Pokemon GO PvP, friends update: what to expect

The mainline Pokemon games' success can be boiled down to three core gameplay elements: collection, trading, and battling. Pokemon GO, the real-world "AR" version of that franchise, started out with the first and, as of June this year, added the second. We're still missing out on the last piece which developer Niantic Labs has long promised will come. There's no precise date yet but Niantic is at least assuring players that the year won't end without it.

To be fair, Pokemon GO already does have one type of Pokemon fighting: gym battles. This, however, is partly automated, with the opposing Team's pokemon are simply stationed at gyms and attack based on some basic AI. It definitely doesn't have the feeling of an honest to goodness trainer vs. trainer match.

Niantic still hasn't divulged how its PvP system will play out but anything short of real-time PvP will definitely feel artificial. Then again, that would require both players to be online at the same time, which is perhaps the point anyway. What Niantic EMEA marketing head Anne Beuttenmüller at least confirms to Variety is that the feature will roll out towards the end of 2018.

That, however, won't be the only major change that's coming to the now two-year-old game. Pokemon GO added trading and friend features last June but it was pretty rough. In an upcoming update, players will be able to group friends into lists and even add notes to help you remember these virtual strangers.

And, of course, there's also a new batch of Pokemon coming, though Beuttenmüller was unsurprisingly more coy about that. Last month, however, Niantic itself did tease the Generation 4 Pokemon that will undoubtedly cause a spike in player numbers when they do come out.