13 essential Pokemon Go tips to know before you play


So you've downloaded the app, the internet is awash with pictures of Weedles in  cereal and Tentacools in toilets but where are the Pokemon Go tips? Where's the useful advice to make sure you'll be best there ever was? Never fear. Here are some Pokemon Go tips I wish I'd known before I started.

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What's in your area?

The game originally used pawprints to indicate how close a Pokemon was to your location, but that feature was removed in an update to ease pressure on the game's servers. Now you'll see one of two things: either Pokemon hiding in the grass, or a snapshot of the actual location a Pokemon is lounging around.  You won't get specific help as to how close they are, but their relative position in the "Sightings" box is somewhat of a hint.

Whether you see the grass or the photos depends on where you live; the photo tracking hasn't been rolled out to all areas yet, and right now seems to only be in certain large cities.  Tools like Pokevision used to be able to help you pinpoint exactly where various 'mons might be, but they've all been disabled at the behest of Niantic. You're on your own, Trainer!

Get to those Pokestops

The floaty blue bricks you can hopefully see spread out around the map are what's known as Pokestops. They tend to be local landmarks like churches and tourist spots but I've found some charity shops in there too. When you get into range, you'll get a bit of info, a nice picture and, most importantly a little loot drop of new items that'll probably include a stack of some much needed Pokeballs. As you progress through levels, these rewards will vary more and more. Check out Pokemon Go's level rewards

No trespassing necessary

You don’t need to go right up to a Pokemon to catch it. If it has appeared on your map in cartoon form then you just need to touch it with your finger and you’ll enter the catching screen for Pokeball flicking. This means you don't need to go into a stranger's garden/car/personal space to retrieve a Pikachu. Phew. Check out the rest of our Pokemon Go myths busted

Lures are great

If you can see pink petals falling around a Pokestop, that means someone has attached a lure. This means Pokemon will be attracted to it and it’s active for 30 minutes. This can be used by all trainers so be a good human and activate at a stop you think most people could benefit from it. 

Be incensed

The incense item is exceptionally useful if you want to bring in the most wild Pokemon right to your spot. Unlike the lure which can be shared, the incense means you'll produce a purple cloud for half an hour that will draw Pokemon to you. This is really helpful if you are perhaps in an area where you aren't going to go terribly often. I used incense at the beach the other day to make sure I got the most water Pokemon.

It's also good to buddy this up with a half hourly Lucky Egg that'll give you double XP for that period of time. If you've got all those Pokemon being drawn to you, you may as well make the most of the XP. And that'll double for Pokestops too. 

Steps are eggcellent 

Make sure you use all available incubators for eggs.  These depend on you walking a certain distance so the minute you have a free incubator, get an egg in it - don’t waste those steps. You'll find the eggs in the section next to your Pokemon and when they hatch you'll get a tonne of stardust you can use for upgrading your pocket monsters. Rarer Pokemon can come from higher distance eggs so get incubating those 10km eggs nice and early.

Storage hunters - Here's how to delete items in your bag in Pokemon Go

Keep up with your items. You have a limited number of item spaces and this fills up remarkably quickly if you’re hitting a lot of Pokestops. Want to use up some bits? Try dishing out those Razz berries to hard to catch Pokemon. Turns out they really love fruit and it'll make them easier to catch in your Pokeball. If you get sick of spinning the icons on Pokestops and being told your bag is full, you can upgrade your item space with spending some very real money on Pokecoins. You can also delete items in your pack by hitting the trash can and then selecting how many of those items you'd like to drop to give yourself more room for Pokeballs. 

Use public transport wisely for Pokestops and Pokemon

So it turns out that if you have really fast fingers, you can nab Pokemon from the train or bus. The app doesn't count your travel as steps - unless you are travelling under 10mph -  but you can still see Pokemon on the map and if you can tap them quick enough, you can capture them from your seat. You'll need to be fast with that Pokeball though or they'll disappear. Cheaty...

Bring a buddy

Where would Ash Ketchum be without his Pikachu? Bonds between trainer and Pokemon are not only cute, but beneficial. Head to your trainer profile and select the "Buddy" option from the menu. Here, you can select any Pokemon you've caught as your new walking partner.

Walking with a buddy earns candy for its species, so it's particularly helpful to pick something rare in your area that you want to evolve. Dying for a Charizard but only caught one Charmander? Set him as your buddy and earn Charmander candy just for going on a stroll.

Different species of Pokemon require different distances before you'll earn a candy for your trouble, so consult our chart of Pokemon Go buddy walking distances to help you make your pick.

Head to the Pokemon gym

So those big imposing towers with certain levels and team colours? They're gyms and largely reside in big landmarks such as train stations. Gyms run on Prestige and can store up to 10 Pokemon. If a challenger arrives and gets through all of the Pokemon currently instated, they can remove Prestige and potentially try and steal the gym for their own team. When you win at a gym, you have to leave a Pokemon to fight for you. Understandably, you might not want to leave your only high level Pokemon so this is a good reason to have multiple high level ones. If you can stay in there for 24 hours, you'll get items and XP. Once defeated, they'll arrive back in your Pokemon collection with depleted health. 

Combat tips

To fight a Pokemon at the gym, you don't have the same set up as the standard game. When you arrive in the arena you only have two move types - basic and special. In order to perform your basic attack all your need to do is tap away on your Pokemon. Fill up the special meter that you can see under your health bar and you can send out your special attack by holding your finger on your Pokemon. You'll also need to dodge incoming attacks too, which is just a matter of swiping left and right on the screen. 

Level up and evolve your Pokemon

If you want to fight at gyms you're going to have to level up your Pokemon, so that means increasing their CP stat. You can do this in the power up section when you are looking at your individual monsters - a combination of Stardust and Candy will do the trick. You can get Candy when you send back that specific Pokemon to Professor Willow so keep an eye out for that specific Pokemon and keep sending them back to earn more. It's big numbers of Candy that'll let you evolve too. 

When you evolve your Pokemon, you want them to be as high a CP as possible in order to evolve into an even more powerful beast. If you want to get into the nitty gritty of exactly how much you can level up, pop your Pokemon's details into an IV calculator such as Pokeassistant. This breaks down every category to give you information on your best possible ways to evolve. 

Having distance issues?

Here's an interesting factoid - a member of the GamesRadar+ team wanted to get closer to a Pokestop without actually moving physically closer to it, and he found that restarting the app made his character appear close enough to quickly claim the items. If you can't quite get in range of your target then that might give you the boost you need.

Do you have any more tips for Pokemon Go? Let us know about them in the comments.