I have previously complained that Pokémon GO’s biggest problem, and the reason players are starting to drop like flies, is that the game lacks any sort of coherent endgame. Egg hatching, Pokémon hunting and gym battling all fail to continue to feel rewarding over time due to randomness or poor mechanics. But a Pokémon Buddy system now gives you the very real possibility of “catching them all” because you can essentially grind out any evolution or power level, so long as you have at least one of the base Pokémon.
This is something players can work toward for the long term, as getting enough candy to evolve every base Pokémon, or max out final evolutions, is going to take a hell of a long time. But that’s perfect! The game needs something like this precisely at this moment, a way to keep players engaged and working toward an end objective that actually seems achievable, albeit tough to accomplish.
Make it Rain XP
So far, I’ve only been talking about how you can get to final stage and high CP Pokémon using this system, but you can also use this as a way to grind out XP if you want by focusing on those 12 CP evolutions like Pidgey, Caterpie and Weedle. Given how plentiful those Pokémon are, you could potentially use the new Buddy system to keep grinding out increments of 12 candy, which will positively drown you in XP when you evolve all of these crappy Pokémon at once rather than just a handful as you recycle the rest. The efficiency of this may depend on how fast you get candy, but in theory, it should be a way to reduce those giant XP walls the game starts throwing up post-level 20, if you want to focus on that aspect of the game.
Love Your Pokemon
One of GO’s thematic problems is that for the most part, it lacks connections between you, the trainer and your favorite Pokémon. Sure, you have may have a few exceptions like the high CP Vaporeon or Snorlax or Lapras you use to takeover gyms, but what about…you know, your starter? The one you picked a month and a half ago and never touched since? Now, with the Pokémon Buddy system, you can train specific Pokémon, and with the new appraisal system telling you which ones are the best to focus on, you will feel a connection to that specific Pokémon after you’ve buddy-traveled with it for miles and miles to earn candy to level it up. Again, it’s not quite the same as winning fights and gym battles in the handheld game and getting XP that way, but it’s a good system all the same, and works within the context of GO.
Very rarely do I have nothing but good things to say about Pokémon GO these days, but I am very impressed with the potential implementation of the Buddy system, which sounds exactly like what the game needs right now as players start to lose interest. It could be marred by being tied to in-app purchases or something like that, but I’m choosing to be optimistic for now. I doubt this feature will cause some massive resurgence, but it should let many players feel comfortable returning to the game now that they know they can train specific Pokémon they want to evolve or make powerful, and they don’t have to rely on randomness alone to make progress. More info on this update as it come available, so stay tuned.