Before you snark, yes, people still play this. Lots of us. If you’ve somehow missed the craze, Pokemon Go is a mobile game that will let you find Pokemon hiding in the real world. When one pops up, toss a Pokeball at it to try and catch it. The better you throw, the better the chance it won’t bust out. Need more balls? Pokestops are just about everywhere at landmarks, unique shops, churches and other cool places. You might even learn a bit about your town in the process!
Here’s an explanation of a few of the mechanics:
These are extra-large pokestops that give you the chance to do battle with other Pokemon. That team you picked at the start of the game? (Red = Valor, Blue = Mystic, Yellow = Instinct. Don’t pick Instinct. Trust me.) You can only battle Pokemon of the opposing team.
Yes, this game continues the rock-paper-scissors-lizard-Spock mechanics of the core Pokemon games, with attacks of certain types (say, water) being more effective or less effective against Pokemon of other types (in this case, fire and grass respectively). Here’s a Pokemon type chart
, but if that makes your head spin, don’t worry – the game will suggest to you which of your Pokemon are best at beating up the Pokemon are currently in the gym.
Earning coins at gyms.
Even if you don’t want to battle, you’ll still want to place Pokemon in gyms held by your team if there’s space. (Gyms can hold a maximum of six Pokemon.) The longer your Pokemon stays in the gym, the more coins you’ll earn when they’re knocked out! But keep in mind you’re capped at earning 50 coins per day, and that’s regardless of how many gyms you’re in. And Pokemon will gradually grow weaker unless they’re fed berries. This is much, MUCH less annoying than the old gym system, which allowed power players and spoofers to dominate. You can also buy coins for items at the shop with real-world money. This is a mobile game, after all.
Raids and legendaries.
Sometimes, eggs will appear in gyms. After a time they’ll hatch and reveal a ginormous version of a Pokemon roughly 10 times as powerful as normal. Raids are how you take them down, try to catch them and earn special rewards like TMs that grant new moves and rare candy that can be used for any Pokemon. Additionally, Raids are the only way to catch Legendary Pokemon and a few others like Mawile and Absol.
Each raid is rated at one to five stars. You can probably do a one or two star raid by yourself, but for higher ones, you’ll need friends. How do you find them? Check Facebook, Discord and Reddit for Pokemon groups in your area. Keep in mind you’re not guaranteed to catch a Legendary – you can only use a certain amount special balls awarded to you based on your performance and other factors. If you really want them, be prepared to raid several times. It’ll usually take 3-4 tries, though it took me 16 tries to get a Zapdos. I know, it’s kind of a bummer.
Legendaries rotate each month. The current legendary is Latias or Latios, depending on where you live. They'll swap places in May.
Don’t forget to revive and heal your Pokemon after raids and gym battles!
Moves and TMs
. Unlike the core games, your Go Pokemon will have two moves -- a fast move and a charged move. Your fast move will be done whenever you tap the screen, while the charged move button will light up when you fill up a meter via dealing/taking damage. And yes, both moves will change when the Pokemon evolves.
Don't like your Pokemon's moves? Use a TM item! These items will randomly select another move that's potentially available to your Pokemon (usually there's 2-4 available depending on Pokemon). The best way to get these items are through raids or, much less commonly, research. And yes, some moves are better than others.
Finding different types of Pokemon.
Different Pokemon will show up in different places, often times based on geography. Your town may mostly be considered a forest biome with abundant grass-types, but an area around a lake or river might have more water types, and hilly parts may be considered mountains. Traveling is a great way to encounter different types of Pokemon… especially since a few Pokemon are exclusive to a region. Here’s a list.
If you're lucky, you might stumble into a rare type of Pokemon that has slightly different colors than normal. Congrats, you found a shiny! ...though they're pretty much just for bragging rights, as they're not different from regular Pokemon in any way. They could even have terrible stats. Though if you somehow encounter a shiny legendary, you're guaranteed to catch it with your first ball!
