Expeditions are a feature of Pikmin Bloom, unlocked at level 6. They are the main way to collect fruits and seedlings, and by extension, nectar and Pikmin. As the player walks around and blooms Big Flowers, items will appear on the map nearby. The player can then send a group of Pikmin to walk to the item and carry it back to the player, which takes place in real time. Once the Pikmin are back, the items can be collected in the garden screen.
There is a menu that lists all the expeditions available to the player and displays their associated locations on a map. By selecting an expedition, the player can choose which Pikmin to assign to that expedition, and then those Pikmin will walk to that expedition's associated location, collect the item, and then walk back to the player. This takes some amount of time, and the approximate time it will take is told to the player before the expedition is started. Pikmin on expeditions cannot be used for other purposes while they are on the expedition.
There is a chance for Pikmin on an expedition to return with a postcard. This postcard can be collected alongside the fruit or seedling the Pikmin was carrying, and will be shown on the screen, temporarily interrupting gameplay. The postcard will be an image of the area the Pikmin collected the fruit or seedling from, and it will show them posing in that location.
If a Pikmin is at the maximum friendship level, an expedition to a gift box will appear. Only the Pikmin who is at max friendship can complete this expedition, and the gift box in question will be located where the Pikmin's seedling was discovered. When this expedition is completed and the gift collected, the Pikmin will jump into the gift box and come out as a Decor Pikmin.
There is no limit to the number of uncollected expeditions the player can have, but most expeditions expire after 3 days if not collected. Expeditions from blooming a Big Flower expire when the flower stops blooming, and gift expeditions do not expire.
Items collectable on expeditions have 2 different kinds of weight: carrying weight, and metric weight. The carrying weight is the minimum Pikmin strength needed to carry the object and hence start the expedition. The metric weight is measured in grams and is displayed by the game before each expedition, and does not correlate with the carrying weight.
Different items have different carrying weights and thus take a different number of Pikmin to carry. Red Pikmin, Yellow Pikmin, Blue Pikmin, White Pikmin, and Winged Pikmin have the strength to carry 1 weight unit. Rock Pikmin have a strength of 3 weight units. Purple Pikmin have a strength of 5 weight units. Below is a table of the weight of each collectable item (in weight units) and the maximum number of Pikmin that can carry it (as a number of Pikmin).
The metric weight of different items also depends on the type of item, but in a different way. Seedlings have weights that vary randomly in a certain range. Red, Yellow, Blue, White, and Pink Seedlings weigh around 100 grams, while Purple, Gray, and Huge Seedlings weigh around 250 grams. The weight of fruits generally correlates to the amount of nectar that fruit will provide – for most fruits, the nectar provided is the metric weight, divided by 10, rounded down. For example, a green apple weighing 228 grams will give 22 nectar. For plums, it's the metric weight divided by 8 rounded down instead. Gifts are similar to seedlings in their variability, and weigh around 100 grams.
The length of time an expedition takes depends on the Pikmin that are sent on it. Generally, the more Pikmin are sent, the faster the expedition will be, but different Pikmin types have different attributes. Speed is only influenced by the type of Pikmin, not its maturity or friendship. Before starting the expedition, the game shows an estimate of how long it will take with the currently-selected Pikmin.
An expedition has 2 stages. First, the Pikmin run from the player's location to the location of the item. Then, they pick up the item and carry it back to the player. These stages take different lengths of time, and the speed of the Pikmin in each is calculated differently. The time it takes for the Pikmin to carry the item back also depends on the player's movement, as the expedition will not be over until the Pikmin reach the player's current location. If the player moves away from the expedition, it will take more time, and if they move towards it, it will take less time. This can make the time estimate from the beginning of the expedition inaccurate.
Each Pikmin type has 2 attributes that go into speed calculation: its carrying strength, and its time modifier, as listed in the table below.
The running speed of the group in meters per second is equal to 4 divided by the average time modifier of all the Pikmin in the group. For example, a group with equal numbers of Red Pikmin and White Pikmin has an average time modifier of 0.75, and 4 divided by 0.75 is approximately 5.333, so this group will run at about 5.333 meters per second.
The carrying speed of the group in meters per second is equal to the total strength of the group, divided by the carrying weight of the object being carried, divided by the average time modifier of all the Pikmin in the group. For example, a fruit (with a weight of 6), carried by 3 Blue Pikmin and 2 Purple Pikmin (with a total carrying strength of 13 and an average time modifier of 1.1), will be carried at 13 / 6 / 1.1 = about 1.9697 meters per second.
These speeds can be used to find the approximate time of each section of the expedition, by dividing the distance of the item (in meters) by the speed of the group. The game's time estimate is calculated by adding the times for each section and rounding it up to the next minute.
Different Pikmin types have different attributes on expeditions, caused by their different values and the unusual nature of the two formulas. The basic types are Red Pikmin, Yellow Pikmin, and Blue Pikmin, which are identical for the purposes of expeditions. If these types are the only ones on the expedition, the running speed will always be 4m/s, and the carrying speed will depend on how many Pikmin are on the expedition. If the minimum number of Pikmin are sent, the carrying speed will be 1m/s – this is because the carrying strength and the weight are equal, meaning dividing one by the other is always 1. Adding an extra Pikmin of these types will increase the speed by 1 divided by the weight of the object, and having the maximum number of Pikmin carrying will make the carrying speed 2m/s.
White Pikmin are a simple doubling of the speeds of Red, Yellow, and Blue Pikmin. A group of White Pikmin runs at 8m/s, and carries at a speed between 2 and 4 meters per second, depending on how many are sent.
Winged Pikmin, when they are the only type on the expedition, are the fastest type. A group of Winged Pikmin fly to the object at a blistering 20m/s, and carry it back between 5 and 10 meters per second, depending on how many are sent. When they are combined with other types though, their speed reduces to that of a Red/Yellow/Blue Pikmin. Thus, when using this type on expeditions, it's best to send only Winged Pikmin.
Purple Pikmin and Rock Pikmin greatly complicate the speed system, as their increased carrying strength also plays a role in the formula. While their running speed is slower than the other types, being 3.2m/s if they are the only types sent, their carrying speed can be considerably faster. The amount it is faster by isn't consistent, and also depends on what other Pikmin are sent. As an example, when the number of Pikmin is equal to the weight of the object and all the Pikmin are the same type, Purple Pikmin carry at 4m/s and Rock Pikmin carry at 2.4m/s.
There are 5 badges the player can gain from doing expeditions:
The following changes have been made to expeditions over time: