Pokémon Go beginner’s guide: All you need to know to start your Pokémon journey.
Most people have at least heard of Pokémon — Nintendo’s ever-popular title — which asks players to travel a fictional world in order to collect every creature out there. But today’s world is not the world of the 1990s: Nintendo and Niantic Labs have teamed up to let players catch Pokémon in the very world we live in, thanks to a combination of GPS, augmented reality, and dorky-cute graphics.
This is Pokémon Go. It’s an iPhone and Android game that’s quickly swept the world, and we’ve got all the tips, tricks, and cheats you need to catch ’em all.
What the heck is Pokémon Go?
If you’ve been living under a rock or otherwise have kept yourself off the internet this weekend, you may have missed the official launch of Niantic and Nintendo’s already-ridiculously-popular new game, Pokémon Go.
It retains the basics of Pokémon games past — catching Pokémon, battling at Gyms, using items, evolving your creatures — with a crazy twist: You’re doing it all in the real world. That means instead of tapping or using a D-pad to tell your virtual avatar where to go to find Pokémon, you’re actually walking. In the real world. Crazy, we know.
You may have stumbled onto this page knowing nothing about Pokémon. That’s okay. You don’t have to be a fan of the previous games or even know the lore to have fun with this game: While it may overtly promote itself as a game about catching Pokémon and battling, the real joy is exploring the real world with your friends, giggling while you check in at historical monuments disguised as PokéStops, and making new connections in your neighborhood with other would-be Pokétrainers.
What you need to know about Pokémon
Whether you’ve never caught a Pokémon before or you’ve been collecting these creatures since childhood, you’ll quickly get introduced to the Pokémon of this world after starting the game. (Heck, the very first screen you see after logging in is of a giant Gyarados menacing an unaware player, as a warning to stay alert while playing.)
At the start, you’ll only be able to catch Nintendo’s original lineup of Pokémon — those found in the Red, Blue, and Yellow titles — though we expect expansions to appear as the game grows and works out the bugs.
Pokémon come in variety of types, shapes, and sizes: Of the over 100 Pokémon available for capture, you’ll find creatures of the Fairy, Psychic, Electric, Grass, Water, Ghost, Bug, Rock, Ground, Poison, Flying, and Normal type. We haven’t spotted any Legendary Pokémon quite yet, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t out there hiding.
Each geographical area has a specific Pokémon type, and some creatures are more difficult to find than others. If you keep running into the same group of Pidgey and Caterpie, don’t lose hope: You need to travel around your area to find all the Pokémon. You can head to local lakes, ponds, or beaches to find Water-type Pokémon, for example, or wait until the evening to have a better chance at grabbing a Fairy type.
To start levelling up and gaining experience points, you’ll need to start amassing not only Pokémon, but also items to help build and strengthen your team. You can collect items — more on those later — from Pokéstops. These are the 3D blue diamonds on your map and represent free supply stores which help you collect all the necessary items to help your roster of fledgling Pokémon along.
INCENSE AND LURE MODULES
You’ll want to start attracting more Pokémon so you can catch them and amass a larger team. When you start the game, you’re given two Incense pots to get you going. Activate them to emit a fragrance that’ll have the little creatures drawn to your presence like bees to honey.
Whereas Incense pots allow only you to attract Pokémon, Lure Modules work for every single trainer in the vicinity and can be used on Pokéstops. The stop will then start producing pink petals to let you know it’s a hotspot for Pokémon.
So, now to catch your Pokémon. To do that, you’ll need Pokéballs. These can be collected from Pokéstops or bought with the game’s currency: Pokécoins. Try spinning the ball before you throw to add to its effectiveness.
There are three factions or teams that Professor Willow will ask you to join once you enter a gym — see below — for the first time. Which team you’ll join depends on which names or colours you prefer, as no team is better than the other. You can pick from Team Mystic (blue) Team Valor (red) and Team Instinct (yellow).
Gyms are marked by large towers on your map and are typically associated with landmarks or points of interest. Once you reach level five you can start battling for control of gyms.
Gyms are important because this is where the battles take place. You and your team will aim to capture gyms by defeating other teams. Gyms that aren’t owned already show up grey on your map. Place your Pokémon here and the gym is yours. When a gym is already occupied, it will show up with the team’s colour, and you can challenge ownership by battling its occupants.
This is where building a balanced team helps. For example, Pokémon with water strength are good lined up against Pokémon with a fire strength. Conversely, fire outmuscles grass and so on, like a game of rock, paper, scissors.
Rule the gyms and you rule the game — simple.
POTIONS, SUPER POTIONS AND REVIVES
After a hard battle, your Pokémon will need recovery before the next challenge. Applying potions can heal wounds and super potions heal them quicker. Revive is a medicine that completely restores a Pokémon that has fainted due to defeat or distress from a taxing battle.
CANDY AND STARDUST
Candy and Stardust help evolve your Pokémon into fighting superstars. Again, these are among the items that can be collected from Pokéstops. In addition you can give Pokémon back to the professor who will hand over candy in exchange.
Upgrading your Pokémon is important as you progress through the game. Candy is specific to the Pokémon you apply it to whereas Stardust can be used on anything.
Eggs can hatch Pokémon and also add XP and stardust to your arsenal. You can hatch them by walking around, so the more you play, the more you’ll gain.
And don’t think you can cheat by driving. The system only gives you credit for travelling under 20mph, so cycling and skateboarding are the only things you’ll get away with.
These are the fruit you can use to try to make hard-to-catch Pokémon easier to nab. Throw one out during a capture scenario and you should be able to bring the insolent little critter around. Once you’ve gained their trust, it’ll make catching them far easier.
Finally, the ‘Nearby’ guide in the bottom-right of your screen is a useful tool to be aware of. Each Pokémon on the list will have footprints below them. These little steps mean you can track the Pokémon you may be lacking in your line-up. You can then purposefully navigate to the ones you need. Zero steps, they’re right on top of you, three, and you’ve got further to go.
Simply circle the one you want and don’t close the grid. The closer it gets to the top left, the closer you are. If it drops a place, you’re walking in the wrong direction. It’s a bit like that “warmer, colder” game you played as a kid.
Generally speaking, you don’t have to go that far. Just make sure that you’ve got the best weapons in your holster to capture that rare and powerful Pokémon.