Pokémon Go has one final big update due before the end of 2019. This time, it's all about making your favourite Pokémon feel as close to you as Ash to a certain Pikachu.
Buddy Adventure will let you level up your friendship with your buddy Pokémon to unlock some seriously useful perks - including a CP boost in combat.
Your buddy will also walk/fly/roll alongside you on the map, bring you gifts and signal there's something interesting hiding nearby.
You'll level up your buddy friendship via earning affection. This can be via petting and feeding, taking snapshots, battling with your buddy or simply walking with them on the map.
This sounds like it will affect two things - your Pokémon's mood and Buddy Level.
Interact with your buddy and its mood will increase until it hits top "excited" level. At this point, you'll earn candy twice as fast while walking your buddy, and double hearts to boost up your Buddy Level.
Buddy Levels, meanwhile, look similar to in-game friend levels:
- Good Buddy: Your buddy will join you on your map, and appear on the new Buddy Profile page.
- Great Buddy: Your buddy can also appear in Pokémon encounters and bring you items.
- Ultra Buddy: Your buddy will point out "interesting places" nearby and bring you Souvenirs - new items found on the Buddy Profile page.
- Best Buddy: Your buddy will sport a Best Buddy Ribbon and gain a CP boost in combat while still assigned as your buddy.
There's no firm release day yet for Pokémon Go's Buddy Adventure update, but its files are now waiting in the game and ready to go. We'd expect it very soon and Niantic says it will launch "by 2020".
Its clear this has been a big undertaking for Niantic, and one which has taken some time. A developer insights blog has pointed to some of the quirks in designing this feature for all of the hundreds of possible Pokémon - taking into account how they move on the map, how they can be fed (some Pokémon have more than one mouth, for example) and where on each Pokémon's body each should sport their Best Buddy ribbon.
One feature missing from the update for now is the previously-detailed multiplayer AR mode where you can pet and feed other people's buddies - this is still in development, but due in the New Year.