So, you’ve gotten your hands on Pokémon GO, what it set to be not only the latest smartphone craze, but also the latest chapter in the unstoppable, unflappable phenomenon that is Pokémon.
You’ve played Pokémon games before, this is familiar territory, you should have no problems right? Wrong! This is very different from what you’re used to, and it’s going to take some adjustment for the average fan. If you’re totally new to the concept of catching Pokémon and/or have been living under a rock for the past 20 years; forget what you might have heard, and read on! With that, here are my Top 11 Pokémon Go tips!
Why top 11? Because everyone else does 10!
1. Visit as many Poké-Stops as possible
See those blue markers on your display? Those are Poké-Stops. When you get close enough to one, tap it on the screen and swipe to claim some free Pokéballs! As a result, I’ve as yet not run out of them whilst trying to catch something. Good if you want to avoid the micro-transactions, and gets you walking further
2. Look for Gyms
You won’t be able to access a gym until you are at least trainer level 5, but knowing where they are can be a good help. They can be at shopping centres, local landmarks, and even pubs! Keep an eye for the larger markers on your map
3. Check different areas
Different Pokémon can be found in different places. Water Pokemon can be found, unsurprisingly, near a body of water. Pokémon like Pidgey, Spearow and Rattata are often in urban areas and bug Pokémon are often in wooded areas. To catch ’em all, you’ve got to go off the beaten path. I was pretty surprised to find Venomoth- a poison type Pokémon- outside my local swimming pool. Perhaps this game knows the local area as well as I do! Landmarks and secluded areas may have rarer Pokémon, but this is unconfirmed. It’s also unknown whether the Pokemon available to catch will vary with the time of year (this seems the logical step once they expand the Pokedex).
4. Catch “doublers”
Situation. You’ve caught a Pidgey half an hour ago, and another one has popped up on the screen. You sigh. You wonder if you’re ever going to find anything else today. Hold up there! Don’t let it get away! By catching more of the same Pokémon, you have the option to “transfer” them to the in-game professor, Prof. Willow. By doing this, you earn extra “candy” which is specific to a Pokemon and its evolutionary line. By saving up Pokemon candy and stardust (you get both from every successful encounter), you can improve your captured Pokemon stats and even evolve them! All the costs are different depending on the Pokemon.
5. Enjoy the walk
Pokémon Go works via GPS, and your phone won’t automatically go into standby while it’s running, just like it wouldn’t if you were using sat-nav. Having said that, take the opportunity to enjoy your surroundings. You may find a little more appreciation within yourself for your own local area, and think of places differently as you notice things you may not have before- but watch that battery power!
6. Use it as a fitness aid
If like me, running makes you feel in equal turns nauseated and a general goof, don’t underestimate how good simple walking is for you. Set yourself a challenge such as: catch at least 5 Pokémon on your walk -however long that takes- before you turn around and go home. Discovering at least ten Poké-Markers is another good idea. Both of these can be kept track of using the Journal feature- which logs what you’ve done since you signed in.
7. Avoid the micro-transactions
I did have a look in the shop out of curiosity. Everything is purchased using the premium currency, which of course is bought for real money. The increments at which coins can be bought is staggered against the price of what you can actually buy, so although 550 poke coins costs £3.99 in cash, 100 pokeballs costs 460 of these coins. The cheapest thing you can buy is a single lucky egg (extra XP for 30 Mins) or incense (more encounters for 30 mins) at 80 coins apiece. So you could buy a combination of those I suppose, spend 540, and have ten coins left over for that one off price. Anything else, and you’d need to add more coins. Pokeballs can be obtained 3 or 4 at a time for every poke-stop you visit. So spending money on them is wholly avoidable. As for the other items, it remains to be seen which ones (if any) can be obtained in-game without money. Personally, I think that artificially increasing encounters would take something away from the exploration factor of the game, but maybe that’s just me.
8. Pace yourself
As it stands, only the first 151 Pokemon (well, arguably 149 minus Mew and Mewtwo) from the Kanto region are available to catch in Pokémon Go. This of course will likely expand as the game periodically updates, and gains traction. With that in mind, don’t go boosting off trying to snag every single one in the Pokédex right away or you’ll have very little to do until that time. We understand there are completionists out there who would feel compelled to do this, but overall, I would say that GO is best taken at a stroll rather than a sprint.
9. Always be aware of your surroundings
Playing this game involves use of augmented reality using your phone’s camera and GPS settings. However, this is not true reality. Please be aware that what’s on the screen may not exactly reflect what’s in front of you. Be sure look up from your screen frequently to watch out for traffic, other pedestrians who probably aren’t playing, lampposts, precipices etc. It also goes without saying that having your phone in hand whilst out walking can make you a target for theft and mugging, as you may not be paying as much attention as you would usually to what’s going on around you. If a rare Pokémon appears down a dimly lit alley, in an area you aren’t sure of, employ your common sense and remind yourself what, or who else could be waiting down there for you in the real world.
10. Forgive the early bugs
Remember that the current state of the game is still an active beta, and the developers are still working out any hardware, software and logistical kinks. The experience may not be at its best until a few weeks after the full experience is live. Have patience, because it’ll be worth it. This is, after all, what many Pokémon fans, new and old, have been waiting for as long as we can remember.
Finally, and I can’t emphasise this enough:
11. This is not the same as the main franchise games
If you enter into this game expecting it to be as involved and detailed as the handheld Pokémon games on the DS and 3DS, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Pokemon are not weakened before capture. Pokemon training is simply the spending of accumulated points. There is no facility for trading or PvP play (yet). The only battling takes place at the Gyms. There’s no telling when the Pokédex will be expanded. Will Pokémon Go replace the handheld games? Absolutely not, based upon these shortcomings alone. But that’s not what it was designed to do, and it was never the aim; it’s more of an appendix to the Pokémon experience, and- let’s face it- a massive money spinner for Nintendo. Neither of those facts mean that it’s any less enjoyable to play, and any less of a great excuse to get out in the fresh air and very limited British sunshine.
Go forth, and good hunting!
What’s your favourite Pokémon? Tell us in the comments!
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