Time to take hold of your dreams, become a Pokémon trainer, and catch 'em all!
Just about everyone knows about Pokémon, a game where you travel the world in order to collect every pocket monster on the planet. For over a decade it has won hearts, and now, Pokémon Go is here on a mobile device near you. Whether you are rocking an Android or an iPhone, this game is awesome.
We've got all the details that you need to hit the ground running. We cover how to find and catch Pokémon, how Gyms and teams work, what items you can hope to find, and how evolution works. We've got the definitive guide to Pokémon Go. Keep reading for all the details!
- In the world
- Capturing Pokémon
- Items, items, items
- Eggs and incubators
- Leveling up
- Pokémon Go Plus [AKA: Poké Watch]
- Final Thoughts
In the world
While there is plenty going on in Pokémon Go, getting the hang of the basics is in your best interest. That way you can catch any Pokémon you come across without any issues. This includes knowing how the mechanics work, and how you access your backpack and Pokédex.
As you wander through the real world, the app will show you an animated version of Google maps. You'll be able to see roads, buildings, Gyms, and Pokéstops. As you move, your avatar will as well. As you walk in the real world Pokémon will pop up on the map, and if you tap on them you can try to capture them.
- Avatar: Your avatar is you, inside the confines of the game. You'll be able to choose gender, eye color, hair color, shirt, hat, pants, shoes and the style of your backpack. You can change your trainer look at any time in the game.
- Player icon: At the bottom right is a player icon, if you tap on this you can see the specs of your character, as well as a list of in-game achievements.
- Backpack: This is where all the items you pick up on your journey will go.
- Pokédex: Your index of Pokémon, complete with information on all the species you've already caught.
- Pokémon: From here you'll be able to see all the Pokémon that are in your possession.
- Sightings: Located at the bottom right of your screen this will inform you of which Pokémon are nearby.
When you reach your first Gym in Level 5, you'll be asked to join one of three color coded teams: Mystic (Blue), Valor (Red), or Instinct (Yellow). This is a throw back to the original US titles – Pokémon Red, *Pokémon Blue, and Pokémon Yellow: Special Pikachu Edition. The team you choose doesn't affect the type of Pokémon you will come across in the wild, but you will be on the same team as hundreds or thousands of other players around the world. Each team will work together to become the most successful. Teams can quickly turn Pokémon Go from a single player experience to a group sport, making the game a whole lot more fun.
Teams are how you join up with your friends to make a dent on the world. You and your team will take over and level up Gyms. Each of the three factions is represented by one of the three legendary birds — Articuno (Blue), Moltres (Valor), and Zapdos (Instinct).
Over the years we've been introduced to, and fallen in love with, hundreds of pocket monsters. For now however it seems like we aren't getting access to all of the Pokémon that you might find on your Nintendo DS. Instead, it's back to basics. As of now we've seen a variety of Pokémon types, and even Pokémon in the wild that you might not expect, like Flareon and Jolteon.
Over 150 Pokémon from Pokémon Red and Blue are all available for capture, which is basically all of the Pokémon from the original games save for Mew, MewTwo, Ditto, Moltres, Articuno, and Zapdos. Pokémon are popping up all over the world, typically in places associated with their Type. Grass Pokémon are going to be in grassy areas, Water Pokémon will be near lakes and streams and oceans, and Ghost Pokémon will be more prevalent at night. Capturing every Pokémon is going to require a little traveling, however, as there are a couple of places in the world with a single Pokémon that is exclusive to that area.
- Tauros is only available in North America
- Mr. Mime is only available in Europe
- Kangaskhan is only available in Australia
- Farfetch'd is only available in Asia
Trading Pokémon is currently not something you can do in the game, but according to Niantic that feature will be available in a future update.
Pokéstops are an easy way to collect items, eggs, and experience. Each one is indicated on your map, and you can click them even if you're not in range yet. You won't be able to check in until the Pokéstop is close by, but it's an easy way to see where a Pokéstop is located before checking in there.
When a Pokéstop is within your range, you'll want to tap on it. This will bring up a screen, swipe across and you'll be rewarded with a variety of items. The items in questions can range from eggs, to various different kinds of Poké Balls, to revives or healing potions for the Pokémon in your roster.
Pokéstops are important or iconic areas around the city you are in. They may be special benches with dedication plaques, or permanent art installations, or historic landmarks. They will never be something as mundane as a stop sign. They will also never be in a location that is not accessible to the public, like inside a private building, or beyond a locked gate. Do not trespass onto someone's property to get to a Pokéstop!
