Pokemon Go to introduce buddy system with next update

While the number of active users has been on a slight decline over the last few weeks, Pokemon Go still maintains a significant user base, and remains a big hit for developer Niantic Labs. We've known for a while now about new features coming to the game in the near future, including new Pokemon and gameplay mechanics, thanks to various data-mining attempts into the app's code, but now Niantic has specifically announced an anticipated feature that will debut later this fall.

REMINDER: We detailed this Pokemon Buddy system last week! Stick around SlashGear for more Pokemon GO information BEFORE it's announced officially!

Called "Buddy Pokemon," it's the ability for a player to choose one of their favorite Pokemon for a more in-depth relationship. Basically, you choose one to be your best friend, kind of like Ash and Pikachu in the original Pokemon anime series.

This is more than just a silly gimmick, however, as it's meant to introduce a new game dynamic. Niantic explains that pairing a Buddy Pokemon with a Trainer will give players "unique in-game rewards and experiences," along with earning candy when the pair walk together. Buddy Pokemon will be displayed alongside players' avatar on the Trainer profile screen (see our mock-up above), and can be switched at any time.

In the Pokemon games released for Nintendo's handheld systems over the years, Buddy Pokemon can assist players in catching new Pokemon they find in specific ways, and the mechanic also plays a part in leveling up certain creatures.

Niantic didn't go into detail about how such features might be implemented into Pokemon Go, but they did say that the buddy system update is just around the corner. Sounds like we'll be picking our buddies before the end of fall!