How to play Pokemon Go: All the best tips and tricks you need to know to up your Pokémon Go game and become a Pokéboss quicker than your mates.
It’s official, Pokémon is back and it seems everyone, from kids to slightly embarrassed adults, have caught Pokéfever.
And while that means Nintendo and developer Niantic Labs have a major hit on their hands, it also means the competition among players is fierce.
But before you start worrying about how to outdo fellow trainers, you’ll need to make sure you can actually download the game. The UK has finally seen a full release, which means you can now head straight to the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and download the game.
And if you’re in the US, Australia, New Zealand, or Germany, you should also be able to download direct from the app stores. But if you’re unfortunate enough to live elsewhere our full ‘How to download Pokémon Go for Android‘ guide will tell you all you need to know.
For those who’ve managed to get the game working, we’ve put together some hints and tips to help you out.
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the names and phrases you’ll come across when playing the game:
Pokéstops – All the items you need to play the game are stored in these blue supply stores, dotted around the map.
Pokéballs – Used to catch Pokémon and build your team.
Incense and Lure Modules – You can use these items to attract more Pokémon to your location. At the start, this is vital to build a large team that you can then use to battle or trade for goodies further into the game.
Gyms – Available from level five, controlling gyms is what the game is all about. Located at points of interest and landmarks, these are where the battles between players and their Pokémon take place.
Factions – These are the teams you’re asked to join after reaching level five. They will determine which colour a gym turns when you claim it. Simply pick your favourite colour.
Potions, Super Potions and Revives – After a hard battle, you’ll need these to help your Pokémon recover before the next challenge.
Candy and Stardust – Think of these as supplements to make your Pokémon stronger and more evolved — absolutely vital for taking over more gyms.
Eggs – Go is big on XP, and you’ll need Lucky Eggs if you want to earn double XP. Regular eggs allow you to hatch more Pokémon to add to your team.
Razzberries – Harder to catch Pokémon can be tamed by feeding them these and winning their trust.
Footprints – Use the footprint guides in the ‘Nearby’ menu to navigate to rarer Pokémon. Three footprints means the creature is further away. No footprints means you’re very close.
Now you’re up to speed, here are our tips on how to get ahead in Pokémon Go…
1. Turn off AR
This is the easiest way to start racking up your Pokémon count. One of the game’s more intriguing features is how it uses your phone’s camera to overlay images of Pokémon onto real-world environments – a crude but still engaging form of AR. Come across a wild Pidgey or Weedle and the game will load whatever you camera is pointed at as a background on which to do battle with the newly-discovered creature.
But what you may not be aware of is that using AR mode actually makes it harder to catch Pokémon. Simply turning off AR allows you to centre the Pokémon on your screen, making it much easier to chuck Pokéballs and claim your prize.
To turn AR mode off, wait until a wild Pokémon appears and tap the AR slider on the top-right of the battle screen. Whichever creature you’re trying to enslave into your Poké-army will immediately move to the centre of the display, ready for the taking. Throw a ball or two and that wily Abra will be yours.
2. Do catch ’em all (and trade the least powerful)
This is another simple tip, but one worth knowing for those who’ve just signed up to the game. While it’s often tempting to overlook the more mundane Pokémon that crop up all the time (seriously, Weedle, piss off) you should try to catch all the creatures you can.
For example, if you’ve got an abundance of Pidgeys, you should immediately figure out which one of them is the most powerful by seeing which has the highest CP score and the highest-rated attacks. Once you know which one you’re going to keep, select the first Pidgey you want to transfer, scroll down to the bottom of the menu that pops up, and tap ‘Transfer’.
You’ll be asked to confirm, after which the Professor will provide you with Pidgey candy. Once you’ve got 12 of these, you’ll be able to upgrade your remaining Pidgey to a Pidgeotto, provided you’ve also managed to collect enough Stardust on your travels. Transfer enough Pidgeys or Pidgeottos and you’ll get enough candy to evolve the Pidgeotto to a Pidgeot.
Each Pokémon requires a different amount of candy to evolve to its next state, so keep an eye on how many of each kind you’re collecting and make sure to transfer the less powerful ones to start stacking up the candy for future evolutions.
3. Feeling Lucky? Use lucky eggs carefully
If the game is feeling generous, you may just find yourself in possession of a Lucky Egg. What the hell is that, you ask? Well, ever since we wasted our first Lucky Egg by using it at the worst possible time, we’ve made sure we know the answer to that very question.
Basically, a Lucky Egg doubles all the XP you get for 30 minutes. You should start to pick up a few once you reach level 8 or so, and they can also be bought from the shop – if you’re a dirty cheat, that is.
As the egg’s effect only lasts for half an hour, you’re going to want to spend that time as productively as you can to maximise the XP you get. Before you start the timer, then, make sure you’ve got a load of Pokémon to evolve, tons of Stardust, a Lure Module or Incense, and plenty of Pokéballs. Also make sure you’re near a Pokéstop and gym.