Once you've got the basics of gameplay, the next thing to do of course is go out and find Pokémon. While you're running around in the world, you'll see your avatar moving along the map using your GPS. When it comes time to capture Pokémon, they'll pop up on your screen from anywhere.
You will find Pokémon in the wild by physically walking around your city. Since it is dangerous to walk around with your phone in your face, the game is designed to allow you to keep your eyes free while you wander. You can keep your phone at your side while you walk, and when you are near a Pokémon, you'll get a notification in the form of a vibration and the Pokémon's unique call. You can then tap on that character to attempt a capture.
Surprise! You can now see that Pokémon in the world, right behind your phone! To capture this Pokémon, place your finger on the floating Poké Ball you see on your screen and flick it towards the character. If the Poké Ball hits the Pokémon, you'll see the ball open and attempt a capture. If the capture is successful, you'll see some congratulatory stars and will return to the Pokédex. If the capture is unsuccessful, the Pokémon will break free from the Poké Ball and you will have to try again.
There are several tricks for capturing a stubborn Pokémon. The first is to pay attention to its difficulty ring. A small colored ring will appear around the Pokémon when you try to capture it. The closer that ring is to the color green, the easier that Pokémon is to capture. The closer that ring is to red, the more difficult that Pokémon will be to capture. Here's how you change that difficulty color:
- Feed the Pokémon a Razz Berry — go into your Backpack and select Razz Berry. Tap on the berry to feed it to the Pokémon. This will make the Pokémon somewhat distracted, and more easy to catch. Razz Berries only work once, so if you miss you'll need to try feeding the Pokémon another.
- Use a stronger Poké Ball — as you level up, you will have access to stronger and more capable Poké Balls. These are available in much lower numbers, and are meant to be used sparingly, but will quickly change the difficulty color of your Pokémon when you need an advantage.
This ring also serves as a way to offer accuracy bonuses. If you land your thrown Poké Ball inside the color ring, you will be awarded extra experience points (XP) for the capture. If you land a thrown Poké Ball while throwing a curveball, you can gain even more XP.
Items, items, items
In a game like Pokémon, having access to items is kind of mandatory. You'll need:
- Poké Balls in order to capture Pokémon
- Potions to heal Pokémon
- Revives to wake Pokémon if they fall in battle
... and the list goes on! As you increase in level, you'll find stronger versions of these items that will eventually be swapped out for the original versions you used. It's a long list of things to keep track of once you've gone beyond level 20 in the game, and it keeps going all the way to level 40!
You never know what you're going to come across at a Pokéstop but items are always helpful. Each item has a specific use in the game. For the most part items fall under recovery, and capture. That is, items either help your Pokémon to recover from wounds, or are one of a variety of Poké Balls used to capture Pokémon. There are also incense to lure Pokémon to you, Lucky Eggs which grant you double experience for 30 minutes, Lure Patches which will draw Pokémon to a Pokéstop, Razz Berries which make it easier to catch more of the same species of Pokémon and eggs which can hatch into new Pokémon.
Eggs and incubators
As you move through the world, and collect items from Pokéstops you might just luck out and pick up an egg. You can incubate eggs in order to hatch them, which will net you a Pokémon in the progress. You start the game with a single incubator, although you can purchase more. The only way to get eggs though is by finding them at Pokéstops.
To hatch an egg, you must first place it in an incubator. When you place an egg into the incubator, it will let you know how far you need to physically walk in order to hatch it. Initially, you'll only have access to a single incubator which lasts forever. You can purchase more incubators from the store for 180 coins each, and those will last for 5 uses before breaking down.
Hatching eggs comes in three varieties:
- 2km travelled
- 5km travelled
- 10km travelled
When Eggs hatch, you can generally expect to find Pokémon similar to common Pokémon from the Pokéstop where you found the egg, but may occasionally find something more rare. The Eggs with the larger distance often yields a greater reward in terms of rarity, but you have no control over how strong that Pokémon is when it hatches.
The big benefit to hatching an egg is't so much the Pokémon inside, but the Pokémon Candy that comes with it. Candy is used to evolve Pokémon, so you're going to need lots of it. While you gain three Candy for each Pokémon you capture, you get a lot more from hatching an egg!
