Pokémon GO has just hit the app store in your country (Maybe) and what in the name of shorts that are comfy and easy to wear are you gonna do about it? Download and jump right in headfirst? Well ease up there, Brash Ketchum, cause I’m bringing you a breakdown of just how the new app works and what you should know about it.
Pokémon GO is a joint effort with Niantic Labs, the group responsible for bringing the Ingress app into existence back when they were a part of Google. Like Ingress, PGO makes use of real-life locations and GPS signals to put your phone in the middle of the action as you hunt for Pokémon and train them to become The Best. So if your phone can’t get a GPS signal, you’re gonna have a rough time finding some ‘mons and collecting items.
Pokémon show up pretty randomly, but as long as you were a boss at “Who’s That Pokémon” when you were a kid the game will tell you what’s nearby and how far away they are. Once you encounter them it’s a matter of throwing the Pokéball correctly in order to catch them. There’s definitely a trick to it, and it can be tough to figure out exactly, but you’ll figure it out sort of. Just make sure ball hits ‘mon and it’ll be usually fine. You can also collect Pokémon by collecting eggs and putting them inside special incubators. These incubators will hatch the eggs once you’ve walked a certain distance.
Items are found at PokéStops, which are real-world locations of interest in your community. They can be anything, a stack of rocks that looks cool: a mural you never really cared about until now, a weird piece of modern art, as long it’s a vaguely interesting thing. For this reason if you’re in or near a college while playing Pokémon GO you’ll have an excellent and near constant supply of Pokéballs and other items like incense and lures that’ll attract Pokémon to you and make catching them a helluva lot easier. That being said, it’s crazy important to keep an eye on your surroundings while you’re out on your adventure. While there’s no Team Rocket element yet, there might be someone willing to take advantage of your distracted state. Also if you’re loitering around a public park, walking randomly from one end to the other while muttering to your phone, explaining to a cop you’re on your way to becoming a Pokémon Master and there’s a gym at this park might not sit well with them. I might be speaking from experience and I might not want to talk about it.
In the picture to the left you can see the basic setup; The Pokestop here is a blue cube, but it changes when you get close enough to snag items from it. You can also see the gym, which is that platform with a Rhydon on top of it, which happens to be in the middle of a park and serious symptom of Pokegentrification. On the bottom right there’s a quick breakdown of what’s nearby, and if you’ve seen it before.
Speaking of gyms, once you hit level five (Yeah, son, you level up too) you can join a colored faction and start controlling gyms. Gyms are almost the same kinds of places PokéStops are but are more focused on density of people, so parks and generally important landmarks are where you’ll find those. Gyms, in addition to gaining you experience and points for your faction, allow you to level up your Pokémon through battling at friendly gyms. You can battle at unfriendly gyms as well, but this is to wrest control from your opponents. To prevent this happening to YOUR gym, make sure you buff up a member of your team and drop them off at the gym, where they’ll be until some punk defeats them.
This brings us to battling, which is honestly just weird. Swipe left and right to dodge attacks, and tap your opponent to attack. After enough successful attacks you can power up a special attack which will do a lot more damage than your standard attack. This, like catching Pokémon, takes a little bit to figure out and nail down.
And that’s the basics of Pokémon GO. Charge your Pokédex and get out there! Live the dream you’ve had since you were like eight years old, you rapscallion.