Beginner’s Guide: How to Play Pokémon GO

BY Khamosh Pathak

Published 15 Jul 2016

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Pokémon Go is literally taking over the world. Twitter, Facebook, the news, the real world around you – it’s everywhere. But you might be wondering what the fuss (and the game) is all about. We’re here to help you out. Below you’ll find answers to all your questions, written by someone who doesn’t have a two-decade long emotional attachment with the franchise and who only started playing Pokémon Go this week (my first Pokémon game).

So read on for straight to it, deep references and name drop free, beginners guide to Pokémon Go.

What Is Pokémon Go?

Pokémon Go is an iOS and Android game based on the uber popular game and TV show series from 90s. Go stays true to the Pokémon origins. You catch Pokemons, upgrade them, battle others in the gym and more.

On in Pokémon Go, you do it in the real world. Well, not in the real real world. The “real” world that’s inside your phone.

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Pokémon Go uses your phone’s GPS to track your location. And you get a map of your city when you start playing the game. To find the Pokemons, you’ll need to physically travel around to discover and catch them. Points of interest around your city will be visible as PokéStops (more on that later) and Gyms where you can battle other players.

Why Is Everyone Playing It

Because it’s Pokémon! And because Go is actually a really good game. They game mechanics are fresh, true to Pokémon heritage, and it’s simple. And it’s fun.

Catching Pokémon requires you to actually fling a Poké Ball. And the game will use your phone’s camera and the Pokémon will show up superimposed over whatever it is that you’re seeing. That’s the AR part of the game that everyone’s talking about. You can turn the AR mode off if you want.

Can You Play It

Officially, as of writing, Pokémon Go is only available in US, Europe (including the UK), Australia, New Zealand. Italy, Spain, and Portugal. But that doesn’t mean you can’t play it almost anywhere around the world.

I’m currently in a smallish town in the western part of India and it works. All you have to do is download Pokémon Go using a US iTunes account. We have a guide on how to do that here. There are sources that claim to help you install Pokémon Go directly from a third party source. But we would advise you to stay away from them.

Getting Started

Once you’ve installed the app and logged in using a Google or Pokémon account (the Google account is now totally safe to use), you’ll need to configure your avatar. ß

Once you’ve done that, you’ll see three Pokemons on the map – Bulbasaur, Charmander, or Squirtle. But if you physically walk away four times, a fourth option, Pikachu will appear. Tap one one and the other will disappear.

After that, as long as you’re connected to the internet. You’ll see a bright, blue and green version of an abstracted Google Map on the screen. And your avatar will show where you are.

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You’ll now see that the camera is enabled and the Pokémon is floating around on the screen. A Poké Ball will be at the bottom of the screen. Tap and hold the Poké Ball till the circle around the Pokémon gets to the smallest position. At this point, fling the Poké Ball towards the Pokémon, targeting its center. This will capture it. After the animation, tap the Poké Ball and you’ll see details of the Pokémon and it will be added to your Pokédex.

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After that, as long as you’re connected to the internet. You’ll see a bright, blue and green version of an abstracted Google Map on the screen. And your avatar will show where you are.

Catching a Pokémon

Time to catch your first Pokémon! Well, start walking.

As you walk, a Pokémon might appear around where you are. If it’s a bit too far you can’t tap it to catch it. In that case, you’ll need to go nearer. They try tapping the screen and it should show up on the screen in AR mode, ready to be captured.

If you’re not seeing anything, keep tapping on the screen and notice the leaves ruffle. Go there, Pokemons might be hiding there.

Go To A PokéStop

PokéStops in the game are points of interest around your city. PokéStops will show up as blue floating cubes. Go near one, see it turn into spinning discs and tap it. You’ll see information about the place.

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Swipe the circle and it will spin. And you’ll get some awesome stuff in returns. Poké Balls, Poké Eggs, healing potions and a lot more. You can only visit a PokéStop and get the rewards once every 10 minutes.

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Items in Pokémon Go

Of course, Pokémon Go has things you can virtually collect. If you don’t want to work for it, you can pay real money, in the form of PokéCoins.

  • Lucky Eggs: Gives you double the XP for the next 30 minutes.
  • Lure Patches: Draws Pokémon to PokéStop.
  • Razz Berries: Make it easier to catch rare Pokemons.
  • Poké Eggs: These are eggs that can hatch into real Pokémon.

Evolving Pokemons

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You can level up Pokemons using Candy and Stardust. And to do that, you need to catch more versions of the same Pokémon. So don’t think that because you have one Doduo, you don’t need another one.

Once you have enough Pokemons from one species, you’ll be able to use the candies to evolve them.

Battling At Gyms

Once you hit level 5 you’ll be able to join one three gyms: Instinct (Yellow), Mystic (Blue), or Valor (Red). The kind of team you pick doesn’t change the Pokemons you’ll find. But it doesn’t affect who you’ll be playing with and against in fights. Choosing a gym turns Pokémon Go into a team sport.

Along with your team, you can fight for a gym and take it over.

Just like PokéStops, gyms are also landmarks. And they’re the only place you can have battles. So chances are you’ll actually be looking at the person you’re battling in Pokémon Go. Isn’t that cool?

Entering the gym changes the game a bit. You can tap the screen to attack, tap and hold lets you start a special attack and swiping left or right dodges the opponent’s attack.

Go Catch Em All

That’ it. You’ve got the basics covered. Now go out there and catch ‘em all!