Catching up on Pokémon GO’s new trading feature

It may have taken two years to get here, but Niantic finally delivered. Trading with your friends has come to Pokémon GO. The staggered rollout happened late last week, with level 40 players being the only ones who could access the new social features at first. The requirement was slowly brought down to where it sits at level 10. I highly doubt the feature will be unlocked for lower levels due to the ease of getting to level 10.

So for those of you not following the news minute-by-minute, here’s a quick walkthrough of all the things you need to know about the new trading and social features.

Limits Everywhere!

It wouldn’t be fun it Niantic let us do everything we wanted. First off, you’re limited to 200 friends. This shouldn’t be a problem if you go with Niantic’s idea of how the friend’s feature should work, but no one is doing that.

People are maxing out their friends list pretty fast by adding trainers to their friends list from around the world. There are advantages to that, but more on that later. If you find yourself deleting friends to make room for more local friends, take note, the deleting party will lose progress on their friendship bar. The party that did not initiate the removal will resume their previous friendship level should the two of you become friends again.

Once you’ve added a few or 10 score friends, it’s time to start building that friendship. It will take 90 days to become “Best Friends” with any trainer. You can earn one friendship point per day one of two ways.

If you complete a raid with one of your friends you’ll gain a friendship point for the day. When raiding with your friends, you’ll see a glowing graphic behind their trainer once in the raid lobby indicating you are friends.

Raiding is the easiest way to earn friendship points with people you see regularly or large group of people. But presents are the other way to become friends with trainers, even over long distances. But first, you have to get presents from spinning Pokéstops and Gyms. They’ll come pretty fast, so don’t worry.

Players are limited to holding five presents at a time, so tough luck if you thought about stocking up and not going outside for a few days. Then you just send your friends presents through the new social tab. Unlike trading, there is no distance limit, so send your random friends in Japan all the presents you want.

Presents themselves are pretty awesome. They each contain a few items, most often the rarer items in the game. Opening presents is a great way to stock up on items such as Pinap Berries and Ultra Balls. However, you are limited to opening 20 presents per day. It is important to note that the act of sending a present doesn’t earn you a friendship point. You only earn the friendship point when the player opens the present.

Once you’ve earned the first friendship level with people, you can start trading. It’s a very simple process, but it does require you to be within 100 meters of each other. There are four tiers to trading that you need to know about: Regular, Regional, Legendary, and Shiny. Mythical Pokémon (Mew) are not eligible for trading.

Each of those tiers comes with a different dust cost based on whether or not you have already caught the Pokémon. At the first friendship level, trading regular Pokémon is dirt cheap, but it will cost you 20,000 dust if you haven’t caught them before. Same goes for regional Pokémon.

When you move up to the legendary and shiny tier, it costs 20,000 dust to trade them if you have already caught them. If not, you’re looking at 1 million dust to trade them. Both parties pay the dust cost, too. As shown in the graphic above, these numbers are for trades done at the first friendship level. See the chart below for dust costs when you’ve leveled up.

You are limited to one special trade per day, which would be a regional, shiny, or legendary Pokémon. Finally, once you’ve traded a Pokémon, it can never be traded again. Ever.

The Benefits of Being Social

Aside from easily getting items to play the game, there are quite a few other bonuses to the new social features. When you level up your friendship and raid with those friends you get bonuses while fighting raid bosses. This will allow players to do more damage in a raid battle and potentially earn more rewards. Raiding with your friends will also yield players with up to four more balls to catch raid bosses.

The dust costs for trading go down significantly with each friendship level earned. At the “Best Friend” level it becomes worth it to trade legendary Pokémon that would otherwise be useless in hopes that you’ll get better stat rolls.

One of the most important benefits of the presents you can send people is the fact that you can get a slew of new Alolan versions of Pokémon from them. You have to have an open slot for eggs when you open your presents in order to acquire these new 7km eggs.

Problems with the system

There are quite a few problems with the new social features, unfortunately. With the limit on how many presents you can open per day it can create a backlog and slow down friendship progression. It’s also impossible to tell who you’ve given presents to at the moment until you’ve gone to send them another present.

The entire social feature is also in dire need of a search function. When you have 200 friends, or even 30, it’s hard to find a specific one when you want to trade with someone. Adding in filters to this screen would go a long way.

The notifications for friendship actions also need a sizable filter thrown onto them. Now, when players boot up the game they can be assaulted by dozens of notifications of “Player received X items from your gift” and “You received a gift from X.”

Being friends with people also inserted a lot of bugs into the live version of Pokémon GO. Research quests have been bugged since the social features went live, requiring players to restart their game when claiming research rewards. A lot of players are also experiencing an Error 0, which seems to be associated with the friends list feature not being able to properly fetch the data.

But overall, it’s a good and sizable update to Pokémon GO. One many players had given up on ever seeing. So get out there and be social.