Once you’ve started the Lucky Egg’s timer, drop the Lure Module on the Pokéstop and immediately begin evolving your Pokémon. Pidgeys and Rattatas are good for this, as they seem to crop up all the time and only need 12 candies to evolve, but any Pokémon you have ready to evolve will net you XP once you start upgrading them – and thanks to the Egg, you’ll get double the amount.
Once the Lure Module starts to wear off and you’ve evolved all your Pokémon, head to the nearest gym and start racking up the XP by stealing the gym from those wretched Reds, or whichever team happen to be your sworn enemies.
If the gym belongs to your team, try raising its prestige with some repeat attacks, and make sure you use any extra Stardust you get to raise the level of your best Pokémon. It all adds XP and should result in a nice and productive half-hour of Lucky Egg levelling.
4. Know your ‘Nearby’ guide
There’s been a lot of confusion over how the ‘Nearby’ menu in Pokémon Go works. You may have noticed the little meter in the bottom-right of the screen, which, when tapped, shows you a list of nearby Pokémon. When you first start playing the game, that list will consist mainly of silhouettes, as you won’t have encountered many creatures. But as you start catching more, the list will show exactly which Pokémon are in your immediate vicinity.
Each creature’s distance from your location is represented by the number of footprints below their image, allowing you to track specific Pokémon by keeping an eye on the footprints as you walk around. But many players will be unaware of some of the Nearby feature’s quirks. Thanks to the efforts of Forbes writer Paul Tassi, we now have a much better understanding of this most urgent and pressing issue.
In order to track a specific creature, you can tap on their outline or image, which will highlight them in the menu itself. Now, instead of closing the menu and walking around to try and hunt them down, keep the menu open. This will let you keep track of the Pokémon’s position in the grid. If it’s in the top-left it’s very close, and if it’s in the bottom-right, it’s the furthest away.
Tassi has the full guide if you want a more in-depth exploration of the Nearby feature, but this should get you started.
5. Roll with a crew
Although Pokémon Go can be perfectly enjoyable when playing solo, if you want to move up the ranks quickly, it’s advisable to round up a few fellow trainers and travel in a pack. Pokémon Go lets you choose between joining either the Red, Blue or Yellow team once you reach level 5, which forms the basis for gym battles. Whenever you capture a gym, which are dotted around the landscape, you will claim it for your team.
And while it’s much more satisfying to steal a gym from some unsuspecting randomer, you’ll have a much easier time levelling up, at least at first, if you travel with some members of the opposite factions. That way, you can roam the land, taking gyms for your team, then losing them to your fellow travellers and repeating the process. This means you’ll all gain the XP that comes with taking and defending gyms without having to wait for an unknown Pokétrainer to come along and challenge you.
6. Save data and battery with offline maps
It’s a shame Pokémon Go is so addictive, seeing as it saps your data and battery like no other app in existence. After all, nothing thwarts the efforts of a Pokétrainer more than running out of data right when you’re about to bag a Blastoise.
Luckily, there are some general things you can do to help keep your phone’s data usage to a minimum and conserve precious battery life. While these tips won’t enhance your in-game skills, they should give you more time to move up the levels and steal the gym opposite your house back from that smug little kid that lives next door.
Our number one tip for saving both data and battery is to use Google Maps’ offline maps function. Since Pokémon Go uses Google Maps API, downloading maps from Google’s mapping service for areas you are likely to visit often means the game won’t need to spend data or battery updating your local environment.
This method has yet to be confirmed as legitimate, but there have been reports from several players who claim it helps. Plus, it makes a lot of sense, even if this Google engineer isn’t convinced:
For those that want to give it a try for themselves, just open Google Maps, tap the ‘burger’ symbol in the search bar at the top of the screen, then tap ‘Offline areas’. In the window that opens, tap the plus symbol to add your current location to the list and start downloading the map for offline usage.
Alternatively, you can search for a specific city or area, then tap on the name of the area at the bottom of the screen. This will open the information card for that area, at the top of which will be an option to download the map.
7. Other data- and battery-saving tips
And there’s more you can do to save battery life and data. Firstly, make sure your phone isn’t downloading automatic app updates over your data connection. To ensure you’re only getting automatic updates when you’re connected to Wi-Fi, iPhone users can turn off ‘Wi-Fi assist’ in Settings, while Android users should select ‘Update Apps automatically only through Wi-Fi’ in their Settings.
You can also download data-conserving browsers such as Opera Mini, which will load pared-down versions of websites to limit the amount of data used. Chrome users should also check out Chrome Data Saver.
Of course, a lot of apps will run in the background, using up your data without you even realising it. To stop this betrayal from going on any longer, iPhone users should go to Settings>General and turn ‘Background App Refresh’ off. Alternatively, you can turn off individual apps’ ability to update in the background in the same menu.
Android adherents should go to Settings>Data Usage and scroll down to see a list of apps using data. Tapping on individual apps will give you the ability to ‘Restrict app background data’ for particular apps.
We’ll be updating this list with more invaluable tips in the coming days, so stay tuned.