The basics of Pokemon Go are simple and fun. You walk, you catch Pokemon, you collect as many as you can and you visit Poke Stops to load your backpack up with goodies to help your Trainer along the way.
But when it comes to mastering the game, there's a lot more you need to consider. Here are some top tips to help you become a Pokemon pro:
1. Hatch your eggs and use your incubators wisely
The eggs you collect at Poke Stops or get from gifts will help you get some Pokemon as well as gain XP and boost candies, once you've put them through an incubator and walked the required distance - 2km, 5km, 7km or 10km. Everyone starts with an infinite use incubator with an ∞ symbol on, but sometimes you'll be rewarded with 3x incubators, as well as being able to buy them in the shop. Use them wisely:
- Don't waste your 3x incubators, use them for 10km eggs
- Use your infinite incubator for those short 2km eggs
Using this technique, you'll get more efficient use of those incubators. Also watch out for special events where hatching distances are slashed.
2. Build your XP first, then power-up Pokemon
The skill of your Trainer is dictated by the XP you have. You move through the levels of XP, needing more XP each time to level up. But as you do so, the rewards get higher and you'll evolve and hatch Pokemon at a higher level, as well as being able to power-up to higher levels.
Powering-up your Pokemon when your XP is low means it costs you more candies to do so. So it's better to save your power-ups of Pokemon until you've reached a higher XP level - like over level 20.
To help build XP quickly, try some of these things:
- Use a Lucky Egg when you're actively playing
- Evolve base Pokemon with excess candies - like Pidgey or Rattata
- Catch everything
- Battle with friends to get XP from taking over Gyms
3. Build an army, manage your bag
There are two areas of the game that register the Pokemon you catch:
- Bag: these are the Pokemon you actually have available to you.
- Pokedex: this shows all the Pokemon you've caught, those you've seen and details the evolution paths.
There's no need to carry every type of Pokemon as a growing collection in your bag - that's what the Pokedex is for.
It's better to keep only the Pokemon you need: that's an army to fight with in Gym and Raid battles. You'll need high power versions of Pokemon, but it's better to have a number of powerful Blissey than one Blissey and a Caterpie, Metapod, Kakuna and so on, because those Pokemon - once registered and evolved - won't really do much for you. So, learn your Pokemon's skills and build an army of those who fight well, like Gengar, Blissey, Vaporeon.
You'll also need to carry those you still need to evolve and hang on to those who need a special item to evolve, like Onix if you've not yet got Steelix.
Also keep your eye out for special edition characters - like the seasonal Pikachu. These evolve into special Raichu, so it's worth having and holding these, just so you can put them in Gyms for others to be jealous of.
4. Transfer Pokemon for candies
There's an option to Transfer Pokemon to the professor, in return for Candy for that Pokemon variety. Having captured a Pokemon and got the Stardust and Candy they bring, you can then transfer out Pokemon you don't need.
If, for example, you already have 20 Rattata, you can probably swap some for candies to power up those who will actually battle for you as Raticate. As we said above, you can only carry a finite number of Pokemon and you want them all to be powerful, so get rid of those weaker specimens.
5. Check the evolution path
The Pokedex shows how Pokemon evolve and it's worth checking out what a Pokemon can evolve into before you drop Candy on it to power it up or evolve lesser forms. For example, if you have lots of Pidgy, and a few Pidgeotto, you probably don't want to spend Candy evolving Pidgy into more Pidgeotto: you want to save them until you can evolve Pidgeotto into Pidgeot, because it needs more candy.
Making more mid-tier Pokemon is less useful than getting the rarer evolved form who will often be more useful in battle.
Also double-check the evolution path. Many Pokemon have another evolved form that opens up with a Sinnoh region. You'll need a Sinnoh Stone to evolve them, meaning some Pokemon you thought were finished can now do something else.
6. Use your Lucky Eggs wisely
Sometimes you'll collect a Lucky Egg or get one when you update. This will double your XP earned for 30 minutes. Don't just randomly drop it, however, try to use it for maximum gain to help level up your Trainer. That might be when you arrive in a new, busy, place and you know you're going to be catching or hatching Pokemon, or where there's lots of Gyms for you to battle - and win.
So, save those Lucky Eggs for those epic town centre Pokemon Go sessions to get the most XP in return.
7. Turn off AR mode
Sure, the AR mode is fun because it brings it to real life, but it uses battery and it makes the game more difficult - it also doesn't work on some lower-power phones.
Switch it off and play in the game world and you'll find it's easier to catch Pokemon because the environment is always the same. It will save you battery life too.
8. Master the Poke Stop
When you visit a Poke Stop and spin the sign, you don't have to tap all the things released. Just hit the X at the bottom to close the Stop and you'll automatically claim your rewards.
Remember that if you're near a PokeStop having lunch or coffee, you can visit that Stop again and again - it just takes a few minutes to become available again.
9. Get in Gyms
Gyms are where the real glory lies, as they are the route to Coins. Gyms are really what Pokemon Go is about. You battle, win and take over a Gym for your team. You'll want to leave behind a powerful Pokemon to defend that Gym, as the longer they sit in place and defend it, the more Coins you earn. The more Coins you earn, the more stuff you can buy.
You'll take over Gym for your team and other team members can defend that Gym with you. Some Pokemon like Blissey are hard to knock out. If you want to keep it, Blissey it, but remember that in high turnover Gyms (like in town centres) your Pokemon will soon be knocked out, so there's little point in using your most powerful.
