Developer Niantic recently announced that Pokémon GO players can now engage in Pokémon battles against each other without the need to get to a gym. This new feature is available for all players who are level 10 or higher. Furthermore, there will be three separate leagues to keep high-CP Pokémon from running over weaker opponents. The battles are different from gym battles, and each team can only have a maximum of three Pokémon.

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Some people seem to find this new feature to be erratic, while others say that they have had a smooth experience. Just like many Pokémon GO additions in the past, it will take some time to polish, so be patient, and you'll probably soon be able to blaze through the leagues with friends.

The first thing to note about the new PVP battles is that there will be no dodging. It’s all about type advantage and CP now. This means there are only three things to do here: switching between Pokémon, using charge attacks, and responding to the opponent’s charge attacks. You tap repeatedly on the screen to command your Pokémon to attack, and when the charge attack is up, you'll again have to frantically tap it for a few seconds to increase its damage. Meanwhile, your opponent can use those few seconds to decide on a countermeasure, such as using shield items. The same is true when you are on the receiving end of a Charge attack from the other side.

How PvP works in Pokémon GO

Furthermore, you can unlock another charge attack for your Pokémon by spending a certain amount of stardust and candy (the exact number varies between different Pokémon). This second charge attack is permanent, and it will also be available in gym battles as well.

The three leagues include the Great League, which has a 1,500 CP cap, the Ultra League, which goes as high as 2,500 CP, and the Master League, which Pokémon of any CP can participate in. You can fight your friends online if they're your Best Friend or Ultra Friend, or practice with a team leader for practice. Alternatively, you can scan a QR code displayed by another trainer to challenge him or her, or publish a QR Code of your own code for others to do the same to you. Beating a team leader earn you Stardust and some other small prizes, while defeating another player will reward you with higher-quality items like Sinnoh Stones. You can battle as much as you want, but if you have watched the anime, you’ll know that the key to victory is taking good care of your Pokémon. Don’t force them to fight too much, or you will run out of potions and revives in no time.

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Ever since Pokémon GO first launched a couple of years back, fans have been clamoring for trainer battle mode like this one. However, now that it has finally arrived, there are a few notable flaws holding it back. First of all, there's not a lot of strategy involved, which is quite disappointing. Secondly, the fact that each team can have three Pokémon further limits the room for strategic planning and team building. Two-versus-two matches, which have been featured in various other Pokémon games, are also nowhere to be seen in the hit AR title, and developer Niantic has not shown any intention of implementing them in the near future. The reported bugs can be fixed given time, but these inherent weaknesses seriously hinder what could have been a great feature. Regardless, the battles are still pretty fun as they are right now, and might very well bring back many old players. They are also a chance for collectors to use Pokémon that are too weak to participate in gym battles.