Pokemon GO Guides

Pokemon Go Beginner Guide: Tips & Tricks


Pokemon go the highly popular Pokemon mobile game developed by the Actual Reality leading company, Niantic, known for the games’ predecessor, Ingress. This game works by tracking location data and combines it with maps and your phone’s camera function to bring the world of Pokemon to life. Because of its newly immersive style of gameplay and Pokemon’s place in pop culture, it rapidly gained popularity, paving the way to its position at the top of the Google and iOS app stores.

Because we’re all responsibly taking social distancing measures, Niantic has made it so that you can play their game from home! The game’s having a sudden surge in its popularity, allowing it to soar back to its place as a top-downloaded app.

Pokemon GO: Basic Gameplay, Tips & Tricks

The main features of the game are incredibly simple. Primarily, you walk around a vibrant real-world map to hatch eggs, spin Pokestops, visit gyms to collect items, and catch Pokemon. Afterward, the game naturally allows you to progress towards battling in gyms, raids, or against other trainers and Team Rocket. While all of this sounds like a lot, it’s incredibly simple.

To give you a clear idea of how to play, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know to successfully become a Pokemon Go master. 

Configuring Game Settings

Playing Pokemon GO the right way starts with changing a few of its in-game settings. These settings will allow you to maintain your phone’s battery life, gain some extra footsteps, and will make catching Pokemon easier.


AR Mode

When you launch the game and tap on a pokemon for the very first time, you’ll be amazed by the AR mode that allows Pokemon to appear in your living room or around nearby streets. As fun as it is, keeping it on all the time makes the game more challenging to play, and it will drain your battery. Later on, you’ll be able to use an in-game camera feature to view the Pokemon you’ve caught, so don’t worry, you can still bring them in the real world! 

While AR mode is enabled, Pokemon aren’t in a set place. You have to twist and turn your phone frustratingly and your body to find the exact position of a pokemon and keep your screen still while you attempt to catch them. While it’s off, Pokemon can always be found at the center of your screen, making it incredibly easy to swipe a Pokeball in their general direction.

Instead of straining yourself and draining your battery, it’s highly recommended to turn off the AR mode.

Battery Saver

The battery saver feature found in the settings menu is another must. While you walk around and actively play, there will often be moments that you won’t bother looking at your screen. During those moments, the battery saver feature throws an almost-black overlay over the display to reduce the game load on your battery.

Adventure Sync

After you’ve reached level 5 in the game, you can enable adventure sync. Adventure sync enables players to gain in-game footsteps based on the distance you walk while you aren’t playing. Adventure sync +can be incredibly useful for gaining candies, or hatching eggs. 


Choosing a Starter Pokemon

The games professor is greeting you is a hallmark of pokemon games, then being given the option to select your very first Pokemon. In other games, which pokemon you want has a significant level of significance, in GO, there isn’t any different. Because your choice doesn’t have any bearing on gameplay, you should just choose your favorite of the three that are offered.


The beloved Pokemon that everyone knows and will often choose as a starter is Pikachu. If you aren’t interested in the other three starter pokemon, you may obtain a Pikachu by running away from the others.

Catching Pokemon

Catching Pokemon is the core mechanic of this game. It will serve you as your primary source of experience, and all it takes to get started is to begin walking. While you’re outside of your home, Pokemon will simply “spawn” or appear as you make your way around the neighborhood. When they’ve appeared on screen, you can tap them to confront them and ultimately catch them.

Pokeballs, Throwing and Catching

The first thing you need to catch a pokemon is Pokeballs! If you’re just trying the game out for the very first time, Pokeballs can be obtained by spinning Pokestops or by visiting gyms. These come in three varieties, which are the regular red Pokeballs, the blue and red “great balls,” and the black and yellow “ultra balls.” In that order, each grade of Pokeball increases your chance of getting a catch.

To use the Pokeball, you need to swipe the ball on your screen towards the Pokemon and expertly let it go in the right moment. This will take some practice during your first few times playing, but you’ll quickly get used to it. Eventually, if you’re feeling brave enough, you can spin the ball in a circle before releasing it to throw a curveball. Regardless, for a successful catch, the Pokeball needs to hit the Pokemon within the circle on your screen. 

The ultimate throw is called an “excellent throw”. These can be achieved by hitting the circle at the point when it’s at its smallest size. When you’re successful, a small line of text saying “Excellent!” will appear.

Shiny Pokemon

A shiny pokemon? They’re exactly what they sound like. When you encounter a shiny Pokemon, they’ll be animated with a bit of shimmering and shining to make them identifiable. Asides from their flashiness, a shiny pokemon will always be an alternate color to its standard counterpart. These are highly sought after and only come around once in a while. If you happen to encounter one, it’s highly advised to catch it and keep it.


Without much explanation, you’ll receive berries in the game which have different effects on catching Pokemon. The most commonly used berry is the Razzberry, or Golden Razzberry, which increases your chances of capturing the creature after a successful throw. Other berries may include Pinap Berries, which increase the amount of candy you’re awarded after a catch and Nanab berries that will stop jumpy Pokemon from moving around.

