If good things really do come to those who wait, then the Buddy System update for Pokemon GO should be oh so good for players of this year’s most notable mobile gaming phenomenon. The update is now live, bringing with it exactly what was promised. Pokemon GO Trainers can now choose one particular Pokemon from their collections to walk around with them — both literally, since you need to be active to take advantage of them, and figuratively, since the chosen one doesn’t actually appear on the game map.
So how do you pick a Buddy Pokemon and why do you want to do that in the first place? Those are actually two separate questions, but we’re happy to answer both of them.
Picking a Buddy Pokemon
Like so many other things in Pokemon GO, the way to go about selecting a Buddy Pokemon isn’t immediately obvious. I tried diving into the individual Pokemon first to see if it was an option from their menus and found it was not.
Instead, what you want to do is tap on the profile of your Trainer in the bottom-left corner of the main game screen. From there, you’ll see a hamburger icon in the bottom-right, that now has three options: Journal, Buddy and Customize.
Tapping ‘Buddy’ brings you to your Pokemon menu, where you’ll see all your available choices. Pick the one you want, tap on it and you’ll be treated to an animation that proclaims that he or she is now your BFF (my words, not the game’s).
As noted, the Buddy Pokemon doesn’t actually show up on the game map, but you will see it standing proudly beside you any time you check your Trainer profile going forward. There’s also a small head shot of the Buddy Pokemon down in the corner of the map beside your Trainer.
To swap buddies, all you have to do is repeat the process. You’ll be warned that any progress you have will be wiped out if you make the switch. What progress, you ask? Well …
Why You Want a Buddy Pokemon in Your Life
Aside from just not having your Trainer feel lonely, there’s a very good reason for selecting a Buddy Pokemon, pronto. As you walk around with your buddy, he or she will earn extra Pokemon Candy every so many kilometers. It’s the same process used to hatch eggs, and can be done at the same time, so your distance walked will go toward hatching eggs and gathering more candy.
Prior to the Buddy System update, the only ways to acquire Pokemon Candy were to catch more Pokemon of the same type, hatch them from eggs (which boiled down to pure luck) or transfer Pokemon you already caught back to the Professor. A Buddy Pokemon makes for a very handy supplement to those tools, particularly for Pokemon that aren’t readily found in your area.
For example, when I was on vacation this summer, there were Doduos everywhere. In fact the new state motto of New Jersey should probably be, “The Doduo State.”
At home, not so much. But if I was especially anxious to evolve my Doduos, I now have the option of assigning one of them as my Buddy Pokemon to earn more candy, making up for the fact that they’re scarce in my neck of the woods.
How much walking will you have to do for each piece of Pokemon Candy? Quite a bit. The distance varies by Pokemon, but no matter how you slice it, 5 km is a long way to go for one piece of candy. No matter how delicious or useful it might be.
That said, it’s hard to imagine any Pokemon GO players aren’t glad this update is finally here. Make sure you take advantage of it by picking a buddy and treating them kindly. It’s only right considering they will be giving you a hand in your unending quest to catch ’em all.