Pokémon Go: Everything You Need To Know

What is Pokémon?

Pokémon is a Nintendo video game franchise and Japanese cartoon in which fictional creatures with unique special powers are battled against one another by their human trainers. Kind of brutal when you think about it.

Pokémon loosely translates as “pocket monster”. The Pokémon are kept in small Pokéballs whilst the trainer walks between “gyms” where battles take place and the winners are made “gym leader”. Keeping up?

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So what is Pokémon Go?

Pokémon Go is an augmented reality game played on Android and iOS smartphones, which takes the original principles of Pokémon and applies them to the real world.

Using GPS, the human trainers are the ‘real world’ users of the app. You can pick up new Pokémon at real world locations that the app sends you to. Once you reach the location, you wave your phone camera over the area until the animated Pokémon appears. You catch the Pokémon by throwing an animated Pokéball.

You can then begin training your Pokémon. You can even become the “gym leader” of a certain location, like a train station. So it’s effectively like Foursquare, but with Pikachu.

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How can I get my hands on Pokémon Go?


After a short pause, Pokémon Go has been released in the UK on the iOS App Store and Google Play.

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We caught up with some fans of the game to chat about their experiences so far

Is Pokémon Go just for kids?

Hell no. In fact, these celebrities who love Pokémon Go are more than a little addicted.

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Which countries have Pokémon Go?

Here are the countries with Pokémon Go so far:

Australia, New Zealand, United States, Canada, Japan, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macau, Macedonia, and Serbia, Puerto Rico, Hong Kong, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Falkland Islands, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, Belize, Panama, El Salvador, Brunei, Cambodia, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Palau, Philippines, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Rwanda, Seychelles, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Chad, Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe, Egypt, Morocco, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mauritania, Niger, Sierra Leone and Togo.

(We’ll keep the list updated when a new country is added.)

When the game came to Argentina, the government was clearly a little worried about their citizens becoming phone zombies, so they tweeted this image to make sure users stayed safe:

Can I get extra XP by throwing Pokéballs?

Yes! Throw your Pokéball with skill to get your hands on extra XP. If you manage to throw the ball inside the coloured (usually green) ring that slowly closes around the Pokémon, you’ll get a ‘Great Throw’ notification, and some extra XP. You’ll also get extra XP for a curveball – drawing a circle around the ball to give it spin before throwing it. Then there’s the ‘Nice Throw’, which is not as good as a great throw and is like a tiny consolatory pat on the back.

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I just can’t find one specific type of Pokémon. Where are they?

Fear not! Pokémon Go have introduced a new feature which will reward you when you catch lots of one type with Pokémon of the corresponding type. This is an update on the ‘medals’ rewards you used to receive for multiple ‘flying’ types, for example. So if you can’t find Charmander, keep looking for Squirtle.


What are Razz Berries?

When fed to wild Pokémon, these handy little items will slow the target down. Using the razz berry at the same time as a Great Ball will make catching rare and powerful Pokémon a whole lot easier.

What do the coloured rings around a Pokémon mean?

The coloured rings will help you catch the Pokémon. The smaller the coloured ring is when you throw your Pokéball, the more likely it is you’ll catch it. The ring’s colour denotes how hard a Pokémon is to catch. Green is easy, yellow is medium and red is hard.

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What are lucky eggs, how should I use them and where can I get hold of them?

Lucky eggs will boost your XP for a limited time. You can collect them by levelling up, or through purchasing them at the store. The best way to earn XP and progress to the next level in the game is by evolving your Pokémon (using the Pokémon’s candies), so if you ‘save up’ multiple Pokémon evolutions for a time when you have a lucky egg in use, you’ll maximise your XP growth. This means you could even skip levels by using a lucky egg at the same time as evolving your Pokémon.

How can I get Pikachu as a starter Pokémon on Pokémon Go?

To get Pikachu as a starter Pokémon, you need to walk away from the Squirtle, Charmander and Bulbasaur initially offered. They will respawn a few times but eventually a fourth Pokémon, Pikachu, will arrive. It’s like Pokémon Yellow all over again.

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How many Pokémon are there?

There are 151 varieties of Pokémon to catch. The rarest of all are Mew, Mewtwo, Moltres, Zapdos, Articuno and Ditto. Nobody has reportedly found one of these Pokémon yet. Here’s a chart compiled on Reddit showing the rarest Pokémon to date.

Updated Rarity Chart from pokemongo

When will I be able to catch Mewtwo and the Legendary Birds?

Niantic Labs, the developers of Pokémon Go, have confirmed that some Legendary Pokémon (the rarest Pokémon) will not be made available until after the worldwide release of the game. This presumably includes Mewtwo and the Legendary Birds of Generation I, who have not been sighted by players, but whose info is included in the game code.

Following the worldwide release, you should be able to get your hands on the missing Legendary Pokémon at special meetup events, where trainers can team up to defeat the Pokémon.

