Pokemon Go is arguably Nintendo’s biggest hit in years. The mobile game developed by Niantic has already made $14 million just one week after its release on the iOS and Android app stores. And with better active user numbers than Tinder, it’s clear the app isn’t likely to give up its stranglehold on top of the charts anytime soon.
But if you were late to the party, you may find yourself woefully behind some of your peers. The strength or power level of the Pokemon you can catch in-game is directly related to the level of your Pokemon “trainer.” In other words, those who have spent more time in the game will be able to collect more powerful creatures. Even now, just one week in, some players are finding it impossible to take down other players’ gym leaders because they’re simply too powerful.
If you’ve got some catching up to do when it comes to catching Pokemon, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve put together a comprehensive list of tips on everything from leveling quickly to gym battles and catching those elusive rares. Here are 25 tips for success in Pokemon Go.
Catch Em All. No, Seriously.
If you tend to play in the same general area a lot, like say, near your house or place of work, you will likely find a lot of the same Pokemon over and over. As boring as it might be to catch your 20th Zubat, all of that repetition will pay off eventually. Every time you catch a duplicate Pokemon, you can trade it into the Professor for a candy that is used to evolve a Pokemon of that type. Catching as many duplicates as possible is actually key to eventually making at least one of your Pokemon incredibly strong.
Turn Off the AR
Pokemon Go is an “augmented reality” game and seeing the little creatures pop up everywhere from your living room to the local bookstore can be pretty amusing. But when the AR is “on” so is your camera, and this can actually make catching the Pokemon a bit more difficult as you actually have to aim the phone at where it the Pokemon is within the “real world.” Turning the AR off will make catching Pokemon just a bit more efficient and it will likely save you some battery life as well.
The “Nearby” Menu Can Save You Time
That menu in the bottom right of your screen can save you a lot of time. It will show you at any given time what type of Pokemon are nearby and how close they are. There are different thoughts about this online, but in general, one “footprint” means the Pokemon is within 100 yards, two means within 200 yards and so on. If you’re debating whether you want to take an extra 5 minutes on your lunch break to go chase something down, take a glance first and see if a Pokemon is actually within easy walking distance or not. Pokemon that are grayed out are ones that you have not caught yet, and therefore, might be worth some extra effort.
Pokeballs are not an unlimited resource in this game. It’s possible to “miss” on a throw or to have a rare Pokemon escape and run away if you’re not careful. To increase the odds of a successful capture, hold your finger on the ball and wait. A circle will begin to pulse around the creature, gradually moving inward. You want to wait until the circle is at its narrowest point before letting the Pokeball fly. If you nail the opening, you’ll have a much better chance of success.
Throw Bonuses Add Up
In order to catch a Pokemon, you need to hit the creature somewhere around its head. But not all throws are created equal. The game will actually reward you with extra XP if you time the throw just right or shoot it with a nice arc or curve to it. If you want to get fancy, hold your finger down on the ball and then spin the ball with your thumb before letting it go. If one of these “curve balls” hits the Pokemon, you’ll get extra points. This is a great way to level up faster and make those boring duplicate captures a little more interesting.
Pokemon Love Razz Berries
As you level up, you’ll get access to better items that you can use to capture Pokemon, recover from battle, and more. One of the most useful items you’ll get around level 7 or 8 is the Razz Berry. Razz Berries are essentially Pokemon bait. It distracts them and prevents them from running away while you’re trying to get a capture. That said, you’ll want to save the Razz Berries for Pokemon that are more difficult to capture. Those with yellow or red circles around them are good targets for Razz Berries.
Some Pokemon don’t require a ton of candy to evolve, but don’t go spending all of your candy in the early going. Remember, the higher your trainer, the more powerful the initial Pokemon you capture will be. Save up all of your candy for the later levels before you start spending them to evolve. This way, you can evolve the most powerful Pokemon you’ve caught by converting all of your duplicates from the early levels into candy.
Select Your Champion
If you want to become a Gym Leader, it’s probably best to focus on evolving and powering up just one or two Pokemon, at least at the start, instead of going with multiple Pokemon that only make it to an average power level. If you find one you like, try to farm that same general location on a regular basis so that you can keep evolving the same creature.
Take a Bus or an Uber
Den of Geek definitely does not recommend playing Pokemon Go in the car. Unless someone else is driving, that is. Hopping on a bus or taking an Uber is a great way to cover a lot of distance quickly and hopefully see a lot of different Pokemon pop up within a short time frame. Just be sure to quickly tap any Pokemon that spawn because they won’t stay on the screen for long if your vehicle is moving quickly.
Learn to Quickly Snipe Pokestops with the “X”
Speaking of car tips, you don’t have to walk right up to a Pokestop to collect the items. As long as you get relatively close, you should be able to access the Pokestop and then quickly hit the “X” button to loot all of the goodies. In other words, you don’t have to tap each item to collect them all. This can be helpful if someone else is driving you through a crowded area with a lot of Pokestops and you want to hit all of them within a short timespan.
Speaking of crowded or busy areas, many Pokemon Go players have found great success heading into a major city. If you’re bored one weekend with nothing to do, take a field trip to a busy section of the largest city near you. You’ll likely find Pokestops at just about every other bar or significant landmark. What’s really great is that Pokestops respawn in only a handful of minutes in most cases, which means you can map out a walking route where you can just keep looting the same Pokestops over and over.
