Pokémon GO: Everything you should know

Pokémon GO: Everything you should know

It’s been a long, long wait, but Pokémon GO is finally releasing! Gamers from all over the world are facing the harsh outdoors to catch them all. Here’s everything you should know about Pokémon GO.

08-07-2016  -  by Thijs Kaagman

What is Pokémon GO?

Pokémon GO is the first full-fledged Pokémon game on a platform that is not made by Nintendo. It’s released for iOS and Android as a free app that’s supported by microtransactions. And it’s all about catching Pokémon!

How does it work?

Players turn on their GPS signal and will see their Pokémon trainer on a map (of their real environment) that reminds us of a simple version of Google Maps. Local landmarks like churches, statues or McDonalds restaurants function as PokéStops or Gyms (more on that later). By walking around you can encounter wild Pokémon and it’s up to you to catch them.


How do I catch Pokémon?

After tapping a wild Pokémon on the map, you will enter a battle (sort of) with it. You can turn on your camera and the wild Pidgey will be displayed on the sidewalk or park bench in front of you, or you can turn the camera off and it’ll just appear in a prerendered environment. You have to catch it by flicking a Pokéball in its direction. You can hold your finger on the ball and aim for the coloured circle for some bonus experience points, but just hitting the Pidgey in the face with the ball should be enough to capture it.

Now what?

Catch more Pokémon! Seriously, you need a whole bunch of Candy and Stardust to evolve your Pokémon or upgrade their CP. Then you’ll need to stock up on Potions, Revives, Incences, Egg Incubators and a load of Pokéballs by visiting PokéStops. Confusing? Let’s break it down even further!

CP

When catching a Pokémon, you will notice it has a certain CP value. This is its Combat Power, which determines how strong that Pokémon is. You can upgrade this value by spending Candy and Stardust, or by letting your Pokémon evolve. The white circle above your Pokémon in its summary, roughly indicates what its maximum CP will be. 

Your trainer will grow in levels as well, and the higher your level, the stronger the wild Pokémon in your environment become. This has nothing to do with rarity; you can still catch a 25 CP Dragonite early on in the game and encounter a 150 CP Pidgey next week.

Candy and Stardust

By capturing a Pokémon, you will earn Candy and Stardust. Stardust is a pretty straightforward currency, you’ll just need a bunch of it. Candy is a bit more difficult, as it’s linked to the Pokémon itself. By capturing a Weedle, you will earn Weedle Candy. Now you’ll probably catch more than one Weedle, so be sure to pick out the strongest one (with the highest CP value) in your collection and send the others off to the Professor (click Transfer in their summary window), which will give you more Weedle Candy.

After acquiring a certain amount of Weedle Candy, you can choose to evolve it into a Kakuna. Catching more Weedle’s or Kakuna’s will still earn you Weedle Candy and evolving it into a Beedrill will also still require Weedle Candy. So keep catching those Weedle’s even if you have a bunch already!

PokéStops

On your map you will see blue markers, these are PokéStops. They’re usually on local landmarks like old buildings, monuments, statues or other points of interest. Approach them and click on the marker to see a picture of the landmark. When you spin that picture by swiping your screen, a bunch of items will pop out. At first these will mostly be Pokéballs (good, you’ll need plenty), but later on it can also be Eggs or healing items like Potions and Revives.

Eggs

Once you get an Egg (check them out on the second tab of your Pokémon screen), you can start incubating them. Put the Egg in an incubator and keep the app open while walking around the neighbourhood. Serebii has a nice overview of the possible Pokémon in those eggs.

Gyms

So, you’ve got your Eggs incubating, you’ve found some Potions and your Pidgey is gaining power by sacrificing its brethren to the Professor and forcefeeding it candy. It’s time to hit the Gym! Look up the big Gym markers in your neighbourhood and get over there to claim it. Please note; you have to be level 5 to start using the Gyms. There's three possible scenario's:

Grey
When it’s grey, the Gym is neutral and you can just leave one of your own Pokémon there to claim it for your team.

