Pokémon GO’s PvP update will merely highlight a boring and broken combat system

Posted on August 13, 2018

Since debuting in 2016, Pokémon GO has received a myriad of updates to help bring the social mobile game to life. Raids created big team battles with a shared goal and trading meant friends could finally meet up to swap their precious mons. One of the next big milestones for GO will be its big PvP update, which is slated to arrive near the end of the year.

We know about Niantic’s plans for PvP thanks to an interview conducted by Polish website Gram. Within the interview it was revealed that PvP was expected to arrive toward the end of this year. A rough translation of the Polish text can be found below.

“We are constantly improving the elements that we have available in the game and the next thing that we want to add at the end of this year is the PvP mode.”

Pokémon GO gym battle

Whilst PvP is certainly a highly demanded feature and something that is pretty core to the Pokémon franchise, the update itself raises some questions and concerns. The real issue with Niantic’s upcoming PvP update will be its mechanical limitations. Since the beginning, combat within Pokémon GO has been very lacklustre. None of the updates to the game’s gym system, Pokémon move sets, or even the introduction of raids managed to improve the game’s core combat mechanics. Safe to say PvP won’t either, that’s an issue.

Combat in Pokémon GO is dull, unengaging, poorly balanced, and straight up broken. The system boils down to tapping your screen until your charged attack is ready, at which point you tap your screen. It’s as mechanically simple as possible with absolutely no skill or tactics involved outside of selecting the better Pokémon. Yes, the game has a dodging mechanic. But the inconsistency of that dodge and its overall ineffectiveness means that veteran GO players ignore it altogether. This is an issue that hasn’t been fixed in the game’s 2 years of existence. The overwhelming simplicity of the combat means that very few Pokémon are actually viably competitive with a very binary scale of what beats what. In fact, the whole game’s competitive balance is incredibly badly implemented, with stats pulled directly from the core game series despite the fact that those stats were designed and balanced around a much different combat system. Add to this some combat bugs that just never seem to get fixed and you’re left with a truly awful system.

Pokémon GO raid art

So why would Niantic implement PvP? The feature may be highly sought after but it will serve only to highlight a bland and broken combat system. Something’s got to change.