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Pokémon Go buddy system guide: perks and friendship levels

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Grow closer to your favorite Pokémon by playing with them

A hand holds up a phone, that has a Squirtle eating a berry on it Image: Niantic via Polygon

Pokémon Go’s latest update revamps the buddy system, allowing players to make more use of their partnered Pokémon.

Players are able to level up their friendship levels with their Pokémon, unlocking benefits as their friendship levels up. Similarly to leveling up friendship with real life friends, it’s broken into tiers: Good, Great, Ultra, and Best Friends.

What do the different friendship levels do?

When your buddy reaches specific milestones, they’re able to help you out by bringing you items and even get CP boosts.

  • Good Buddy (requires 1 total heart): Walk with you on the map view screen
  • Great Buddy (requires 70 total hearts): Helps out catching Pokémon and brings you items
  • Ultra Buddy (requires 150 total hearts): Alerts you of “interesting places nearby” and brings Souvenirs
  • Best Buddy (requires 300 total hearts): Gets a special ribbon and gets a CP boost in combat as long as they’re set at your buddy

You can only earn up to 10 hearts per Pokémon a day (unless your Pokémon is as maximum happiness), so you’ll have to grind it out for a while to become Best buddies.

How to earn Pokémon hearts and raise friendship level

There are several things you can do to earn hearts. After feeding your buddy berries, it’ll gain a heart and begin to walk with you. Once it’s walking with you, there are several things you can do to earn more hearts.

Here’s a complete list of the things you can do every day to earn hearts:

  • Walk two kilometers together (up to three times a day) - Walk your buddy. They’ll need to be following you for this distance to count. If they’re not following you, you’ll still earn candies for your buddy based on distance.
  • Give your buddy a treat (up to three times a day) - Feed your buddy. You’ll need to wait until their hunger meter is low before feeding a second time.
  • Play together (once a day) - While looking at your buddy in AR mode, simply rub the top of its head. This counts as “playing together.”
  • Battle together (once a day) - Take your buddy into a trainer battle or fight against a gym. Your buddy doesn’t need to fight themselves, they just need to be in the team you select.
  • Take a snapshot (once a day) - This can be done in AR mode by tapping the camera icon at the bottom of the screen.
  • Visit a new place (once a day) - Spin a PokéStop you haven’t been to before with your buddy.

If you don’t want to battle with your Pokémon, you can start a battle against a Team Leader, like Spark or Candela, with your buddy in your team. You can quit the battle immediately and it’ll still give your buddy the heart.

How to make a Pokémon “excited”? (Settle down.)

You can check your Pokémon’s mood by bringing up the buddy screen. If there’s a happy face with hearts around it, they’ve reached the maximum happiness level, which means they’re excited. Excited Pokémon will get candy twice as fast from walking and will earn double hearts.

Feeding your Pokémon a Poffin, an item that can be bought for 100 coins in the shop, will make them excited for six hours. Players have also been reporting that spinning over 20 new PokéStops will trigger this, but the exact number is unknown. From a resource standpoint, 100 coins is pretty steep for a single Poffin, considering the benefits, so we’d suggest saving those coins for other purposes (like increasing inventory space).

Which buddy Pokémon should you walk?

It depends on what you need.

If you need candy, you should continue to walk with Pokémon that you need candy for. If you’re low on Larvitar candy and you’re trying to power up your Tyranitar, consider walking with it a bit.

Another option is to walk with Pokémon that you want the Best Buddy CP bonus on. Set a good attacker like Chandelure as your buddy and rake in both candy and a power boost once you hit the highest friendship level.

The last option is just to walk with whatever Pokémon you like. If you think Ferroseed’s rolling animation is funny, use that. If you can’t stand to be apart from your Shiny Bulbasaur, that’s fine, too. Live your truth!