now, at least—having the ability to learn an extra Charged Attack can make Pokemon unpredictable and capable of covering their weaknesses. This will make Trainer Battles much more interesting than standard battles against Gyms and Raid Bosses, as players will be able to devise specific strategies based on their teams of three and the Charged Attacks they teach their Pokemon.
Trainer Battles will almost definitely be launched for level 40 trainers before the end of December, and provided that everything runs smoothly, they’ll be made available to a wider range of players shortly thereafter.