Starting in early 2020, Niantic will let Pokémon Go players compete against each other online in a new Go Battle League for the mobile game. Niantic says the league will let you battle players from around the globe using a matchmaking system, and that it will feature ranks that you’ll have to rise up through.
Keep in mind, this won’t be the first time Pokémon Go has let you battle other players, but the current Trainer Battles feature is much more limited in scope and doesn’t give players as much variety in gameplay. Unless you’ve reached an “Ultra” or “Best” friend ranking with another player (a process which takes 30 days at a minimum, assuming you’re up for the grinnd) then you can only battle players in your immediate vicinity. The Go Battle League has a more global focus, and it sounds like you could be matched against players regardless of location.
Pokémon Go’s PvP system breaks Pokémon up into different divisions based on their CP, meaning that players have to carefully coordinate which Pokémon to power up and which to leave at certain levels in order to make the tier cut-offs. Many Pokémon that aren’t great in PvE content like raids are considered great in PvP, like Altered Forme Giratina.
Niantic didn’t exactly go into detail regarding the player-vs-player feature’s mechanics, only that “trainers will be able to walk in order to earn entry” and that participants will be ranked. The feature will roll out sometime in early 2020, but the company promises to share more details in a video soon.
This new feature is slated to hit in early 2020. It isn’t too surprising that Niantic is putting more resources into creating a better battle system in Pokémon Go, since the game had its own exhibition match tournament at the Pokémon World Championships this year.
Trainer battles allow for one-on-one matches against either another player or a computer-controlled opponent, with each side bringing a team of three Pokémon (called their battle party) into the arena with them. A timer is set for four minutes; whoever knocks out the other player first wins. If both players still have Pokémon remaining by the time the clock runs out, the winner will be the trainer whose Pokémon have the most health remaining. No matter who wins, each person will receive prizes, like the elusive Sinnoh Stones.
The time limit is designed to let players get through numerous battles in a day, as opposed to standing around in a lengthy slog of a fight, a Niantic spokesperson explained. The idea is to encourage players to engage in as many battles as possible on a regular basis — so the shorter the battle, the better.
Trainer battles otherwise work the same way as gym and Raid battles, with players swiping and tapping on the screen to attack each other in real time. Niantic will also add an additional charge attack into the game, so that players have a little more strategy to work with; they can also use a special shield to defend against other players.
That being said, Niantic said the focus is heavily on community-based interaction. There are three different leagues that have different CP limits so that players with varying types of Pokémon can still compete; and there’s also a training mode that lets players get themselves battle-ready against the three team leaders: Candela, Blanche and Spark. But the main focus is for friends new and old to test their skills against each other in person, coming up with their own local league and tournament rules and increasing their friendship levels.