Our Pokémon GO tips and tricks guide is here to help beginners get started on their mission to catching 'em all. More advanced players can check out our Pokémon GO tips and tricks for seasoned gamers.
"Hello there! Welcome to the world of Pokémon GO! My name is Toddy! People call me the Pokémon GO Prof! OK, nobody calls me that, but I digress.
"This world is inhabited by creatures called Pokémon! For some people, Pokémon are pets. Others use them for battling. Myself... I search for the best tips and tricks to help you on your quest to becoming a Pokémon master".
We’ve written these tips and tricks assuming you already have some of the basics of gameplay and terminology down, but if you’re yet to set out on your very own Pokémon adventure and you aren’t lucky enough to be in one of the game’s launch markets (Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and finally, the UK) our ‘how-to download Pokémon GO’ feature might be a good place to start.
Get Pikachu as your starter Pokémon
Niantic knows how to get the nostalgia juices flowing, not only opting to launch GO with the original roster of 151 Pokémon, but also presenting players with the same choice of three starter Pokémon as in the original 90s Game Boy games: Bulbasaur, Charmander and Squirtle. There is, however, one very important starter missing from this lineup, the most iconic Pokémon of all time - Pikachu.
Thankfully, despite the appearance of only three starters in front of you to begin with, you can actually summon a Pikachu with a little trick. Rather than tapping on the three standard beasties, just walk away. Walking far enough away will cause the game to reset the position of these starters, placing them back around you. If you cause a reset four to five times, Pikachu will eventually join the lineup.
Then it's simply a case of tapping on the little yellow electric mouse and lobbing Pokéballs at him. Enjoy.
Catch ‘em all (yes, everything)
Unless you have a lifestyle that packs in plenty of travel you’ll likely encounter a lot of the same kinds of Pokémon when you're out and about, but don’t fret, that’s actually a good thing and in fact an essential part of how to progress as a trainer. When you catch a Pokémon you’ll notice that it comes with a few extra goodies, namely in the form of something called ‘Stardust’ and candy specific to that breed of Pokémon.
If you want to strengthen your Pokémon up quickly, or indeed evolve them, catching a lot of the same Pokémon breed is the only (free) sure-fire way to guarantee that you have the necessary supplies to toughen up your Pokémon for those all-important gym battles. Catching every Pokémon you encounter will also help speed through those first five experience levels too.
Want to see a complete list of all of the wild Pokémon you'll be hunting, and how they evolve? Check out our complete Pokémon GO Pokédex.
Not all Pokéstops are created equal
Niantic Labs - the team behind Pokémon GO had a previous title called Ingress, that centred around location-based gameplay in much the same way. You may have noticed that Pokéstops appear on real-world landmarks, significant locations and other important points of interest, but visiting some can be more beneficial than others, just like the developer’s last game.
Whilst this isn’t an absolute guarantee, a rule of thumb is that the bigger and more well known the landmark is, the greater the loot you’ll receive when you visit it. Most run-of-the-mill Pokéstops will dole out two or three Pokéballs and, on occasion, the odd potion, but head to a more significant P.O.I and you’ll likely land more than three items or at least more useful/powerful items in a single visit.
Best places and times to find Pokémon
It’s not just the road layouts of the real world that marry up with the world of Pokémon GO, you’ll also notice that green land, such as parks or gardens, as well as waterways, rivers, and oceans are all also accounted for – these are all great places to find Pokémon if you’re struggling.
Keep an eye out for rustling leaves, hinting at where critters may be lurking and simply hang out in a suspected region for the increased chance of an encounter. Not all Pokémon stick to the same time frame either, many players have reported finding more psychic, fairy and ghost types in the evening or at night, so if you’re trying to bag the likes of a Clefairy or a Haunter, you might need to pull a late one in order to track them down.
As with rustling grass, hanging out near sources of water will also increase the chance of running into water-type Pokémon. Go figure.
