The ability to trade Pokémon with your friends is finally coming to Pokémon Go. It will arrive in the next week or so, with a new friends list feature locked in for this week.
Trading has been a highly-requested feature since the app launched two years ago - but getting it working fairly, safely and without breaking the game's balance has been a major sticking point.
In a demo session attended by Eurogamer at E3 last week, developer Niantic showed off the new trading system and explained how it would all work.
First off, to trade Pokémon with another player you'll need to add them via the all-new friend system. This means swapping a Trainer code with a pal and sending them a friend request, which they can then confirm or deny. Friends lists will initially be capped at 200 people.
Trading requires you and your friend to be at least level 10 and in close proximity (Niantic has set this at 100m). You'll also need to pay a cost in Stardust to complete the trade. This cost will be dramatically reduced if you are better friendship level with the person you're trading with - the example given by Niantic was a whopping 1m Stardust to trade Legendaries dropping down to just 40k.
You will need to be a high level friend to trade legendary or shiny Pokémon, or anything not already in your friend's Pokédex. Even then, this will count as a "Special Trade" - which you can only perform once with any friend in a specific day.
Trading will also gift you candy (depending on how far apart the two Pokémon were caught) and will vary the stats of each Pokémon slightly when they arrive at their respective destinations. Stat changes can vary widely, but can be narrowed when trading with better friends.
You can increase your friendship level by battling together at gyms or in raids or sending gifts (more on that in a moment). Like gym badge levels, friendship has four ranks - Good, Great, Ultra and Best.
As well as lowering the Stardust cost of trading, increasing your friendship level will net you extra raid balls when raiding with a friend, and attack bonuses when taking down gyms and while raiding together.
Don't expect to become Best Friends instantly, however - you can only increase your friendship level with someone once per day, and Niantic said that Best Friend level was designed to take several months to accomplish.
Finally, then, sending gifts - a new feature available when you spin a Pokéstop. Pokéstop spins will sometimes generate a gift bundle which you can then send to a friend. These bundles will include standard in-game items but can also include an all-new 7km egg, which will contain an Alolan form Pokémon. Niantic confirmed that some Alolan Pokémon will be exclusive to these 7km eggs - and, of course, some will be rarer than others.
If the above dozen paragraphs of explanation don't make it clear, Trading has obviously been a tough thing for Niantic to wrangle - because so much of Pokémon Go's gameplay is about hunting down or spending time and effort raiding, and the ability to trade shortcuts it all.
Niantic closed the session by mentioning that the new friend system was just the start, and hinted at future features which might be based off of it. Player-versus-player battling, another long-requested feature, would fit.