Pokémon Go is getting more personal this week with the advent of buddy Pokémon, a feature that invites the characters to sidle up to their trainers. It’s a system that could bring lapsed trainers back into the fold as it simplifies annoying processes and fosters that special human-Pokémon connection the game’s been missing since launch.
What is a buddy Pokémon?
A buddy Pokémon is exactly as it sounds: a Pokémon the player wants to befriend. What this really amounts to is a special place on the trainer profile screen, standing alongside the player avatar.
What can I do with a buddy Pokémon?
Selecting a Pokémon from a player’s collection happens in the trainer profile menu; there’s an option to choose alongside the journal and customization tools. Once selected, that Pokémon will appear next to the trainer avatar, but more importantly, walking around and playing Pokémon Go as normal will earn special candies.
What do I need candy for, again?
We’ve explained this before, and longtime Pokémon Go players will already know this, but: Candy is necessary for evolving or powering up your monsters. The only way to amass candies is by catching repeat Pokémon — or by walking around with one as your special buddy.
That makes buddy Pokémon especially useful for strengthening rarer finds. If you’ve been dying to evolve your starter Pokémon — be it Charmander or Pikachu — but have never found one in the wild, choosing it as your buddy will net you the candy needed to eventually get that Charmeleon or Raichu.
How far do I have to walk to collect candy?
In a sense, Pokémon Go is as much of a fitness motivational tool as it is a game, and the buddy Pokémon feature goes a long way in promoting that. Stats site Poké Assistant has data on how many kilometers a player must walk to earn a single candy for their buddy. (Some players have reported the occasional two-candy pickup, however.) These vary from one at the least to three at the most for rarer, stronger Pokémon — often ones who don’t need to evolve anyway.
Developer Niantic is also known for its community teases, including a few Easter eggs referencing the wider Pokémon franchise. One such secret players have already discovered is that, if a trainer walks for 10 kilometers with Pikachu as their buddy, the character will move on up to their shoulder instead of standing on the ground next to their avatar. This is a cosmetic change only visible on the trainer profile page, but it’s nifty nonetheless.
This sounds pretty neat! When can I check it out?
The update is rolling out to iOS and Android now. If your game hasn’t updated to the latest version yet, be patient; it’s coming very soon!