**Update: June 21**
Niantic has confirmed that the Pokemon Go friend system (and thus, trading and all the other attached features) are now live. At the moment it's restricted to Trainers who are level 40, but that should change soon.
We’re gradually rolling out Friends and Trading. Currently, Trainers who are level 40 can now use these features. Thanks for your patience as we work to make these features available to a larger number of Trainers.June 21, 2018
When Niantic added Raids last summer it launched the feature in much the same way, starting with those who were level 40 (a significantly smaller sample than the overall Pokemon Go population, considering it takes as much XP to go from 39 to 40 as it does to go from 1 to 39) and rolling out to all players by the end of the day. Hopefully Niantic moves just as quickly with this much-anticipated feature.
Original story: Ever since it launched two years ago, one of the most-requested features for Pokemon Go has been trading. A staple of the main series, the feature was sorely missed in Niantic's mobile spin-off; players looked with envious eyes upon one another's Pokedexes, wondering when they too might finally catch 'em all. But good news, trainers! Trading is finally coming to Pokemon Go. Here's how it will work:
The cornerstone of trading is the new friendship system. When the feature launches, you'll be assigned a unique code to share with friends. They in turn can share their code with you, and you'll be linked together in-game. By giving each other gifts, trading, or participating in gym battles / raids together, you'll be able to raise your friendship level at a rate of one uptick per friend, per day. There are four levels to Pokemon Go's friendship system, each with its own rewards.
Good Friends can trade all Pokemon except those of Mythical quality (which as of writing only includes Mew). It takes but one day of doing friendship activities together to become Good Friends.
Great Friends get a discount on the Stardust cost for trading, receive a boost to attacks when battling alongside each other, and receive one extra Premiere Ball for completing Raids with each other. Reaching Great Friend status takes seven days of friendship activities.
Ultra Friends get a greater discount on trading, a bigger attack boost in battles, and two extra Premiere Balls at the end of a successful Raid. It takes 30 days to be considered Ultra Friends.
Best Friends receive the largest discount on the Stardust cost of trading, the largest attack boost in battles, and four bonus Premiere Balls when Raiding together. It'll take you 90 days to become Best Friends.
(Note: these rewards do not stack, so if you're playing with more than one friend, you'll only receive the best bonus)
You may have noticed the mention of trading cost on that list. This is arguably the biggest way Pokemon Go's version of trading differs from trading in the main series - where trading Pokemon in a main series game is free, trading in Pokemon Go requires you to spend Stardust. While a full breakdown wasn't given, one example shared by Niantic showed a trade costing a whopping 1,000,000 Stardust, per trainer. To which I ask: who the Froakie has one million Stardust?!
Granted, this seems to be the highest cost, associated with what are considered "Special Trades". Special Trades include those of Legendary Pokemon, shiny Pokemon, or Pokemon not already in one of the two trainers' Pokedexes. And at the Best Friend status, that exorbitant cost drops to 40k Stardust. In other words, trading with a more seasoned player to get that Pokemon you've been missing from your collection may not always be out of reach - it'll just take you a few months of playing together to make doing so affordable. So, yay?
Frustrating as it is, I can see a sort of logic behind the decision to make trading for new Pokemon so expensive. Pokemon Go emphasizes players getting up and going outside to explore and find new Pokemon. If you could just meet up with your neighborhood Pokemon Go players and trade around until everyone had a complete Pokedex, it would kind of defeat the purpose of the game. That said, everyone experiences the game differently, and I hope Niantic finds a way to appease hardcore and casual players alike.
Another hitch in trading is that doing so will reset a Pokemon's stats. So if you want to give a particularly strong Pokemon to a friend, it may not be so strong once they receive it. The traded Pokemon's HP and CP is more likely to be closer to its initial value the greater your friendship level, but there's still no guarantee that what you see is what you'll get.
Lastly, PokeStops will sometimes spawn Gifts, which can be sent to a trainer in your friends list. Gifts are essentially digital goodie baskets full of items, which sometimes will include the new 7km egg. These special eggs hatch Alolan Pokemon, though many Alolan forms will still be found in the wild. Giving a gift will also help raise your friendship level.
While there's still no specified release date for these features, they are expected to arrive in time for Pokemon Go Fest 2018, which takes place in Chicago on July 14 and 15.
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