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This article was published on July 20, 2016

The slowpoke’s guide to playing Pokémon Go

The slowpoke’s guide to playing Pokémon Go
Cecil Kleine
Story by

Cecil Kleine

Product Lead

Cecil is the Product Lead at The Next Web. He grew up on a tiny, sunny island called Curaçao and loves to keep up with the latest in tech, s Cecil is the Product Lead at The Next Web. He grew up on a tiny, sunny island called Curaçao and loves to keep up with the latest in tech, startups and design. Feel free to say hi on Twitter: @CecilKleine

So here at TNW we’re now forced to play Pokémon Go every day, for ‘health’ reasons. If you ask me, it’s merely an excuse for Boris to go out catching Pokémon instead of working. Some coworkers had a bit of trouble getting on board, so I decided to do a quick write-up for others out there who may not yet be Pokémon Masters.

Getting started

Assuming you’re familiar with the original Nintendo Gameboy series, you’ll find Pokémon Go offers a very different kind of experience. You’re still navigating the world around you from a top down perspective, but how you progress in the game will not feel very familiar to you.

To get started you’ll need to download the free app on iOS or Android, create your account and customize your avatar. After that you’re basically thrown into the game with some vague instructions from ‘Professor Willow’ before choosing your starter Pokémon. True to the original, you pick between Squirtle, Bulbasaur and Charmander. If you’d rather have a famous Pikachu, simply ignore the original starters at least three times, to have Pikachu appear instead.

What’s great about Pokémon Go, is that it doesn’t hold your hand. There’s a lot it wants you to just figure out on your own and learn by trial and error. It helps encourage curiosity and experimenting, but everybody is already at level 20 and it’s time to catch up. What follows are some quick tips and tricks to get you off on the right foot. The rest, you’ll have to find out on your own…

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What’s good to know?

  • Pokémon Go has been released with the original 151 Pokémon, but a few special ones are missing
  • A Pokémon’s strength is measured through its CP (Combat Power), the higher the CP, the stronger the Pokémon
  • Which Pokémon appear is determined by your location in one way or another
  • Pokémon can evolve. You’ll need a number of their respective ‘candies’ to trigger the evolution. This increases their CP a lot
  • You can pick a team at level 5, choosing between Instinct, Valor and Mystic. Mystic is currently the biggest team
  • You earn XP by catching Pokémon, evolving them and activating ‘Pokéstops’ for items. Leveling up gives you access to cool new stuff
  • Walking outside greatly increases your chance of finding Pokémon as you cover more ground, faster
  • You can find eggs in-game that hatch Pokémon after covering a certain distance using Incubators

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Finding, luring and catching Pokemon

So how do you catch a Pokémon anyway? You walk around, encounter a wild Pokémon on the map and tap on it. This will bring you to the AR (Augmented Reality) view, using your camera, where you can swipe up to throw a Pokéball and hopefully catch whatever’s in your sights. We recommend turning the AR view off, to prevent your smartphone’s battery from draining too fast. It also makes throwing Pokéballs a bit easier as the view becomes centered and is not affected by how you’re holding your device.

In order to catch ’em all, you gotta find em all first. This is where Pokémon Go gets fun/infuriating. Finding Pokémon, at least in our experience… happens almost at random. The ‘Nearby’ tracker doesn’t seem to be working as it should anymore, with every nearby Pokémon showing 3 paw prints. Making it very difficult to effectively track down specific Pokémon you know are nearby. We’d recommend not paying too much attention to it for the time being. In the mean time, see how Pokémon Go players have been experimenting with tracking methods.

Stuck in one stop for some time? You can use Incense and Lures to let all the Pokémon come over to you instead. You receive your first Incense around the first 5 levels, with Lures becoming accessible around level 10. Both items are active for 30 minutes, resulting in Pokémon becoming attracted and popping up more frequently at your location. The difference being that Lures are beneficial to any other Pokémon Go players in the surrounding area. Sharing is caring.

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Map, Pokéstops and Gyms

The official Pokémon Go website doesn’t say much about how to play the game, but it does mention ‘habitats’. These are meant to be glowing areas on the map, which should indicate a higher chance of encountering Pokémon. The site also suggests checking out different types of places, like big open fields, urban areas and places near large bodies of water. This should help you find different types of Pokémon easier. In my case, I’ve managed to find over 200 Water-type Pokémon near my home in Amsterdam, and a grand total of zero Fire Pokémon.

I’ve found that doing a nice walk around the block and hitting a lot of Pokéstops will yield a lot of XP, help you hatch those eggs faster and level up quicker. Not only will you be more likely to discover Pokémon to catch, but you can mapping out which types of Pokémon can be found where. For example: I’m more likely to find Psychic Pokémon if I head towards the East, and more likely to find Water Pokémon on my way to work (West). How deep you go is up to you, but doing this kind of exploration is all part of the fun.

Lastly, here’s what you need to know about Pokémon Gyms.

These are the big flashy colorful totems you’ll find scattered across the map. You can only access them after you reach level 5 and pick a team, at which point you can place your Pokémon in a gym to ‘hold’ it in exchange for XP and items. You can fight opposing teams for control of the Gym by fighting your. The battle system is a bit clunky and you’ll need a try or two to get the hang of it, but you basically tap or hold to attack and swipe to dodge. If you manage to win a battle, you’ll lower the Prestige Points for the Gym. Once you deplete all of the Prestige Points, the Gym is up for grabs again. Be wary though! Once a Gym is neutral, anybody can grab it for their team (before you do) in a practice known as Gym Sniping.

That’s it for now. Have any other cool tips and tricks to help out a fellow Slowpoke? Leave a comment below!

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