Hands on with Pokemon Go’s new Buddy features

Pokemon Go looks very different now from how it looked at launch a few years ago. There have been a ton of new features added over time, including raids, trading, PVP battles, Team Go Rocket battles, research, and more. But one I feel players tend to take for granted is the Buddy mechanic. For many, it’s a “set and forgets” sort of thing. And while it’s nice to have another way to get candies for your rare Pokemon, it always sort of existed in the background. 

But now, all of this has changed thanks to the new Buddy Adventure feature. Buddies still have the effect they had before, but now with a lot more. One major addition is that you can use AR mode to play with and feed your Buddy Pokemon, much like the mechanics the main series introduced in X and Y. The happier your Pokemon is, the more benefits you’ll unlock. Your Buddy Pokemon will start following you on the map, and if you keep them well-fed and do activities with them, they’ll give you bonuses in battle and when trying to catch new Pokemon. The new mechanic is quite fun, even if it is rather basic in practice; it really promotes the emotional connection between trainer and Pokemon, a concept that’s been key to the lore of the franchise from day one.

Another new feature associated with Buddy Adventure allows multiple users to share an AR view of their buddies. So, if I take out my Pignite and my friend takes out his Turtwig, in this mode, we would both see both Pignite and Turtwig in the same place the other person sees them. It’s a really cool idea, but sadly, I haven’t been able to test it out yet; the feature requires AR+ to be enabled, and my friends’ phones don’t currently support that mode. It sounds like a fun idea, though, even if AR+ is still a little shaky. For full details, check out the official blog post here.