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What are the most powerful Pokémon?

This handy chart tells you which are the most powerful according to their Pokémon Go stats.

Can I catch Pokémon without moving?

You can use incense to get Pokémon to come to you rather than chasing after them. This does sort of defeat the purpose of making you go move around, but meh. It also attracts other people trying to reap the benefits of the incense. Also, see our hacks to avoiding walking.

How do I track nearby Pokémon?

An older version of the game tracked how close you were to a wild Pokémon through different footprints (more footprints meaning it was further away, and fewer footprints meaning the Pokémon was close by). However, due to a bug that made all the Pokémon appear three footprints away, Niantic have now removed this feature. In addition, third party Pokémon radar apps appear to have been disabled by Niantic.

The August 9th update however changed the “Nearby Pokémon” feature to “sightings”. But in San Francisco, users are being told which Pokémon have spawned by nearby Pokéstops. The update states that Niantic are “currently testing a variation of the ‘Nearby Pokémon’ feature with a subset of users,” so let’s hope this will get a universal rollout soon.


Can I choose my Eevee evolution?

Yes, and it’s a neat little hack. When you’re ready to evolve, go to your Pokémon list and rename your Eevee to Pyro (for Flareon), Rainer (for Vaporeon) or Sparky (for Jolteon). Save and re-start the game to ensure the changes have gone through. Then evolve, and you should get your desired Eevee! This is a reference to the anime series, in which the ‘Eevee brothers’, named Pyro, Rainer and Sparky had the same corresponding Eevee evolutions.

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Can I trade Pokémon with other players?

Trading Pokémon is a classic feature of the video game, often the only way to ‘catch ’em all’, with two different versions of the same game featuring different Pokémon. This is currently impossible on Pokémon Go, but Niantic Labs CEO John Hanke confirmed at the 2016 San Diego Comic Con that trading will be made possible with a future update of the game.

Local trading was possible on the Pokémon Go beta test, where users could find trainers nearby and send them a message to request a trade. Hopefully the trading update on the new version of the game will allow users to exchange Pokémon over the internet from longer distances, so we don’t have to travel so far to catch location specific Pokémon.

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When can I go back to a Pokéstop?

You can go back to a Pokéstop every 5 minutes. If you live near one you don’t have to go anywhere, you can just go back to the app every so often for a bounty of Pokéballs, potions and eggs.

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Are there any Pokémon Centres?

Though the game currently does not include any Pokémon Centres (you can get balls etc at Pokéstops instead), at the 2016 San Diego Comic Con, Niantic Labs (the app developer) confirmed that updates to the game will include the facility to turn your Pokéstop into a Pokémon Centre. In future, Niantic Labs hopes to add other customisation features to the Pokéstops, which will encourage users to visit a variety. However, these customisation features were not revealed.

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How can I get my eggs to hatch

You need to keep the app open if you want your eggs to hatch, keeping the eggs in an incubator. To start with it’ll take just 2km before they open up, and as the Pokémon inside the eggs go up in rarity this distance will reach 5-10km – but your app will need to be open the whole time. It won’t register movement if the screen is locked, which is a bit annoying really. ¯_(ツ)_/¯


How do I get extra candy?

In order to get your hands on extra candy, you need to hand your excess Pokémon into Professor Willow. Candy helps you evolve Pokémon, so you want as much of it as possible. You get some every time you catch a Pokémon – Pidgey candy, for example, will help you evolve a Pidgey into a Pidgeotto and a Pidgeotto into a Pidgeot – but you’ll end up having a lot of Pidgeys if you catch that many, so trade ’em. This also frees up space to catch more Pokémon!

You can also ‘walk’ your Pokémon (making it your Pokémon ‘buddy’) for extra candy which you can then use to evolve the monster.

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What if I feel judged for having my camera open in public?

Fear not, you can turn off your camera when you’re out catching Pokémon. After you click on a Pokémon to enter the catching screen, click the AR slider to off and you won’t have to point your camera in a certain direction. This does mean you will no longer see a Diglett popping its head out the seat of your toilet, but there’s probably enough of that online to satisfy you.

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I chose a stupid nickname when I joined. Can I change it?

Yes! But only once. You have to click on the Pokéball menu button at the bottom of the screen, then go to settings in the upper right hand corner. Then select ‘Change Nickname’.

Who are the Pokémon Go team leaders?

Pokémon Go features three teams: Team Valor, Team Mystic and Team Instinct. These teams are lead by Candela, Blanche and Spark respectively.

Can I change my avatar’s appearance after I’ve started playing?

Yes! This was one of the changes included in the July 31st update. Now you can change your outfit, shoes, even eye colour, at any point in the game. So you can make sure your jacket matches the colours of Team Valor, Team Mystic or Team Instinct.

What is Pokémon Go Plus?