Evolution is a natural part of Pokémon that's to be expected in any Pokémon game and Pokémon Go is no different. However, evolution doesn't work the same way in Pokémon Go as it does in the classic games, though. Pokémon don't evolve when they level up through earning experience from battles with other Pokémon trainers. Instead, you'll need to grab up duplicates of the same Pokémon, which drop Candy and Stardust. Candies are Pokémon specific and can be used to level up any Pokémon in that evolutionary line.
For example, you can use Candy that Charmander has dropped to evolve a Chameleon. Once you have gathered enough of a single type of Pokémon, you'll be able to use the Candies to evolve it. However you are still saddled with all those duplicates you gathered up. The game does allow you to send unwanted Pokémon to the Professor in exchange for additional Candy, but be careful. Once sent to the Professor, you can never get a Pokémon back.
In addition to giving you the next evolutionary stage of a Pokémon, evolving will raise a Pokémon's CP and HP. CP represents how strong a Pokémon's attacks are while HP represents how much damage a Pokémon can take.
Much like Pokéstops, Gyms are actual landmarks out in the world, and they are where real Pokémon battles happen. You can claim them for your team, or help level up a Gym already claimed for your team to gain build up its prestige. Trainers can take over an unoccupied Gym and claim it for the Red, Blue, or Yellow team. If your team's color is in control of a Gym, you are able to train in it. If a Gym is already held by an opposing team, you'll need to battle the Pokémon holding it to lower its prestige.
This triggers a fun mini-game where you'll need to attack the opposing Pokémon, and dodge their attacks. When battling, you have three options. You can tap the screen to attack, press and hold the screen to initiate a special attack, and swipe left or right to dodge an opponent's attack. Just like in traditional Pokémon games, the goal is to reduce your opponent's Pokémon's hit points to zero.
Gyms earn prestige when either you train your Pokémon in one that your team controls, and lose prestige when opposing teams win battles against the Pokémon left there. Your team's Gym will earn experience points to gain prestige, which will amount to leveling up the Gym. As its levels increase, so do the number of Gym Leaders. For example, if your Gym has reached level three, you can have three Gym Leaders in it, which makes it harder for opposing teams to overthrow.
To steal control of a Gym that is already occupied by an opposing team, you must win your battle against all of the Gym Leaders' Pokemon in it. Beating all the leaders in the Gym will lower the prestige but it will take multiple battles against the same Pokémon in order to occupy it for your team.
You'll gain XP as you move through the world by exploring Pokéstops and battling at Gyms, and like most games each level has an amount of XP you need to earn in order to move on through the next level. Currently, there are 40 levels in Pokémon Go. Here are the big things you need to know:
- Each level increase comes with a set of gifts as a reward
- You must be level 5 before you can participate in Gym battles and choose a faction.
- You start receiving better Poké Balls at level 12
- The jump from level 20 to level 21 is twice the XP it took to get to level 20 from level 19
Leveling up through the initial levels quickly is all about going out and doing the work. You play the game, gather as many Pokémon as possible, and then use an item called a Lucky Egg to quickly gain XP. Most players recommend using the first 20 levels to store up as much Stardust as possible, so you have lots of it on hand to power up more capable Pokémon once you're at a level to better take and hold a Gym.
Pokémon Go Plus [AKA: Poké Watch]
If you decide to go all-in and invest in a Pokémon Go Plus wearable, you can play the game without having to take your phone out of your pocket. The device comes with a detachable band and a clip, so you can wear it on your wrist or lapel, or backpack, or wherever.
When worn, the Pokémon Go Plus acts as a notification device, alerting you when a Pokéstop or Pokémon is nearby. You will receive a different vibration, depending on what you are near. You can then use the Pokémon Go Plus to activate a Pokéstop or even catch a Pokémon without having to look at your phone at all. To activate a Pokéstop or catch a Pokémon, you will press the wearable device in a specific pattern.
The Pokémon Go Plus accessory is expected to be available in October.
Get out there and play!
There is tons to explore with Pokémon Go whether you've been playing the games for years, or you're checking it out for the first time. This is just the beginning, we know that trading and Poké Centers and the Pokémon Go Plus accessory are all on the way to improve the experience.
The awesome part is that it doesn't matter whether you're an Android fan, or more comfortable with an iPhone, Pokemon Go will be available to you. It's a global game, which means that it also doesn't matter where in the world you are, although finding Pokemon will require you to travel a fair bit.