‘Pokémon GO:’ Developer Unveils Battle Mechanics, Plus How To Get In On The Beta Test

The Pokémon Company and developer Niantic are finally sharing more details about the battle system for the upcoming, highly-anticipated Pokémon GO. Unlike Pokémon Sun and Moon, which are set to release this November, trainers won’t need a Nintendo 3DS for this one. Pokémon GO is a mobile game bringing the “catch ’em all” experience to Android and iOS devices. Instead of playing as a fictional character and running around a fictional land, Pokémon GO utilizes Augmented Reality and mobile location technology to bring Pokémon into the real world.

How Does Pokémon GO Work?

According to the latest news revealed on the official website, the Pokémon GO app brings the monsters, gym battles, and all the fun of the traditional game to your real-world environment. Instead of playing as a character on a quest, you get to create and customize an avatar character and embark on your very own Pokémon adventure. With the app installed, you can go about your day (or night) as you typically would. When a Pokémon is close by, your phone vibrates to give you a chance to battle and catch the wild Pokémon with a Poké Ball.

[Image via The Pokémon Company]
Items like Poké Balls are going to be made available at places called PokéStops. In each real-world city and town, PokéStops may vary as they could be local places of interest like monuments, art galleries, or even historical landmarks. Gyms can be found at real locations across the globe, too. To participate in Gym battles, players are asked to join one of three teams.

Once players join a team, things get interesting. As noted in a recent press release, players battle to take control of Gyms on behalf of their respective teams.

“Players can battle using the Pokémon they’ve caught to gain control of a Gym. By using their own Pokémon’s attacks and dodging incoming attacks by swiping left and right on the screen, Pokémon GO players can defeat the defending Pokémon to reduce the Gym’s Prestige. Once the Gym’s Prestige reaches zero, the defending team loses control of the Gym, and the victor’s Pokémon can be assigned to defend the Gym. When a team has control of a Gym, team members can increase its Prestige and level by training their Pokémon with other defending Pokémon. As the Gym gets to a higher level, the defending team gains the ability to assign more Pokémon to defend it. They can also team up with friends and battle together at a rival Gym to take down stronger Gyms faster.”

Those who want to take the Pokémon GO experience to the next level can purchase the Pokémon GO Plus. Similar to Android Wear or the Apple Watch, Pokémon GO Plus connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth and allows players to perform many in-game actions without reaching for the phone itself.

[Image via The Pokemon Company]
In addition to the GO Plus, players have the option to make in-app purchases using PokéCoins that can be bought with real money through the App Store or Google Play. PokéCoins are used to buy extra, in-game items like power-ups.

How To Sign Up For The Pokémon GO Beta

In a call to Pokémon trainers across the globe, the Pokémon GO development team explains why they need help to make this global mobile game a reality.

“Because the game involves numerous people playing in multiple countries at the same time, we have a lot to test before we publicly launch.”

However, before jumping at the chance to sign up for the beta, the folks at Niantic want to be sure trainers know what they are getting into. Pokémon GO is still in a rough, in-development state. As such, the beta is being called a “field test.” Those who agree to sign up to be field testers do get an early look at the game, but they are mostly going to help identify bugs and issues.

“…the app is still in active development, so it has a limited set of features at the moment and there may be things that don’t work properly. We hope that you – as field testers – understand this and will work with us to make the Pokémon GO game experience truly phenomenal.”

After making it clear the field test experience is not like a comfy cruise on the S.S. Tidal and more like roughing it in the Safari Zone, the development team tells all potential beta testers they must keep what they see to themselves. Those chosen to participate in the field test can’t be leaking like a Cubchoo when it comes to sharing secrets on social media.

“The contents of the field test are confidential. To preserve an element of surprise for our users at public launch, we ask that field testers refrain from sharing the content of the field test in any form including social networks…”

Will the Pokémon GO development team choose you? You’ll have to fill out an application at the Official Pokémon GO Field Test page to find out. The opportunity is only open to a limited number of trainers across the globe. The development team factors in each applicant’s device type and “experience in real world games” when making its decision on candidates.

There are also some minimum requirements potential participants must meet to be chosen. Currently, you must reside in Australia, New Zealand, or the U.S. You must also have an Android device running the 4.3 OS and above, or an iPhone running iOS 8 and above. Atom-based Intel devices are not permitted as of this writing.

Plus, like many a Senior Intern Pikachu, testers put their passion for Pokémon into the experience, and the experience is its own reward. There’s no monetary compensation or in-game perks given out to those who are selected to participate.

Pokémon GO hits iOS and Android devices sometime in 2016. An official release date has not yet been announced.

[Image via The Pokémon Company]