After a few teases, Niantic recently confirmed that PvP Trainer Battles are coming to Pokemon Go. Now, the developer has announced even more details about how Trainer Battles will work, who can participate, and more. We also went hands-on with a demo version of these battles, which currently don’t have a firm release date–though they are set to arrive in Pokemon Go soon.
Functionally, Trainer Battles work similarly to Gym or Raid Battles in Pokemon Go. They are more or less real-time and require you to tap the screen to attack, which builds up a stronger “charge attack” that you can unleash for a ton of damage. There are a few differences, however. There’s no dodging; instead, before your opponent uses a charge attack, you’ll have the option to use a Protect shield to block it. You have a limited number of these per battle (we had two in the demo), so timing their use properly and considering the Pokemon in play adds a bit of strategy to the simple tapping system.
As previously announced, there are three “leagues” to help make Trainer Battles accessible to all levels of player. The Great league is capped at 1500 CP, the Ultra league caps at 2500, and the Master league has no CP limit. Before battling, you can set a battle party in each of the divisions. You’re allowed three Pokemon per party, rather than the traditional six; Niantic representatives said that six-Pokemon battles dragged on far too long for an on-the-go game. Trainer Battles also have a current time limit of 240 seconds to avoid overlong matches. Note that while Legendary Pokemon are permitted, Ditto and Shedinja won’t be allowed in Trainer Battles at launch.
You can battle either in-person or remotely, though long-distance battles have more limitations. You can only battle with faraway friends you’ve been friends with for a while–specifically, you have to be Ultra Friends or above in Pokemon Go. In person, you can battle anyone, even if you aren’t friends in the game, just by scanning a QR code in a new battle menu. You also have the option of battling one of the three NPC team leaders for practice.
One of the best things about the new Trainer Battle system is that there’s no reason not to do it. Both winner and loser get rewards, and each one has the same chance to get a particularly rare item: a Sinnoh Stone, which is used for evolving certain Gen 4 Pokemon. While there’s no limit to the number of battles per day, you’re limited to three rewards per day when battling real people and one reward per day from the NPC battles. On top of that, the game tracks wins but not losses, and you won’t need any healing items post-battle like you do after Gym and Raid Battles, so there’s really no downside to battling.
Finally, the update will introduce the ability to unlock a second charge attack on any Pokemon using Stardust and candy, though the exact resource cost hasn’t been confirmed. The second attack can be used in any type of battle, and it affords you more flexibility with a Pokemon and the type matchups it’s prepared for.
No release date for Pokemon Go’s Trainer Battles has been announced, but a Niantic representative told GameSpot that the update “will begin to roll out to players worldwide later this month.” While you wait, Niantic is bringing back six Legendaries for December’s Field Research tasks, so it’s a good time to stock up on strong Pokemon.