Also consider that Pokemon that sit in Gyms but don't defend it, don't earn many coins - so that remote Gym isn't going to earn as much money as you might think.
10. Only fight Raid Battles you can win
This might sound like a cowardly approach, but there's little point in pitching your 86CP Squirtle against a 50000CP Kyogre. If you don't have enough powerful Pokemon of your own or a team of friends to battle with, then you'll lose and just have to revive your Pokemon and treat them with Potions.
So, check the power of the Pokemon in the Raid Battle before you start.
When battling Gyms you can wear down your opponents gradually, so you can take on opponents that are more powerful - you'll still lose, but you might make some progress.
11. Choose a rare type buddy
Some Pokemon don't appear very often. Because you won't see these very often, making them your buddy means you can earn those types of candies gradually as you walk. With time, you'll find you have enough to evolve that Pokemon.
Probably best not to do that with Magikarp, because you need 400 candies to evolve it and you'll get bored before anything happens. It's worth noting, however that different Pokemon will need you to walk different distances.
12. Use your Golden Razz Berry or Silver Pinap Berry with purpose
The Golden Razz Berry and Silver Pinap Berry are basically the ultimate berry. They're really good for helping catch important Pokemon that just don't want to be caught. If you've been after sometime for ages and nothing is working, the Golden Razz Berry will probably make it happen. The Silver Pinap Berry will give you extra candies too when you catch that Pokemon.
However, you can also feed the Golden Razz Berry to Pokemon you have in a Gym. When your Pokemon is feeling miserable and needs some attention - basically to keep it in top fighting form - then the Golden Razz Berry takes it right back to the top. If you want to hang onto that Gym, this really helps.
13. Learn your Pokemon types and battle advantages
If you're struggling to beat a Pokemon and you can't figure out why, it's probably because of type advantage. This is basically the underlying principle of the whole Pokemon battling world. This is replicated in Pokemon Go, with weather factors also boosting some types over others. There's also the issue of particular fighting moves that your Pokemon might have.
There are a range of charts available online that you can refer to for the nitty gritty, but here are some basic details of which types are strong against which other types. In the list below, the first named type inflicts increased damage on the second:
- Bug > Dark, Grass, Psychic
- Dark > Ghost, Psychic
- Electric > Flying, Water
- Fairy > Dark, Dragon, Fighting
- Fire > Bug, Grass, Ice, Steel
- Fighting > Normal, Rock, Steel, Ice Dark
- Flying > Fighting, Bug, Grass
- Ghost > Psychic
- Grass > Ground, Rock, Water
- Ground > Poison, Rock, Steel, Fire, Electric
- Ice > Dragon, Grass, Ground, Flying
- Poison > Grass, Fairy
- Psychic > Fighting, Poison
- Rock > Flying, Bug, Fire, Ice
- Steel > Fairy, Ice, Rock
- Water > Fire, Ground, Rock
14. Restart the app
Pokemon Go has never been the most stable app, all the way from early server problems through to general unresponsiveness. You'll often get a spinning icon in the top left to show that it's talking to the server - and sometimes it will just get stuck there. Or, commonly, you'll see no Poke Stops and no nearby Pokemon.
If there's nothing happening, try tapping the Pokeball to open the menu. If it's not responding, stop, restart, open the app and keep going. Otherwise you're wasting battery and time waiting for it to start working again.
15. Travel far and wide, go crazy for special events
This might not be possible for some, but going to as many places as possible will help you gather more types of Pokemon. Your home town is likely to be dominated by a certain variety, so make sure you go to new places to find more.
That might mean getting off the bus early and walking, or taking the weekend to head to a different area. Perhaps visit the family or distant friends, then say you want to see all the local sights so you can gather Pokemon, find Gyms to take over and so on.
Special events are now fairly frequent and introduce some less common Pokemon or previously unseen Pokemon - including some of the region specific characters you might not have seen. Make sure you look at the news section of the Pokemon Go app to see what's happening.
16. Master battery saving mode
Pokemon Go is a battery killer on all phones. Battery saving mode in Pokemon Go will let the screen shut off when the phone is upside down, meaning you're not spending all that battery life on illuminating the screen when you don't need to. You'll need a phone with an accelerometer in it to work - which may exclude some entry-level Android phones.
Once it's on, you can often put the phone in your pocket upside down, the screen will turn off, but it will still be live, tracking your distance to hatch eggs and vibrating to alert you to Pokemon.
17. Master the Field research and Special research
Research is a new part of Pokemon Go, setting you a range of new tasks to complete to give the game more variety. It's also the route to some of the rarer Pokemon, often appearing through special events. The Field research is ongoing, letting you complete tasks you get from Poke Stops - like collect 5 Pokemon with a weather boost. Here are some top tips:
- Delete field research that's hard, like throw 5 great throws in a row - if you can't do it, delete and get another task
- Don't claim your rewards all on the same day, just one a day
- Don't claim your final reward unless you know there's a new Pokemon type available to catch
18. Use Adventure Sync
A recent addition to Pokemon Go, it can now be synced with the step counter on your phone, so that you don't need the app open all the time. Turn on the Adventure Sync function in the settings menu and that will do the counting when you're just walking, meaning you can hatch those eggs more easily. Even if you're not playing, you get the advantage of all the walking you're doing.
19. Favourite Pokemon to find those you need to evolve
With more and more regions opening up in Pokemon Go, it can be hard to keep track of those Pokemon that can still evolve. Use the favourite functions to put a star on them so you can see, at a glance, those Pokemon that you're still trying to evolve. That will make it really easy to select one off the list to make your new buddy.