What are the footprints in Pokémon GO?
When on the hunt for Pokémon you may have noticed the little footprint icons next to the various pocket monsters supposedly in your current vicinity. In the current build of the game at least, it’s never actually explained what those footprints mean, but we can confirm they refer to distance.
The fewer footsteps there are, the more likely you are to encountering a specific Pokémon. Think of it as the game’s way of telling you ‘hotter or colder'.
The whole hook of Pokémon GO is that it places Pokémon in the real world, our world – and it does so by way of augmented reality or AR. The game uses your phone’s camera and positioning hardware (gyroscope etc) to place a Pokémon in front of you as if it were really there, but depending on where they get placed, it can sometimes be hard to pin one down.
The capture mechanic, requires that you swipe up to throw a Pokéball at the Pokémon on-screen to capture it, but with some attempting to dodge your barrage, paired to unsteady camera work (and thus constant movement of the target as it’s tracked around), it sometimes makes more sense to leave out the AR element of GO for a moment.
To do this, simply swipe the AR toggle that appears in the top right of the screen whilst you’re in capture mode. It’ll place the Pokémon you’ve been trying to hit into a separate all-virtual environment with no moving backgrounds to track against or distract you, making them that little bit easier to hit.
How to save battery power when playing Pokémon GO
In case you hadn’t noticed, in order to get the full experience out of Pokémon GO, you have to have active internet and GPS connections at all times, as well as ensuring the screen stays on. Suffice to say, Pokémon GO can be a bit of a battery hog, so naturally, if there are ways to curb its consumption without harming your gameplay experience, you should put them into effect. No?
Thankfully, the developers have created at least one feature for this very purpose, but the benefits sort of depend on what phone you have. Switching battery saver on will turn the screen black when your phone is upside down (for clarification, face-down on a table won’t cut it. The screen won’t turn black unless the device is upside down, such as in a pocket).
By turning black, particularly on phones that use AMOLED displays (such as the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Vodafone Smart Platinum 7), Pokémon GO can keep running, without eating up as much juice from your device’s power-hungry display.
As Pokémon GO also uses Google's Maps for reference, downloading maps of the areas you usually play in for offline mode will save on data and thus battery life too.
Notifications and accessories for Pokémon GO
As an extension of the previous point, a key tool in finding Pokémon in your area is through the use of notifications. Pokémon GO has a built in notifications system, causing your phone to buzz/vibrate when a new pocket monster appears in your locale. However, the app has to be on for this to work, it can’t function in the background or when your device is locked.
Luckily there’s an alternative way of receiving these handy physical hints, even when your phone is locked, in the form of the $35/£35 Pokémon GO Plus wearable that appeared alongside the game at its initial unveiling; otherwise, battery saver will let you black out the screen, whilst the app can continue to run and vibrate, alerting you to the presence of new Pokémon nearby.
Read next: Everything you need to know about the Pokémon GO Plus, including compatibilty, UK price and release date.
Don't be lazy
Part of the fun of Pokémon GO is exploring the outside world, searching for new creatures in new places, but playing a game that requires that you walk around isn't going to be to everyone's tastes and some might consider looking for alternative means of traversing the globe. Whilst it's possible to spoof your phone's GPS location so you can jump from Tokyo to San Francisco within GO in a matter of seconds, we wouldn't recommend it.
Whilst you you will pop up in the desired destination within the game, it's smart enough to determine that something isn't right (likely trigged by having to place your Android phone into Developer Mode) and as such, Pokémon, Pokéstops and gyms simply won't appear.
More importantly, Niantic Labs have ways of detecting GPS spoofing and if Ingress (their previous game) is anything to go by, if you get caught trying to warp all over the place, your account could receive a permaban, and nobody wants that. You have been warned.
Think we’ve missed anything important or have a burning Pokémon GO question we’re yet to answer? Drop us a line in the comments section below.
To see our Pokemon GO tips and tricks in action, check out our video guide below.