Play at Different Times
Just like the old school Pokemon games, some of these creatures only like to come out and play during certain times of day. If you really want to catch them all, you might have to adjust your evening schedule. But hey, a little nightly exercise instead of just sitting on the couch watching Netflix again never hurt anyone, right?
Egg Incubators Might Be Worth the Investment
Pokestops will drop both Pokemon eggs and egg incubators. But the incubators tend to be a bit more rare and the game only gives you one incubator that you can use repeatedly. If you have a major collection of eggs just sitting around waiting for an incubator, this is one case where it might be worth spending a bit of real money in the in-game shop in order to grab another one. This way, when you walk around, you can incubate more than one egg at the same time.
Seek Out Different Areas
If you truly want to become a masterful Pokemon trainer, you’ll have to find time to go to different parts of town where you otherwise might never find yourself. For example, water-based Pokemon tend to spawn near bodies of water or rivers. Grass-based Pokemon are more likely to be found out in the countryside than in the middle of some urban sprawl.
Lucky Eggs Can Help Close the Gap
One more cash shop investment that might actually be worth it if you want to be competitive quickly is the Lucky Egg. This type of egg significantly increases the amount of XP your trainer earns for catching Pokemon and other activities while it is active. If you find your Pokemon hopelessly outclassed by the competition, drop a dollar or two on some Lucky Eggs to get your trainer level up, and you’ll soon find that you’re fighting on a much more even battlefield.
Roll Up to the Gym with a Team
There is one alternative, however, if you’re not a high enough level on your own to take out someone’s powerful Gym guardian. If you meet up with other Pokemon Go players of the same faction, you can actually all attack a Gym at the same time. Your Pokemon still might not be standing at the end of the battle, but if your team takes the Gym, you should still get at least some credit and XP for the accomplishment.
Traditional Pokemon Strengths and Weaknesses Are in Play
Most of the commentary about Pokemon from the mainstream press since the game launched has been along the lines of just how cute many of these imaginary creatures are. But what longtime Pokemon veterans know is that sometimes the cutest creature is packing the nastiest punch. When you’re about to go to battle for a Gym, pay attention to your Pokemon’s available abilities and how they might match up against your opponent. A database like this one can help you figure out what each Pokemon’s greatest strengths and weaknesses are so that you can plan your upcoming battle accordingly.
Always Dodge First
When starting a Gym battle, it’s generally a good idea to go in with a defensive frame of mind. If you’re not sure how quick or powerful the opposing Pokemon is, be ready to dodge their opening attack immediately by swiping on the screen. Then, you can counter-attack by tapping the opposing creature or holding down with a longer press to unleash your special attack.
You Can Immediately Reclaim a Lost Gym If You’re Fast Enough
So you’ve hung out at your local coffee shop or another spot near a Pokemon Gym all day when it happens: Your gym is under attack, and you’re about to lose control to the opposing side. That’s OK, don’t panic. There’s actually a pretty sneaky tip you can use to take the gym back and frustrate your opponent. As your gym begins to fall, prepare a team to re-enter. As soon as the Gym turns from your color back to white, try and reclaim the Gym before the opposing side does. Chances are, they might not have even been aware that you were in the area. If you can quickly snipe the Gym back to your side, you’ll leave your opponent fuming and possibly unwilling to continue.
Earn Free Pokecoins By Coordinating Your Gym Defense
You can earn free Pokecoins for about every 20 hours that you remain in control of a Gym. If you’re working with a team, coordinate your schedules so that someone is always available to help defend. If your Pokemon remains in the Gym for the duration, you’ll earn some in-game currency for your efforts.
Use Lures Strategically
Pokestops and the in-game shop have Lures that can be used to, well, “lure” Pokemon to a Pokestop. If you’re playing with friends, head downtown or to another congested area with a lot of stops and let each of your friends use a lure at a different stop along the route. Then, you can all walk from stop to stop and pretty much have an endless supply of Pokemon without having to wait around at any given stop for the next creature to appear.
Save Those Special Pokeballs for Rare Pokemon
As you level up, your trainer will get access to more powerful Pokeballs. These Pokeballs have a greater chance of capture success, so you should really hold onto them until needed. Don’t waste a more powerful Pokeball on a “green circle” or easy to catch creature. Wait until you see a Pokemon with a yellow or red circle to whip out the big guns.
Force Quit rhe App and Reload Quickly to Get Around Server Issues
Pokemon Go, like many online-based games, has had to deal with a lot of server crashes in the early going. It can be frustrating to be in the middle of a Gym battle or capture attempt, only to have the game freeze on you. When this happens, force the app to quit on your phone and quickly reload. If you’re fast enough, the game might pick up right where you left off, as if the server hiccup never even happened.
Buy a Battery Pack
In addition to server issues, many players are also complaining about battery drain. If you really want to become a Pokemon master, a battery pack might not be a bad idea. You can find plenty for cheap on Amazon and other online retailers.
Don’t Forget the Sunscreen
Finally, one last piece of advice: walking around outside all day is a concept that might be foreign to some gamers. If you fit this description, don’t forget to protect yourself or else you could end up looking as orange and red as that last Krabby you caught.
Jason Gallagher is a staff writer.