Proving beyond a doubt that you’re never too old for a bit of childhood nostalgia, the new release from Nintendo partner company Niantic – Pokémon Go – has taken the world by storm. Based off the original Gameboy series and the wildly popular cartoon show and trading card game that followed, Pokémon Go takes its inspiration from a fictional world where people and little creatures named Pokémon work together to compete in battles.
An overview for easier navigation
8. Grinding XP
10. Battery life
12. On circles
13. All about types
14. Keep CP in mind
17. Poké Stops
19. Gym tips
20. Name your Eevee!
Pokémon Trainers, as the name implies, care for their unique teams of Pokémon and ultimately compete to become Champion of their region. Now it’s not so fictional!
The augmented reality app Pokémon Go superimposes images of the mischievous Pokémon (whose name literally translates to ‘pocket monsters’) all over the world, whether they’re in a park or hiding behind a freezer in your local grocery store. Local landmarks become Poké Stops where you can gather resources, while community hubs like churches, cinemas and fast-food restaurants (to name just a few) are designated as Pokémon Gyms where you can take advantage of a complex real-world mechanic and battle other players and their teams of Pokémon.
Local landmarks become Poké Stops where you can gather resources, while community hubs like churches, cinemas and fast-food restaurants (to name just a few) are designated as Pokémon Gyms where you can take advantage of a complex real-world mechanic and battle other players and their teams of Pokémon.
Using your Apple or Android smartphone, it’s your job to ‘throw’ clever devices called Poké Balls at the Pokémon you encounter to catch and then train them for these battles, as well as hatch mysterious eggs and ‘evolve’ your team of friendly pocket monsters. Your phone’s GPS lets you walk around your local community, finding Poké Stops and Gyms, as well as the Pokémon themselves. As the classic cartoon says: gotta catch ’em all!
The game does give you a small and basic tutorial, but there’s a lot more you need to know if you want to become a Pokémon Master. So here are some tricks and tips to help you out with your Pokémon Go experience!
Have you already downloaded the app? Do it right here!
iPhone and iPad users
1. Want a Pikachu?
The three classic starter Pokémon are the leaf-wielding dinosaur Bulbasaur, the fire-breathing lizard Charmander and the jet-shooting turtle Squirtle, which cover the three most common elemental types respectively (Grass, Fire and Water). You get to choose between them in the original game, and you also get to do so when you begin Pokémon Go.
However, fans of the original Pokémon cartoon will know that Ash Ketchum, the hero of the series, didn’t get the opportunity to choose any of these Pokémon. Instead, he was offered the Electric-type Pokémon Pikachu, a bright yellow mouselike creature with the ability to shoot sparks and shock other Pokémon. Today, Pikachu is one of the most recognizable characters in the world, so it’s no surprise that dedicated Pokémon Go players have found a way to get it as your starter Pokémon.
Here’s how: when you begin the game, ignore the three starters you are offered and walk away from the location with Pokémon Go running. Your phone will vibrate again to notify you that there are more starters available, but you can just ignore it again. Do this five times, and you’ll eventually be offered Pikachu!
2. Finding Pokémon
The best visual sign that a Pokémon is nearby are piles of rustling leaves on your virtual map. You can also, however, check the Nearby section to bring up Pokémon (which will just be silhouettes if you haven’t encountered them yet) with footprint markers next to them, and wander round to try and locate them. The one at the top left is always the closest to you, for future reference!
Although this isn’t specified in the game itself, the pawprints that show up next to a Pokémon have been calculated by cunning fans to be exact measures of distance. One footprint underneath means that the Pokémon is between 50 and 100 meters away from you, while three footprints show that it is under 200 meters away.
3. Make capturing Pokémon easier by turning off AR
The AR overlay, which superimposes Pokémon on the real world, is part of the fun. Pokémon have shown up in the oddest of places, thanks to Niantic’s algorithmic method of placing them around the world.
But AR can make capturing Pokémon difficult, and anyway, it’s much easier to throw Poké Balls when you don’t have to worry about aiming your phone camera at the Pokémon. If you have shaky hands or aren’t very good at holding your phone still, turning off AR is perfect. When approaching Pokémon, you’ll see an AR toggle slider that you can use.
When you do this, the game will place the Pokémon on a grassy field background where they’ll hop about occasionally, but will for the most part stay still and allow you to catch them. Much easier, if you ask us!
4. Check out move sets
Unlike in the Nintendo games, teaching Pokémon new moves (strategies that they use in battles) isn’t easy. So don’t just look at a Pokémon’s Combat Power (CP) level – check out the moves it already knows, and decide which of each species you want to level up and make more powerful. For example, if you catch a few of the same Water-type Pokémon (let’s say, the cute fish Goldeen) and two of them are almost neck-and-neck when it comes to CP, look at their moves – Water-type moves like Water Gun are more effective against many different types of Pokémon, like Rock and Fire types, than Normal attacks like Swift.
Do keep in mind, though, that the higher the CP, the stronger the evolution will be.
