I maintain that all of the recent Pokemon popularity we’ve seen this year, even more so compared to the high baseline popularity has maintained for over two decades, is in reaction to the astronomic success of Pokemon Go. Earlier this month we reviewed Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee which merge Pokemon Go’s mobile connectivity and casual catching mechanic with the structure of a traditional Pokemon RPG. And if that’s too much gameplay for you, you can also watch the captivating trailer for the live-action Pokemon: Detective Pikachu feature film in real movie theaters next year.
But all this time Pokemon Go itself has also been steadily humming along, adding new monsters from new generations as well as layering on new mechanics like gyms and trading and raid battles. While Pokemon Let’s Go tried to turn a real Pokemon game into Go, Go has been turning into a real Pokemon game. And its next evolution is coming soon with the addition of PvP trainer battles.
Battling other trainers is a core tenet of Pokemon. The whole point is to capture creatures, train them, and prove they are better than the ones your scrub friends got. But so far Pokemon Go has been limited to PvE (player vs environment) encounters like catching wild Pokemon or battling Pokemon someone had previously left behind in a gym.
Niantic had been teasing trainer battles for nearly a year. But this tweet, while not confirming a date, finally lets us know that the feature is for sure coming soon. There are still a lot of details to learn though, like how players trigger these battles and what the battle system looks like exactly. How much competitive training strategy from “real” Pokemon games will carry over? With trainer battles, what meaningful differences will there be left between Pokemon Go and “real” Pokemon games?