Time to take hold of your dreams, become a Pokémon trainer, and catch ’em all!
Most people have, at least heard of Pokémon, the game where you travel the world in order to collect every pocket monster on the planet. The Pokémon Company and Niantic Labs have teamed up to give us a chance to catch them all right on our iPhone with Pokémon Go.
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 find, and how evolution works. We’ve got the definitive guide to Pokémon Go. Keep reading for all the details!
In the world Your first PokémonTeams PokémonPokéstopsCapturing PokémonItems, items, itemsEggs and incubatorsGymsEvolutionLeveling upPokémon 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 so you 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, Pokémon Go displays an animated version of Google maps. You can see roads, landmarks, and Pokéstops. As you move, your avatar does too. As you walk along, 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 can choose gender, eye color, hair color, shirt, hat, pants, shoes and the style of your backpack. Player icon: Your player icon is at the bottom left corner of the screen. 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 are stored. Pokédex: Your index of Pokémon, complete with information on all the species you’ve already caught. Pokémon: From here you can see all the Pokémon that are in your possession. Nearby Pokémon: You can see what Pokémon are nearby by checking the Nearby section in the bottom right corner of the screen.
Your first Pokémon
Just like when a trainer begins his first journey and is giving a choice of which Pokémon to start with, so you are presented with three options. Right after you have finished building your avatar and open the world, three Pokémon will appear right in front of you. You can choose from Bulbasaur, Charmander, or Squirtle. Which will you choose?
When you reach your first Gym, you’ll be asked to join one of three color coded teams: Blue, Red, or Yellow, named for the original US titles – Pokémon Red, Pokémon Blue, and Pokémon Yellow: Special Pikachu Edition. The team you chose 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. Much like in Ingress, teams can turn Pokémon Go from a single player experience to a group sport.
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. There’s no news yet on events that will give you more to do with your team, but we’re hopeful that we’ll see them after the game has been out for a while.
Over the years we’ve been introduced to, and fallen in love with, hundreds of pocket monsters. For now however it appears that we aren’t getting access to all of the Pokémon that you might find on your Nintendo DS. Instead, it’s back to basics. So far, we’ve seen a variety of Pokémon types, and even Pokémon in the wild that you might not expect, like Flareon and Jolteon. While we haven’t spotted any Legendary Pokémon, that doesn’t mean they aren’t out there hiding somewhere as well.
Over 100 Pokémon from Pokémon Red and Blue are all available for capture. It’s unclear exactly which Pokémon are out in the wild, so the only way to find out is by collecting all the pocket monsters that you find. Each geographical area has specific Pokémon type. Don’t get discouraged if you keep finding the same type. You’ll need to travel around a bit to find everybody. You can head to local lakes or beaches to find water type pokemon. If you aren’t near a natural body of water, try heading to a pond at a local park.
PokéStops are an easy way to collect items, eggs, and experience. PokéStops are indicated on your map. You can tap them even if you’re not in range yet, but you won’t be able to check in until the PokéStop is close by.
When a PokéStop is within your range, you can tap on it. It will open up to a close up of the PokéStop symbol with a disc in the middle. Swipe across the disc and you’ll be rewarded with a variety of items. Items range from eggs, to various different kinds of Poké Balls, to revives or healing potions for the Pokémon in your roster. As you increase in levels, you will unlock new items to collect.
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.
Once you’ve got the basics of gameplay you can go out and find Pokémon. While you’re walking around, you’ll see your avatar moving along the map using your GPS. When a Pokémon is close enough to capture, it will pop up on your screen.
You will find Pokémon in the wild by physically walking around your city. Stick to populated areas. Pokémon appear most often near PokéStops. The more PokéStops nearby, the more often they appear. Try visiting locations with a lot of public art, like tourist spots or malls.
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 lift your device to try to capture it.
Make sure your phone has the proper settings on. Vibration must be enabled for the game’s notification to work. Check to make sure your phone is set to ring and vibration.
Capturing a Pokémon is fairly simple. When you see one you want to capture, tap on it. Doing this will drop you out of the map, and launch an augmented reality experience with the Pokémon dancing around in realtime. If you don’t see it on the screen, move your phone around until it appears. There are arrows on the side of the screen to guide you in the right direction.
The next step is to throw a Poké Ball at the Pokémon, by swiping towards it. Aim carefully or you will miss. Once the Poké Ball hits the Pokémon, there will be a small animation showing it being captured, or escaping the Poké Ball. Be aware though, if you take too many tries, it may run away.
Some Pokémon are stronger than others and require a more powerful Poké Ball. If the ring surrounding the Pokémon is green, the current Poké Ball you are using will work. If it is yellow, it may work, or the Pokémon may escape. When it is red, you will definitely need to use a more powerful Poké Ball.
You can use special items to attract Pokémon. Use incense to lure Pokémon to your location for 30 minutes. A Lure Patch will draw Pokémon to a PokéStop for 15 minutes.
More than one person can catch the same Pokémon at the same time. So, if you and your friend see the same Pokémon on the street, you can both capture it on your separate devices. It doesn’t disappear just because another player catches it.
Items, items, items
Items are a must-have in this game. You need Poké Balls to capture Pokémon, potions to heal them, and revives to wake them if they fall during battle at a Gym. There is a store where you can purchase some items, like incubators, Pokémon lures, and bag and storage upgrades. But most items you will need are only found when you visit Pokéstops.
You never know what you’re going to come across at a Pokéstop but it’s 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. You can also find incense, which lures Pokémon to you, Lucky Eggs which grant you double experience for 30 minutes, Lure Patches which 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 collecting 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, but you can purchase more. The only way to get an egg is by finding one at a Pokéstop.
To hatch an egg, you must first place it in an incubator. Once inside, the incubator will show how far you need to physically walk in order to hatch the egg. 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. When eggs hatch, you can generally expect to find Pokémon similar to common Pokémon from the Pokéstop where you found the egg, but you may occasionally find something you have not yet come across.
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 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.
Entering a Gym triggers a fun mini-game where you 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 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.
Evolution doesn’t work the same way in Pokémon Go as it does in the classic games. Pokémon don’t evolve when they level up through earning experience from battles with other Pokémon trainers. Instead, you must catch 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 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. Stats may also be increased by combining Candy and Stardust.
You gain experience by exploring Pokéstops and battling at Gyms. With the first five levels, your trainer unlocks access to higher quality Pokéballs. In addition to this, Niantic has said that higher trainer levels are more effective when it comes to battling at Gyms. The higher your level, the easier time you’re going to have. If you have a higher level than the trainer, or trainers, who left a Pokémon at the Gym you’ve got a better chance of taking it over. This is especially true when it comes to fighting multiple trainers to take over a single 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.
There is a lot to explore with Pokémon Go whether you’ve been playing the Nintendo games for years, or you’re checking it out for the first time. This is just the beginning too. There are sure to be plenty of new features after the game has been around for a while.
The awesome part is that it doesn’t matter whether you’re an Android fan, or more comfortable with an iPhone, you can play Pokémon Go. It’s a global game, which means that it also doesn’t matter where in the world you are, although finding all of the Pokémon will require you to travel a fair bit.
You can check out our first impressions of Pokemon Go from Jen on Android Central, or Pokemon Go with Lory here on iMore if you want more details.
Were you a beta tester? What are your thoughts on the game? Be sure to jump into the comments and tell us about it!