Pokémon GO Updates: New Buddy System & More Confirmed

The Pokémon GO phenomenon begun this summer. Millions downloaded the new iPhone and Android game. High interest led to a prolonged roll-out and some very, very frustrating issues earlier on. Now developer Niantic Labs is ready to start building on the platform it established with the game’s initial release. It’s starting to  add in new features with Pokémon GO updates.

Already, Pokémon GO allows users to roam towns in search of Pokémon to add to their Pokedex and evolve over time. The game uses GPS tracking technology to do this. Every device’s rear-facing camera allows Pokémon to appear as if they’re near users too.

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Pokémon GO Features Confirmed

Pokémon Partners

With its first major update to Pokémon GO this fall, Niantic Labs is adding a new Buddy feature that’ll sound familiar to anyone that played Pokémon Yellow.

Yellow was a special edition game that focused on Pikachu and his relationship to the franchise. Rather than retreat to a PokeBall, the Pokémon free roamed around with the player. In effect, he was the player’s partner. The mechanic was directly inspired by the relationship Ash Ketchum enjoys with his Pikachu.

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Capture

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Pokémon GO’s Buddy System will mirror this. Players will see the creature they decide on walk beside their in-game avatar like that Pikachu in Pokémon Yellow. As users roam the world in search of new creatures, their Buddy Pokémon will drop new candies that can be used to evolve it into its next form. In effect, Niantic is solving two major problems. Candies for some creatures are very hard to come by. Also the game will feel just a bit more personal.

In the blog post revealing the feature, Niantic only hits at a launch for the feature sometime this fall.

Pokémon GO Features Under Consideration

Niantic Labs CEO John Hanke discussed what’s planned for the mobile game in an interview over the summer. Here’s what Hanke told Business Insider players can expect to see in future Pokémon GO updates.

Pokémon Trading is Coming for Trainers

It was nothing short of a tragedy for gamers when Niantic Labs confirmed that Pokémon GO wouldn’t allow users to trade creatures. At the time, many wrote the game off, underscoring just how essential trading is in the franchise. With other franchise games, trading is just as important as capturing creatures. In fact, every game in the series has creatures that are specific to it, forcing users to buy two copies of the game or trade with their friends to fully complete their Pokedex.

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Read: New Pokémon GO Release Date Details Disappoint  

Hanke says that’s one of the biggest things that Niantic Labs has plans to address in future Pokémon GO updates. The interview doesn’t go into any detail about how trading will work or whether any mechanics will be introduced along with it. In the other games it’s pretty simple. Users swap any creature in their collection for another creature in someone else’s regardless of level and abilities. Trainers that haven’t ranked up enough to properly tame a high-level Pokémon can stash them away in a computer system for safe keeping.

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Leaderboards

The competition element is key to the franchise too, but very underrepresented in Pokémon GO. With other Pokémon games, you can battle your way to bragging rights. Right now, you have to settle for battling the creatures that players leave behind at their Team’s Gyms.

With one of its future Pokémon GO updates, Niantic Labs plans to implement a system for tracking who’s doing better in the game. The scores will be represented in Leaderboards, though Hanke doesn’t go into any detail about what statistics the company will track.

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Read: 6 Pokémon GO Problems & Fixes

Improved PokeStops and Gyms

According to Hanke, the Gyms and PokeStops that players visit today aren’t close to what the company has envisioned for the future.

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Pokemon Go Battle Images (1)

Coming sometime in the future is the ability to “customize their functions in other ways,” The CEO says. Today, PokeStops are a free way to collect Eggs and the Poke Balls that players need to go out and capture more Pokémon for their collection. Users simply head to the landmarks and spin the center of a stylized Pokémon logo with a picture of the landmark inside.

Better Augmented Reality Capabilities

Lastly, users can expect improvements in Pokémon GO’s most signature mechanic, its ability to overlay characters around users in real-world locations. The game makes it look like you’re in the same room as a Pokémon using your device’s camera and compass.

Pokemon Go Battle Images (2)

Niantic is working to improve the game’s real-world overlays with future Pokémon GO updates, but we’re unsure of what these improvements will include. The game already forces players to look around them and find the creatures they’re trying to capture. Only by moving your phone around the area can you spot the creatures. Once found, users need to fling PokeBalls at them to complete the capture. Right now, this functionality is optional.

Read: 6 Pokémon GO Tips to Level Up Faster

Though Pokémon GO is certainly the biggest smartphone game to launch in recent months, it won’t be the last time that users get excited for a Pokémon game. Besides the Pokémon GO release, Nintendo’s own Pokémon Company plans to launch Pokémon Sun and Moon for users that have or are willing to purchase a Nintendo 3DS or Nintendo 2DS. Those games are scheduled to launch this November.

12 Pokémon Go Facts & Features From Testers & Players

PokeStops & Gym Locations

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PokeStops & Gym Locations

A recent question and answer session on the Silph Road confirms that Pokémon Go currently uses 30% to 50% of portals that were present in Niantic’s last game, Ingress. Pokémon Go maps these over real-world landmarks that players have to walk to.

PokeStops and Gyms are real-world locations that players go to pick up items and battle the creatures left behind by other trainers. Police departments are already warning players of the game to stay away from their stations, according to VG247.

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