The weather will also affect what types of Pokemon show up, plus these Pokemon could be stronger than normal when caught. A few Pokemon really only show up during certain types of weather, even if you’re in the right biome normally. Here’s a weather chart
. And yes, weather can be very inconsistent, so be prepared for the game to insist it’s raining when it’s sunny out.
Evolving and powering up with candy and stardust.
When you catch a Pokemon or hatch it from an egg, you’ll get a few candies and stardust. You can also get a candy from transferring a Pokemon to the professor (which is how you get rid of Pokemon you don’t want) or stardust from feeding Pokemon in gyms. To evolve a Pokemon, you just need candies – anywhere from 12 for a Pidgey to 400 for that bastard Magikarp. Powering up a Pokemon to increase its combat power (CP) requires both candy and stardust. If you’re just starting out, don’t bother powering up anything until you hit level 20 or so, as you’ll catch stronger Pokemon easily. And for god’s sake, don’t power up that Rattatta. Save stardust for Pokemon that can get really strong and dominate gyms.
Catching, hatching and battling Pokemon will give you experience. What does it do? At higher levels, you’ll catch more powerful Pokemon and have the ability to power up your Pokemon even further. That’s it! Oh, everyone will find the same Pokemon -- they just might be lower CP for you.
The buddy system.
Catch a Dratini, but can’t seem to find any more to get candies to evolve it? Make it your buddy, and it’ll show up by your side in your profile. The game keeps track of how far you walk, and you’ll get a candy after a certain distance. Here’s a list of how far you’ll need to walk for each Pokemon
. Oh, and don’t bother walking a legendary – they require 20 KM per candy! Use rare candy for them.
You’ll get these at Pokestops. Pop it in an incubator, and after you walk a certain distance you’ll hatch a somewhat random Pokemon. The more you have to walk an egg, the better the Pokemon you’ll get. Probably. Everyone’s experienced the pain of walking 10 KM and hatching a goddamn Sudowoodo. You’ll always have one incubator that can be used infinite times, but other incubators will break after a certain number of uses.
Research and mythicals.
Think of these as quests. You can pick them up at Pokestops, and they’ll ask you to catch a certain type of Pokemon, get a certain number of great throws, hatch an egg or the like. When you do it, you’ll get a reward or an encounter with a specific Pokemon. Doing one bit of research per day earns you a stamp, and when you do it seven times, you’ll get a bunch of items and an encounter with a legendary Pokemon! Even if you’ve gotten the stamp for the day, you can still research to your heart’s content. Here's a list so you can keep an eye out for the ones that grant Pokemon you're having trouble finding
Additionally, the strangely hot and rugged Professor Willow will give you research tasks of his own. Doing clusters of them will give you nice items, and doing them all will let you catch a mythical Pokemon like Mew. This is currently the only way to catch mythicals.
This way lies madness. IVs stand for individual values. While combat power shows you how powerful your Pokemon is at the moment, IVs indicate how powerful it has the potential to become. The only way in-game to get a hint at the IVs is to have it appraised by your team leader. The happier they are with it, the higher IVs it has.
If you want an exact IV count, you can turn to other sites and apps, but beware, Niantic isn’t fond of third-party apps that directly interface with the game and could ban you.
And yes, if you aren’t crazy feel free to ignore IVs. There’s really only a ten percent difference in CP between the lowest IV Pokemon and the highest.
Niantic sometimes switches things up with special events that can offer things like boosted XP, stardust or candies; different Pokemon to catch (including region exclusives) and the like. Assuming I remember to update it, here’s the current event:
Return of the water festival
, with water-types appearing more often and giving you triple stardust. 2KM eggs will hatch rare water-types with double candy and stardust. And Kyogre's back.
Once a month, a specific Pokemon that's generally hard to find and a candy hog will spawn all over the place for three hours. Additionally, if you evolve them to their final form during the event, you'll get an exclusive, powerful charged move. Yes, if you evolve a Pokemon you caught before the event, it'll get the move. No, if you catch a Pokemon during the event and wait until afterward to evolve it, it won't get the move. Next event is Larvitar, June 16.