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How to battle in Pokémon Go: PvP, battle rewards and more

How to battle in Pokémon Go
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Mastering how to battle in Pokémon Go will help you get the most out of the game. Participating in a battle can result in multiple rewards, including but not limited to gaining Stardust, Rare Candy and even increasing your chance of getting a Sinnoh Stone. 

Battling is one of the key features of Pokémon Go, one of the most popular mobile games to date. After all, players are meant to capture, train and evolve Pokémon in order to eventually participate in battles, be it a PvP (Player versus Player) match or Raids. 

So whether you want to learn how to battle or simply need to refresh your memory, we're here to help. Below, we've provided a complete guide on how to battle in Pokémon Go, including tips on PvP and training, as well as an explainer on all the available rewards.

WARNING: Please take extreme caution when playing Pokémon Go and be aware of your surroundings, especially if you're using the app next to open roads, bicycle paths and steep drops.

How to battle in Pokémon Go: The basics

  • Unlike Raid and Gym battles, PvP battles require you to pick three Pokémon
  • You have the option to swap between the chosen three Pokémon mid-battle
  • Battles aren't turn-based unlike other games in the franchise
  • You inflict damage by tapping your phone's screen to perform Fast Moves
  • You can also use Charge Moves by swiftly swiping across your screen
  • Use Protect Shields in order to defend your Pokémon, though you can only use two for the duration of the battle
  • All PvP battles are timed, so if both Trainers have Pokémon remaining when the battle ends, the winning Trainer will be the one who has more Pokémon available. However, if both Trainers have an equal amount of Pokémon available, the winner is determined by the amount of HP remaining at the end of the battle

How to battle in Pokémon Go: PvP battles

How to battle in Pokémon Go: PvP

(Image credit: Niantic)

Pokémon Go allows Trainers to participate in PvP (Player vs Player) battles to gain more experience points, Stardust and Rare Candy. One thing to note, however, is that only players of level 10 or above can participate in such battles. Battling — much like trading, participating in raids, and exchanging gifts with your in-game friends — increases your friendship level.

In order to battle over distance, both of you need to be Best or Ultra Friends, (provided that both Trainers are Level 10 or above). You can get there in no time by giving each other gifts, and participating in raids and local PvP battles, as well as by trading Pokémon with each other.

How to battle in Pokémon Go: PvP

(Image credit: Niantic)

To exchange gifts, you can collect special gifts that you can receive at any Pokéstop. These gifts cannot be used for anything other than sending to your friends. To give your added friend a gift, simply tap your avatar, select the "Friends" tab, pick a friend and tap "Send Gift." Giving gifts also builds up your Trainer level.

Once you’ve reached level 10 or above, you can battle against players in two ways:

  • Local: As implied, battling locally means that you can do so with your friend if they’re located nearby. To do so, open the "Nearby" menu (located in the bottom right corner of the screen), tap "Challenge a Trainer" and scan your friend's QR code (through the same menu). You don't need to add each other as friends to battle if you're next to each other. 
  • Through distance: As mentioned earlier, with this way of battling, the game requires both players to be Ultra or Best Friends in order to participate in a PvP battle over the Internet. Once you've progressed to Ultra or Best Friends in the game, go ahead and select your friends list > tap on the friend that you want to battle > tap on the Battle button. They should then get a notification and once the request is accepted, you can battle right away. 

How to battle in Pokémon Go

(Image credit: Niantic)

How to battle in Pokémon Go: Train against AI

How to battle in Pokémon Go

(Image credit: Niantic)

You can also participate in a Pokémon Go battle against an AI, which is commonly referred to as "training." This will come in handy if you want to build up your confidence and skills before jumping into a real battle while also earning rewards. 

To battle this way, open the "Nearby" menu (located in the bottom-right corner of the screen). You will then be presented with a variety of battling options.

You should be able to pick from AI-controlled opponents that you can see along the bottom row of the menu. 

How to battle in Pokémon Go: Battle rewards

As we mentioned earlier, participating in Pokémon Go battles will help you gain certain rewards (regardless of the outcome of the battle), including Stardust, Rare Candy and a better chance of getting a Sinnoh Stone. The latter is a special evolution item that allows players to transform a variety of Pokémon into its Gen 4 versions.

However, it's worth noting that if you've been participating in battles against an AI, the above rewards will only be added once per day. They're offered up to three times a day if you've been battling other Trainers. 

Any battles you win against other Trainers will count towards your progress for the "Ace Trainer" badge, which tasks you to win 100 Trainer battles. 

Denise Primbet

Denise is a news writer at Tom’s Guide covering all things tech, gaming software/hardware, streaming, and more. She regularly produces short-form news articles as well as long-form content, including reviews, buying guides, how-tos, and features. When she's not live-streaming horror games on Twitch, she can be found exploring East London while playing Pokemon Go. She’s also a part-time piano enthusiast and regularly experiments in the kitchen. You can reach her at denise.primbet@futurenet.com.