The strength of a move is indicated by the number next to it, which shows how much damage it inflicts. You’ll also see a blue bar next to the move at which a particular Pokémon is best – this will be the move that is most powerful during a battle.
5. Hatching eggs
It’s only a matter of time spent visiting Poké Stops (which regenerate their supplies every 10 to 15 minutes) before you’ll pick up a few Pokémon Eggs – from which all sorts of Pokémon hatch! You can incubate them by walking around, just like the virtual incubation process calculated by ‘steps’ taken in the Nintendo games.
Go to your Pokémon collection, select Eggs and then put an egg in an incubator. You can pick incubators up at Poké Stops if you get lucky, buy them in the real-world-currency Shop, or gain them more organically as you gain XP and level up your character.
While Pokémon Go is running, the app will automatically calculate how far you walk and hatch an egg based on that. If you want to pick up the other two starter Pokémon than the one you chose, plus a Pikachu and a few other low-level Pokémon, incubate the 2-kilometer eggs (which require you to walk that distance to hatch them); otherwise, 5-kilometer eggs are a good bet for slightly more powerful Pokémon like Porygon and Sandshrew, while 10-kilometer eggs can net you uncommon Pokémon like Snorlax. Imgur user Serebii has provided a good chart, above.
You need the app to be both open and active for steps walked to count, so set your screen auto-off to 10 minutes or more – at least as long as you spend walking in between checking your phone.
Cycling at a gentle pace, or riding in a taxi in slow traffic, will also go towards your kilometer count – although cars, trains and buses are generally too fast. The game wants you to get out and about, after all! However, if you’re desperate to hatch an egg, you can ‘hack’ the game by placing your phone on an old-style record player and letting a record spin. Not many people have access to those these days, of course!
6. Throwing curveballs
As this tip’s name implies, you can ‘jiggle’ a Poké Ball before you use it to create a curveball throw effect. Why? Well, it gains you extra XP when you catch one of the critters.
How do you do this? Basically, just tap and hold the Poké Ball, and spin it around clockwise or counter-clockwise to make it sparkle. Once this happens, throw it, and you’ll get an XP bonus if you manage to catch your Pokémon! YouTube user MeneerTAO provides a handy video on how to do this:
7. Pacifying Pokémon
Some Pokémon you encounter in the wild will be particularly spirited or rare enough that you’ll only find them once or twice, so you’ll have to work out how to pacify them before you can have a good chance of catching them with a thrown Poké Ball. Luckily, Razz Berries can be fed to Pokémon to calm them down and appease them a little. Used in conjunction with Great Balls or Ultra Balls – two higher-level, more reliable types of Poké Ball that you’ll unlock as you gain XP and move through the levels – this can make catching rare Pokémon like the feisty Dragonair a breeze.
8. Grinding XP
Looking to level up fast? All you need is a little patience and a little time – no ‘hacks’ here. The best way to do it is to get multiple low-level Pokemon, pay attention to the amount of Candy they need to evolve and wait until you have enough to carry out multiple evolutions at the same time.
Once you’ve got enough Candy, use a Lucky Egg (which doubles your XP gained for 30 minutes at a time): it’s perfect for evolving them all at the same time! If done with several low-level Pidgey, you can literally gain 1000 XP at a time.
You also get more Stardust and Candy just by catching the same type over and over again. Caterpie, Doduo, Weedle and Rattata might be annoyingly common, sure, but you can transfer any duplicates to Professor Willow, the Pokémon expert who guides you through the game’s tutorial – this gives you 1 extra Candy.
Levelling up gets cumulatively harder, keep in mind. Up to level 10, you need to gain an increasing amount of XP to level up, which increases by 1000 each time. For level 1, you need 1000 XP, while level 2 needs 2000 XP and so on. But keep at it – here are just a few of the items you can unlock with each level!
- Level 5: Gyms; Potions; Revives. You also get 10 Potions, 1 Incense and 10 Revives for free!
- Level 8: Razz Berries. Additionally, you receive 15 Poké Balls, 10 Potions, 5 Revives, 10 Razz Berries and 1 Lure Modulator.
- Level 10: Super Potions.
- Level 12: Great Balls.
- Level 15: Hyper Potions.
- Level 20: Ultra Balls!
9. A word of wisdom on evolutions
You use Stardust to power up Pokémon and make them stronger, and you use Candy to evolve them. But think carefully about which you want to power up and which you want to evolve now – because the more powered-up a Pokémon is, the more Candy the little critter will need to evolve. And most players don’t want to have to shell out real-life cash for tons of extra Candy!
So your Stardust is much better spent on Pokémon who are already in their final form, or who only have one form to begin with. This powers them up and means you can make your battle lineup even better!
Remember, too, that evolved Pokémon that you’ve spent time and energy on raising and training are stronger than their wild counterparts – this goes for all the games, not just Pokémon Go.
