Finally, a reason to bear the Florida heat and go exploring — Pokémon Go has arrived. Childhood nostalgia has hit a new peak, and we’re not sure how we ever lived without wandering around town catching Pokémon. If you haven’t played (for some odd reason) yet, or if you’re not entirely sure what to do, here’s a quick guide to get you started with everything you need to know.
Pokémon Go blends Google Maps with the beloved card game and television show. The quest to catch ’em all begins by customizing a character and picking a starter Pokémon, including Bulbasaur, Squirtle or Charmander — just like the old days.
Finding wild Pokémon is as simple as walking around. The bottom of the screen has a bar that shows players what Pokémon are nearby and how far away they are. The bar won’t indicate a direction, thus encouraging you to explore. As you travel the game’s Google Maps-esque interface, look for ruffling leaves to find wild Pokémon.
As opposed to previous games, a battle isn’t required for capture. Instead, players will notice a ring surrounding the wild Pokémon. The ring’s color indicates its difficulty to capture, with green being is easiest, yellow more difficult and red being the hardest. The ring will also repeatedly shift from large to small. To capture the Pokémon, swipe the Pokéball on-screen towards the Pokémon when the ring is at its smallest.
After catching a Pokémon, you’ll receive candy specific to the Pokémon in addition to experience points (XP). Candy is currently the only way to evolve Pokémon. So, for example, every time you catch a Pidgey, you’ll receive three “Pidgey Candy.” Use 12 of these candies to evolve one of the Pidgeys.
Additionally, you can transfer Pokémon to Professor Willow (this game’s version of Professor Oak who is stylish AF) for one candy. This is especially useful to prevent acquiring an army of Pidgeys or Rattatas.
In addition to wild Pokémon, players will notice blue markers on the map indicating a Pokéstop. Get within range of these locations and you’ll be able to access their supplies. The stops are often businesses or local landmarks and will contain a picture and description of the location.
Swipe to spin the stop’s picture when in range to receive items such as Pokéballs, potions and revives. Pokéstops can be revisited, but there is a cool down period of about five minutes, so you can’t loiter and stock-up.
The goal in Go isn’t to increase the level of individual Pokémon, but rather the player. Different events, such as capturing Pokémon and visiting Pokéstops, will give the player XP to hit the next level. A meter in the bottom-left portion of the main screen tracks level progress. At level 5, the player can visit gyms and join a team.
Upon your first gym visit, you’ll be asked to join a team — Instinct (yellow), Mystic (blue) or Valor (red). Despite different team descriptions, the only reason to join one or the other is for multiplayer purposes. If you’re looking to join a team of friends, coordinate to be on the same team. If you’re looking to kick a friend’s ass, pick a different team.
Teams come into play at gyms. For example, if you’re on a team and come across a gym owned by a teammate, you can train there. If an opposing team owns the gym, you can battle them for team control of the gym.
According to posts in the Facebook group 904 Pokémon Go, users have found team red and yellow dominate the Beaches, blue owns Arlington and yellow is the most common in Riverside.
On the map, you’ll notice a limited number of massive structures. These things are gyms. Once you reach level five and choose a team, you’ll be able to train and battle at gyms. Gyms are controlled when the member of a team leaves a Pokémon at the location. Choose wisely, as you won’t get this Pokémon back until the gym is defeated.
If your team controls a gym, you can battle the Pokémon stationed there. While you’ll still take damage, the losing Pokémon will not faint. This is a great way to gain XP. Multiple team members can leave Pokémon at a gym to defend it, making the gym even more difficult for opposing teams to conquer.
If an opposing team controls a gym, you’ll have to battle to take control. The battle system is much more simplistic than previous games and relies on a Pokémon’s combat power (CP) rating — the higher the better. Only after all defending Pokémon are beat and the gym’s prestige reaches zero will it change control.
Catch ’Em All
While this only covers the basics of the game, it should be sufficient in getting your quest started. The game is in its infancy, meaning new features and gameplay adjustments are certain to be made … oh, and expect plenty of server crashes. And yes, your battery is also doomed.
If you have any questions or information, the newly formed 904 Pokémon Go group and countless subreddits have appeared for resources and meet-up opportunities.