Pokemon GO Guide: How To Get Started and Level Up

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#1 Pokestops

Pokemon GO officially launches and lacks the extensive tutorial that many gamers are looking for. Here’s a guide to leveling up and catching them all.

Pokemon GO is officially released in a few countries (after a confusing soft launch), including the U.S., and last night many Pokemon trainers hit the streets and started playing the game. Although there is some great potential in Pokemon GO, it is similar to Niantic’s last game, Ingress, in that it lacks an extensive tutorial. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

The built-in tutorial offers enough info to get players started and out into the world, but not much more. The new silver fox Professor shows up and teaches players how to throw a Pokeball and catch their starter buddy. After that, the professor mostly disappears and tells players to get out into the world and start exploring. This is where things can get a confusing…

Here’s a breakdown of what you’ll see in the world, what the basic locations and items are, and how to reach level 5 so you can start capturing gyms…

While walking around town (in the real world by actually putting one foot in front of the other), players will find locations on the minimap that look like a blue Pokeball symbol. These are Pokestops and are the easiest way to pick up items and experience points in the early game (without using microtransactions).

Once a Pokestop is within range (that pulsing circle around the avatar), players can click the Pokestop and a circular image of a real world location will appear. Sometimes it’ll be a bench or a building or even a coffee shop. Spin the picture in the circle by swiping it and when it’s done spinning some items will fall out and float in bubbles. Pop the bubbles and these items will be added to your inventory and experience points will be added to your character (these are tracked in the lower lefthand corner).

After successfully visiting a Pokestop, it will change from blue to purple on the map. That means it’s exhausted and you can revisit it later when it’s blue again (usually about fifteen minutes to respawn). Pokestops are in the same spots for everyone, but one won’t be exhausted because a different player visited it just before you.

Pokemon GO Guide: How To Get Started and Level Up
Pokemon GO Guide: How To Get Started and Level Up

#2 Gyms

A big part of Pokemon GO is battling to control Gyms (and keeping your phone charged). Gyms look like tall towers and will be color-coded based on which team is currently in control of them (teams are chosen at level 5). This is something that players don’t need to worry about until they reach level 5. If you’ve already hit level 5 (which should only take maybe two hours of walking around a populated town visiting Pokestops), then visit our Gym guide for more details on this aspect of the game.

Pokemon GO Guide: How To Get Started and Level Up
Pokemon GO Guide: How To Get Started and Level Up

#3 Catching Pokemon

Finding Pokemon to add to the Pokedex is what the game is all about, right?! While exploring your area in the real world, Pokemon will appear sporadically. Unlike Gyms and Pokestops, there won’t be icons on the map that can be seen from far away indicating where Pokemon are. When close to Pokemon, the monsters’ shapes and outlines can be seen on the map. Eventually, the Pokemon will appear in color on the map and players can click it to enter the encounter. We recommend playing with at least one earbud in, because the sound effects of a Pokemon appearing make it easier to not miss an opportunity.

Once the Pokemon encounter begins, just swipe the Pokeball at the Pokemon like the professor explained in the tutorial. This can take a bit of getting used to, but shouldn’t be a very difficult task. The color of the inner circle relates to difficulty, so green is easy and red is hard. Try to release the Pokeball when the inner circle is smallest for the best results. Once the Pokemon is successfully caught, experience is added to the player and the Pokemon is in the collection.

There is a little tracking guide in the bottom righthand corner of the screen that will let players know which Pokemon are nearby. This is helpful if players are trying to track down a particular type.

Pokemon GO Guide: How To Get Started and Level Up
Pokemon GO Guide: How To Get Started and Level Up

#4 Eggs and Incubators

One of the items that can drop at a Pokestop is an egg. Eggs offers a unique opportunity to hatch a Pokemon that may not usually be available in a player’s area. Each egg has a distance associated with it and players need to walk that far with the egg in an incubator to hatch the egg. Eggs with greater distances are associated with more rare Pokemon. This is fun motivation to get out and moving, but Niantic doesn’t explain how to equip an egg in the incubator very well in game.

Here is how it’s done:

* In the Map View, touch the Main Menu
* Touch Pokémon
* At the top of the screen, touch the word Eggs
* Select one of your Eggs
Touch Start Incubation
* Select an incubator to use on your Egg
Walk to hatch the Egg

Only one egg can be in an incubator at a time and a player can hold up to nine eggs in inventory at once. Be sure you have the app open and running while getting steps or they won’t count towards the egg’s total.

Pokemon GO Guide: How To Get Started and Level Up
Pokemon GO Guide: How To Get Started and Level Up

#5 Transfer Doubles

Just like in other Pokemon games, it won’t take long to run into the same Pokemon over and over again. Luckily, there’s good motivation to capture duplicates in PoGo. Players will likely want to choose one of each Pokemon to hang onto (probably the one with the highest CP) and then transfer the weaker ones to the professor in exchange for candies (it sounds weird, but roll with it).

Pokemon level up and evolve by eating candy specific to their species. So trade-in your extra Pidgeys to get some Pidgey candy that can be fed to Pidgey, Pidgeotto, or Pidgeot. Players will want to get in this habit early if they want their Pokemon to be strong enough to hold down some gyms when they hit level 5.

This process is all done by selecting the Pokemon option on the menu screen. Each Pokemon has the Transfer button available to cash it in for candy. Each Pokemon will also have a Power Up and Evolve button. Power Ups also require Stardust, which is acquired by catching Pokémon, hatching Eggs, or transferring a Pokémon to the Professor.

That should be plenty of information to get started with and player’s should be well on their way to catching them all if they can master these basic skills. Check back for advanced tutorials after we have some more hours in the game.

Pokemon GO Guide: How To Get Started and Level Up
Pokemon GO Guide: How To Get Started and Level Up

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