Unless you've been living under a rock (and one with no Pokémon around it), you must have heard of the augmented reality game taking over the world by now, Pokémon Go.
In all likelihood, your social media feeds are full of people going on about the game - whether to express their enjoyment about how fun it is to play, or to bemoan how much it's taken over other people's lives - and your curiosity may well be piqued at this point.
Pokémon Go appears relatively simple once you’ve made it past the opening tutorial, but there are a lot of hidden secrets and gameplay mechanics that aren’t fully explained in-game, and you're going to need to know them to maximize your enjoyment of the game.
If you're a complete newcomer to the world of Pokémon, or even if you're a master but don't know absolutely everything, the following tips will help you out on your journey.
Choosing Your Starter Pokémon and How to Get Pikachu
Shortly after starting the game, you’ll choose between Charmander, Squirtle or Bulbasaur, but don’t overthink the decision. Unlike previous Pokémon titles, the two remaining choices are relatively easy to find once you progress further in the app.
If you want a Pikachu instead of selecting a Charmander, Squirtle or Bulbasaur, walk away from the trio and repeat the process until a Pikachu appears.
You’ll start your journey with a set number of Pokéballs, which are used to capture Pokémon. If you’re running low, you can find more Pokéballs from Pokéstops or buy purchasing them in the app’s store.
When you encounter a wild Pokémon, pay close attention to the size and color of the circular marker around it. Green means it will be easy to capture, amber means moderately difficult and red means difficult.
You want to be throwing your Pokéball when the inner-circle is at its largest, and you will be rewarded with extra experience for accurate throws.
If you’re feeling fancy, you can throw a curveball by spinning the Pokéball clockwise before throwing it. It’s difficult to master, but it provides a better experience boost than normal throws.
Pokéstops are notable points of interest that reward you with Pokéballs, new items and eggs that can hatch new Pokémon. You’ll also be rewarded with experience every time you visit, so be sure to hit up as many as possible.
Pokéstops also refresh every five minutes, so try and explore areas where there are a lot in one place!
Leveling Up and Evolving Your Pokémon
In Pokémon Go, your Pokémon’s level is measured by their amount of CP, short for "combat power." You’ll need stardust to level your Pokémon.
Each time you capture a new Pokémon, you’ll be rewarded with Stardust, and you can find more from Pokéstops. You’ll also be given candy when you a capture a Pokémon, which is what you will need to evolve them.
Capture everything you see. Don’t worry about having 20 Pidgeys in your party. If you click on the Pokémon, you’ll see an option saying "transfer." Clicking this will lose the Pokémon for good, but in return you’ll be given a candy piece.
The quickest way to evolve your Pokémon is by capturing lots of the same type and then transferring them to obtain extra candy. Candy is also specific to each individual Pokémon: you can’t catch lots of Rattata and then use the candy from those captures to evolve your Charmander, for example.
Finding Wild Pokémon
The app has been built around the idea of exploration, so get out there and start walking! Try and plan your routes around Pokéstops, as the extra experience and items will prove useful.
As you level up, you’ll be given new items, such as Incense and Lore Modules. The former will attract wild Pokémon to your location, while Lore Modules can be used at Pokéstops to encourage nearby Pokémon to travel to your stop.
The bottom right corner of the app shows the rough location of nearby Pokémon, indicated by the amount of prints underneath them: three being the furthest away and one being the closest. To be honest, this is one feature of the app that appears to be pretty broken right now. We often discover entirely new Pokémon that were never on the location map to begin with, and spending too much time trying to track the whereabouts of an undiscovered Pokémon purely by a means of walking the same route in different directions is a sure way of sapping the enjoyment out of the app.
If you spend too much time simply walking up and down your street, you’ll find yourself swamped with an abundance of Rattata and Pidgey. Some of the better locations are areas with water nearby, or local parks and large playing fields. Certain Pokémon will only appear at night, so make a habit of loading the app up at different times of the day.
The discovery of rarer Pokémon is also dependent on your player level, so be sure to pursue as many different experience gains as possible. Capturing and evolving lots of Pokémon - specifically Rattata and Pidgey - is an easy way to do this.
Covering Distance and Egg Hatching
One of the most important things you need to know about Pokémon Go is that it stops tracking your distance traveled if you’re traveling at speeds over 20kmph. Essentially, it isn’t possible to hatch that 10km egg you’ve been nursing by driving around in a car for half an hour.
However, an easy to way to hatch eggs, visit loads of Pokéstops and discover new Pokémon is by traveling by bus or cycling. Bus journeys are a really easy way of visiting Pokéstops due to the amount of times they stop; allowing you enough time to gather the items you need.
Cycling is the easiest way to cover distance, which will prove useful when you have a lot of eggs you need to hatch. The rarity of your hatched Pokémon is dependent on how far you need to travel, with 10km eggs hatching the rare Pokémon.
Once you reach level five, you’ll choose between three teams and be able to fight in gym battles. There isn’t much point taking part in battles until you have at least six Pokémon at a similar level to the team you’re taking on, though it’s worth bearing in mind that your old-school Pokémon type advantages all come into play.
To dodge attacks, swipe left or right on the screen during battle, and pay close attention to the indicator at the bottom of the screen for when you can perform special attacks.
Gyms are controlled by one of three teams, and if you manage to have one of your Pokémon in control of a gym for longer than 23 hours, you’ll be rewarded with extra stardust and experience.
Level Up Carefully
Evolving low-level Pokémon is fine if you’re transferring them for extra candy, but make a habit of saving your Stardust to only level up your favorite Pokémon. Don’t try and spread Stardust across your whole party, as you want Pokémon with higher CP for gym battles and to encourage the discovery of similarly leveled Pokémon.
Once your team are averaging out at a decent level, you’ll find yourself encountering more powerful Pokémon. Make sure you pay attention to the move sets of your Pokémon, too. It may be worth leveling up weaker Pokémon if they possess more advantageous attacks than their stronger counterparts, as these will ultimately be more useful in gym battles.
To avoid releasing the wrong Pokémon, be sure to nickname your favorites.
How To Deal With In-App Crashes
Due to the overwhelming demand for the app, the game is still encountering issues. We’ve discovered the majority of our crashes are happening after we capture Pokémon.
If your Pokéball animation freezes on-screen, simply close the app and restart it. Sometimes this can actually help with the discovery of new Pokémon - you’ll usually find Pokémon in your location when you restart the app.
Don’t spend too much time worrying about being out-leveled by other players. Play the app at your own pace, and don’t get bogged down if you aren’t finding the Pokémon you want.
Try and visit as many new places as possible, speak to any other players you might meet on your journeys and make use of all above advice to level up faster.
Want to know what happens after you catch every Pokémon? Find out here.