10. Battery life
With the multitude of services it uses (GPS, camera, data, and more), Pokémon Go can and will drain your phone battery pretty quickly. Try activating the battery saver mode on your iPhone or Android before going outside to play, as well as opting into the battery-saving mode of the game itself. A power pack will come in handy if you want to be outside for long periods!
You can also save mobile phone data by downloading offline maps of your local area. Open up Google Maps, select the Settings menu and go to Offline Areas. Press the ‘+’ icon and select a square section of the area you want to download to do this. Helps conserve battery, too!
Without buying upgrades with Pokécoins, you can’t ‘catch them all’. The capacity of the Pokédex, which records the Pokémon you’ve caught, is only 350 in the base version of the game – keep that in mind, and make sure to transfer duplicate or even triplicate Pokémon to the Professor when you’re nearing capacity for extra Candy. But catching any Pokémon gives you at least 100 XP, which is great for levelling up! Similarly, even if your bag is full, hitting up Poké Stops will still give you 50 XP.
Holding gyms will give you extra Pokécoins, so make sure you do this as part of a team when you can – then you can buy a bigger bag to hold all your items!
12. On circles
Hold down on your Poké Ball before you throw it to get an idea of how hard it will be to capture the Pokémon in front of you. A small circle or ‘reticule’ will appear on the Pokémon; in the classic traffic-light system, if it’s green, it’s easiest, orange is medium and red is hard.
The smaller the circle is when you throw a Poké Ball to catch a Pokémon, the greater the chance it will stay locked in the ball! Landing a ball right in the circle also gives you at least 10 extra XP – don’t discount that, because every point is precious.
13. All about types
If you haven’t played a Pokémon game before, having a basic understanding of Pokémon Types will get you a long way. In a kind of rock-paper-scissors formulation, Grass types are weak to Fire attacks, Fire types weak to Water attacks and Water types weak to Grass attacks. This goes as far as increasing the damage a Pokémon takes from an attack by 25 percent! There are many more to find out, like Rock types being resistant against Electric attacks and only taking 80 percent of the attack damage. A handy hint: many Pokémon have two types (e.g., Air and Dragon); experiment with combinations if you like, or check out the chart below, kindly provided by Reddit’s TheSilphRoad.
14. Keep CP in mind
Although attack and Pokémon Types can count for something on your side, it’s best to be prudent and only start fights you can win. Big differences in CP will often decimate your team – if you’d prefer to avoid an embarrassing defeat, remember that like-for-like, the Pokémon with the highest CP will usually prevail!
If you have kids who play Pokémon Go and have access to your bank cards, consider turning off micro-transactions in their phones’ settings – this means that they won’t be able to spend small amounts of money at a time on extra resources like Pokémon Lures, egg incubators and Poké Balls, which add up very quickly for an enthusiastic young player!
Putting a Pokémon into a gym will ‘hold’ it for your team, of which there are three options: Instinct, Mystic and Valor. But don’t put your Pokémon into gyms too early, or you’ll cause trouble for other players. A weak Pokémon will simply stay there until it’s beaten, which boots everyone out of the gym! You can’t swap them out or level them up when they’re in a gym. Be wise and make prudent choices!
17. Poké Stops
If you want to pick up items quicker, just hit the X as soon as you spin the Poké Stop – this will burst all the item ‘bubbles’ immediately. Public transport is also a great way to do this – begin spinning the Poké Stop signs as you approach them on the train or bus, then hit X when you pass them and move onto the next one.
Poké Stops are such a good, reliable source of Poké Balls (they replenish every 10 to 15 minutes) that you just don’t need to buy them with your hard-won Pokécoins, whether you gain these from micro-transactions or fiercely defending neighborhood Gyms. Instead, get Incense, which is much rarer and actually attracts Pokémon to you, for those times when you just can’t be wandering around on your phone. Poké Stops also sometimes give out Potions and Revives, which are essentials for winning Gyms by keeping your Pokémon on their feet in Combat Mode.
Other players can use Lures, which work like Incense, but for everyone. They’ll be represented on your map as swirling confetti – so just hang around them for a while and extra Pokémon will come to you at no cost!
19. Gym tips
As well as battling Gyms that belong to other teams (rival Gyms), you can increase the strength of your own team’s Gyms (friendly Gyms) by battling them! You only get one Pokémon to do this, but for every Pokémon you manage to defeat, the Gym will gain XP. Levelling up once enough XP is gained means that the Gym has more slots for defending Pokémon.20. Name your Eevee!
20. Name your Eevee!
Now this is a really odd little trick. Eevee is a cute foxlike Pokémon that has three potential evolutions: the Electric-type Jolteon, the Water-type Vaporeon and the Fire-type Flareon.
In the original Pokémon cartoon, the first characters to be encountered with Eevees were the Eevee brothers, Sparky, Rainer and Pyro. One Reddit user found out that if you name your Eevee Sparky it will evolve into a Jolteon, Rainer for a Vaporeon and Pyro for a Flareon. How cool of an Easter egg is that?