It’s hard to believe how far we’ve come with augmented reality technology. Hardly twenty years after the Virtual Boy crashed and burned on the gaming market, Nintendo has managed to redeem themselves with their explosively popular free-to-play app, Pokemon Go. Developed by Niantic, this app allows you to capture your favorite ‘mons right from your real-world surroundings, but don’t let the simple premise fool you. It’s going to take a lot of patience and a lot more legwork to discover every secret the game has to offer, and we’re here to help.
How to play
As with all apps, Pokemon Go can be downloaded for free from both the iOS and Google Play stores. Once you have your location set and your avatar ready to run, it’s time to choose your starter. Players can choose between franchise favorites Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle. If you’re feeling patient, you can also unlock a secret fourth Pokemon, listed below. Players must physically travel around a virtual map based on their geographical location, catching randomly generated wild Pokemon along the way, and visit PokeStops and Gyms. Once you have a wild Pokemon in your sights, fling a Pokeball at it by flicking your finger from the bottom of your phone screen. Catch rates vary between Pokemon and are heavily influenced by the type of Pokeball used. If you manage to successfully capture one, it will be added to your Pokedex and gift you with two types of currency: Candies and Stardust. While evolutions can only be initiated by Candies, both currencies can be used to raise your Pokemon’s Combat Power (also known as CP) and help them level up. Evolutions are required to complete your Pokedex.
If you’re running low on items, you can either purchase them with real-world currency or visit PokeStops for free. You will start with three to four items per visit but will unlock a maximum of six items once you reach level 5. PokeStops will refresh every few minutes, allowing you to gather more items without walking away.
Like PokeStops, Gyms are located around your real-world map. As of July 2017, each Gym has six permanent slots that allow you to pit your Pokemon against rival teams. Each Pokemon has a limited amount of stamina that directly impacts their CP level. If a Pokemon’s stamina is depleted, it is returned to its trainer after its next battle. Victory nets players a competitive place in the Gym and additional items.
Another new addition to Pokemon Go is Raids, collaborative fights that have you working with other players to capture rare and powerful Pokemon. With difficulty levels ranging from 1 to 5, each level offers increasingly strong Pokemon, culminating in fights with Legendaries such as Entei and Lugia. Upon defeat, you will gain a chance to catch others like them later on.
Tips & Tricks
The secret starter Pokemon
When given the prompt to select your starter Pokemon, hold on to your phone and walk around until Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle disappear from the map. This may take a few minutes. Do this three more times, and a Pikachu will spawn. Select it to initiate a catch.
Consider your location
Many wild Pokemon spawn based on your geographical location. For example, some water types are more likely to spawn near real-world water sources, such as rivers or lakes.
Check the weather
As of the Gen 3 update, real-time weather effects have been implemented into the game. Factors include rain, snow, fog, wind, and cloud coverage. Certain Pokemon types spawn more frequently in certain weather conditions. Players can also receive damage boosts and higher amounts of Stardust, depending on their surroundings. Additionally, Pokemon stats can vary between weather.
Quests reward you for completing everyday activities like finding an assigned number of Pokemon or unlocking special battles. Quests are obtained at random from Pokestops and can reward you with exclusive items and extremely rare Pokemon, such as the legendary Mew.
Bring a friend
Collaborative battles aren’t exclusive to Raids. Gyms can also be tackled with friends. If you’re struggling with a fight, bring in other players so you can attack Pokemon in waves, allowing you time to rest and replenish your ‘mons while friends bring down whatever stands in your way.
Defend your gyms
As of the latest update, Gyms have never been easier to dominate. This also means they’ve never been harder to defend. Once you take over a Gym, anchor yourself with tough-to-beat Pokemon like Blissey, Snorlax, Chansey, and Slaking.
With millions of players and hundreds of Pokemon to find, Pokemon Go is fun for all ages and has helped fans fulfill a dream twenty years in the making: to go on their own journey and finally catch ‘em all. Hopefully, this guide has brought you that much closer to finding everything the game has to offer.