Your colour
When you first encounter a Gym, you will have to choose a team (Blue, Red or Yellow). When you encounter a Gym that is captured by your team, you can train with the Pokémon there to empower it. When you raise it to a sufficient level, a new spot will open up for you to leave one of your Pokémon, making the gym a bit harder to capture for the opposing teams.

A different colour
When the Gym is in the hands of Team Red while you’re Team Blue, you’ll first have to defeat their Pokémon. The higher the level and the more Pokémon are defending the Gym, the harder it will be to bring it down to Neutral and claim it for your team.

You can claim rewards for your Gyms every 20 hours. Go to the Shop and click on the little shield in the top right corner to claim 10 PokéCoins and 500 Stardust for every Pokémon you have left at a Gym.


Microtransactions

While Pokémon GO is completely free to play, there are microtransactions in the game. You can buy Pikachu Coins, which you can use to buy Pokéballs, Incense, extra bag space or even extra Egg Incubators. If you're playing on iOS, you can fill up your iTunes credit by clicking the button below (available in selected regions).

iTunes products

Tips & Tricks

And that’s the basics for Pokémon GO! But there’s way more than meets the eye, so here’s a couple more tips, to make sure you’ll be the Pokémon Master of your neighbourhood.

Upgrades vs Evolving
Upgrading and evolving both require Candy. But which one should you prioritize? Evolving a Pokémon earns you a lot of experience, which will increase your level and increase the chance of finding stronger Pokémon.
At low levels, save up the candy for rare Pokémon, but try to catch as many Pidgey’s and Rattata’s as you can and evolve them as soon as possible. This will rapidly increase your level and within hours you’ll be catching much stronger Pokémon. Only once you have a Pokémon at a nice CP level, try to upgrade them as much as possible before or after evolving (this doesn't seem to make much of a difference).

Powerleveling
Use an Incense or Lure Module (place these on PokéStops) together with a Lucky Egg. This will earn you a lot of experience, even if you're just catching the same Pokémon over and over. You can also save up on Candy and Pokémon, and mass-evolve them at once while using a Lucky Egg. Save up 200 Rattata Candy, catch yourself 8 Rattata and you can grab some easy experience within minutes.

Start with Pikachu
Not feeling like picking Charmander, Squirtle or Bulbasaur? Walk away from them a couple of times when choosing your starter Pokémon. Eventually they will respawn with a Pikachu!

Nearby Pokémon
In the bottom right corner of your screen, you can see what Pokémon are nearby. You’ll see a silhouette when it’s a Pokémon you haven’t encountered yet, but it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out which one it is. All those years of playing "Who's that Pokémon!?" on the tv-show finally pay off! By tapping one of them, you can ‘track’ it. The paw prints will indicate how far away that Pokémon is, so start walking around and see if you can get any closer.

Catching harder Pokémon
When you press and hold the Pokéball before throwing it, you will see a coloured circle. This can offer some bonus points, but it also displays how hard it is to catch this Pokémon. A Pokémon with a red circle is likely to escape its ball a few times before being caught. Throwing some Razz Berries at it (you will get these at a later level) will lower his resistance.

Pokémon types
Try visiting different area’s in your environment. Walking around near a river actually increases the chance of finding Water Pokémon!

Save that battery
It’s probably wise to put the app in Battery Save mode (see the settings) when you're playing a lot. It will black out your screen when you hold the phone upside down, but keeps the app active. So keep the app running, put your phone upside down in your pocket and wait for the vibration to tell you when a Pokémon is near.

Limit your data (and battery)
Pokémon GO takes its maps from Google Maps. You can make parts of those maps available offline (see your Google Maps settings), which will decrease the mobile data and battery power your GO app uses.

Catch everything
The best advice I can give you; just catch anything you come across. You’re going to need a lot of Candy and Stardust to upgrade your team. You might also want to go out of your way to visit those PokéStops, because you will definitely need the Pokéballs!

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