Niantic are well aware that it can get annoying to keep reaching for your phone to play Pokémon Go, and looking at your phone screen can slow you down on the move. So together with Nintendo, they’ve invented Pokémon Go Plus, a peripheral device you can clip onto your clothing or wear like a watch to connect with your smartphone using a small bluetooth connection. The device vibrates and lights up if something happens in the game, like when there’s a Pokémon nearby. This means you can keep playing without having to constantly check your phone. Though originally planned for a July release date, the Pokémon Go Plus was eventually pushed back to September 16th.

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Pokémon Go drains my battery! How can I stop this?

As of August 9th, Pokémon Go has returned the battery saving feature that was removed with the 31st July update. This dims the backlight and makes some difference to busy trainers on the go. But if you want to stay on the safe side pack your phone charger, or make sure a Mewtwo is handy to keep you powered up.

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You could also try turning on greyscale (iPhone settings > General > Accessibility > Greyscale) like this imgur user, who points out that this display has the nostalgic look and feel of the original Pokémon games.

Turned my greyscale on for powersaving. Feels like I’m playing the original pokemon games

How do I win gym battles in Pokémon Go?

One of the most effective tactics you can use to beat the Pokémon Gym’s standing leader is by dodging the opponent’s attacks before making your own. This involves swiping across the screen at the split second before they make their attack. Watch the video below for a full tutorial on how to dodge attacks.

How powerful is my Pokémon?

You can find out all of your Pokémon’s stats by clicking on the ‘Menu’ > ‘Pokémon’ tool. When you select the Pokémon you’re interested in, you can see its attacks, HP, Stardust, Candy and CP (combat power – which is the real measure of how well your Pokémon measures up to other species). Once the Pokémon is selected, you can also select the menu button in the bottom right hand corner to get it ‘appraised’. Your team leader will tell you which is the Pokémon’s best qualities, or if it has any room for improvement.

And of course, this leaves plenty of room for immature jokes:

What actions collect XP to level up?

Capturing a Pokémon will give you 100 XP, but if they’re a new Pokémon to be registered to the Pokédex, you’ll get an extra 500 XP. Evolving the Pokémon will earn you a further 500 XP, so use your lucky egg and stockpile your evolutions if you really want to cash in (details above).

Hatching a Pokémon from an egg will give you 200 XP from a 2km egg, 500 XP from a 5km egg and 1000 XP from a 10km egg.

Checking in at a Pokéstop is another good way to earn XP over period. Each spin will earn 50 XP, or 100 XP if the stop gives you six or more items.

As detailed above, you can get small bonuses for skilled Pokéball throws, ranging from 10 XP – 100 XP.

The amount of XP on offer by training and battling at a gym will depend on your success rate.

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Is Pokémon Go secure?

Pokémon Go has certainly raised some security concerns, as the first version of the game handed over full account access when you used your Google ID to login. Pokémon Go have since expressed that this was a mistake and released an update which fixes the privacy hole, so make sure you’re on the latest version. The update gives the developer access only to your e-mail address and Google ID. If you’re still unsure, then make a separate Google account and use it just for Pokémon Go.


Why should I care about Pokémon Go?

It’s a good question.

In the U.S, Pokémon Go is already more popular than Tinder, and as popular as Twitter. 3% of all android devices in the U.S have an active copy of Pokémon Go.

It’s seriously addictive. The daily usage time is an average of 43 minutes, 23 seconds. That might be why one man from New Zealand quit his job to go on a two month Pokémon Go search after collecting 700 Pokémon in less than a week, or why an Australian man was sacked for calling Singapore “F*****g s**t” as the game wasn’t available in the country.

Pokémon Go increased Nintendo’s shares by 56% in less than a week.


Businesses are taking Pokémon Go very seriously, as the game can have a powerful effect on footfall. Look at this mall for example: It hosted a Pokémon Gym, so they changed their central lobby into an ‘arena’ where users can compete.

Some unfortunate things have happened to the users of Pokémon Go

Like finding a dead body, armed robbers using the app to lure gamers into their trap, and a “sodomite” Clefairy (a type of Pokémon) claiming the Westboro Baptist Church as a gym and the new gym leader facing a homophobic attack. Yep, still wrapping my head around that last one.

Australian police have even issued a Pokémon Go safety statement in response.


Pokémon Go has helped people get dates (and other cool stuff)

There’s no shortage of great stories about Pokémon Go since its release. Redditor UnityTreeSavior won the hearts and minds of the /r/Pokemon thread with his romantic tale of bonding with a stranger over Pokémon Go in the street (when they looked up from their phones).

Pokémon Go users even helped to save a local bar:

Pokémon Go saved our local bar. from pokemongo

And they went out collecting rubbish in the name of catching Pokémon!

We had an awesome turnout for our Pokemon Go Cleanup event! from pokemongo

Cancer patients have found comfort in finding Pokémon in the hospital whilst receiving chemotherapy.


Got any questions you want answered about Pokémon Go? Let us know! Tweet us @NME

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