Pokemon Levels

CP level

There are a couple of things that you’ll want to pay close attention to while you’re catching Pokemon. Firstly, there will be a number above a Pokemon’s head. We call this number CP, or “Combat Power”, which determines how strong a pokemon will be in battle. The combat power number is calculated based on a few different statistics called “IV’s” (Individual Values), 

IV Level

Similar to the CP level, Pokemon also have a hidden level known as IV or initial value. This number is tough to determine and previously required third-party tools for an exact number. In the Summer of 2019, Niantic released a pokemon appraisal feature, which allows users to have a clear idea of the quality they’re getting without having to leave the Pokemon Go app. The IV level is also based on a combination of the Pokemons statistics.

The IV level is important because it lets you know exactly how much room your Pokemon might still have to grow. By feeding a pokemon candy and stardust, a pokemon with a high IV can have an incredibly high CP.

Upgrading Pokemon

As fun as it might be, you shouldn’t immediately upgrade Pokemon whenever you can. During your lower levels, you’ll occasionally want to pick a few pokemon to enhance so you have something to battle with or keep in your team’s gym. Asides from that, you should save all of the candies you possibly could. Holding out for better Pokemon when you get into the higher levels of the game is a great way to build the most reliable team. A great way to look at it is, you’ll get more value out of a pokemon with a high IV than a low one.

Asides from raising the statistics of a Pokemon, you’ll also have the opportunity to change a Pokemon’s moves which are used in battle. Battling often takes a little bit of strategy to successfully counter other players or raids.

Player Level: How and Why You Should Raise It

As you catch Pokemon and begin to battle, you’ll gain experience and ultimately go up levels. Leveling yourself up is highly beneficial. If you’re able to climb up to higher levels, you’ll be enabled to participate in challenging group activities, including raids.

Evolving Pokemon

If you’re entirely new to Pokemon, you probably didn’t know that they evolve. A Pokemon like Pikachu can eventually be evolved into a Raichu, or Pidgey to PIdgeotto. In Pokemon Go, you’ll acquire candies that are specific to each Pokemon by catching them. After accruing enough candy, you can use it to turn your Pokemon into its next evolution. With every evolution, you’ll gain a little bit of experience.


Lucky Eggs

A lucky egg is a rare find unless you buy one, so hold on to these until they’re most useful. Lucky eggs increase the amount of experience you gain for an entire 30 minutes. An easy strategy to get the most use out of a lucky egg is to catch tons of easy-to-evolve Pokemon like pidgeys. After catching enough Pokemon to spend some time evolving them, turn on a lucky egg, and let the evolution begin. By evolving Pokemon en-masse, you can easily earn thousands of experience in a short amount of time.


The research system is the most time-consuming part of Pokemon GO! There are two types of research available, and one can be treated more like a daily short-term mechanic, and the other is designed for the long-haul. To gain levels quickly, and gain an opportunity to catch a rare pokemon once per week, you’ll need to participate in “Field Research”.

Field Research tasks are an excellent source of items and the chance to catch Pokemon. You can gain field research tasks by spinning Pokestops. The research tasks available for each Pokestop may vary from day to day, so pick and choose the rewards you want wisely.

By completing field research, you’re able to collect a “research stamp” once per day. When you’ve collected enough to complete the stamp sheet, you’ll be rewarded with a chance to catch a rare pokemon.

The second type of research you’ll participate in is “Special Research”. Each special research page is a series of tasks that give you tremendous experience rewards and copious amounts of useful items. At the end of a few of them, you can catch some incredibly rare pokemon.

Leveling increases CP

Every time you level up, you’ll have a higher chance of encountering more top CP pokemon. 

Because higher CP pokemon are more challenging to catch, reaching certain levels also unlocks the different qualities of Pokeballs. At lower levels, when you’re just starting, it’s not uncommon to encounter Pokemon with IVs as little as 50 or as high as 1000. Until you’ve played for a while, the CP levels will generally be low.

Leveling Gives You Better Loot

Not only do Pokemon get better as you level, but the loot you gain also improves as well! Every few levels you’ll begin to find yourself obtaining higher quality and larger quantities of useful items like Pokeballs or Berries.

Fighting in Gyms, Raids and Against Other Players

When you’ve built a team and climbed a few levels, you’re going to want to do a bit of battling. Through gyms, you have the opportunity to gain more items from a gym if it’s owned by your team, and raids give extremely high experience and item rewards.

How To Battle

The battling experience is relatively straightforward, but it can vary depending on where you’re doing your battling.

Other Players and Team Rocket

If you’re up against another player or have the chance to battle against Team Rocket, battling involves a combination of tapping and executing special moves. Special moves will be presented at the bottom of the battle screen and need to be charged up by attacking the other player. When the gauge of the move has filed up, you can use it. The other player will have two opportunities to use a special shield and block that move. While the move is active, you’ll have to swipe across all of the small icons that appear to inflict the most damage.


Gym battles are almost the same, but you don’t get to charge up your attacks in the same fun Fruit Ninja-esque way. Just choose your strongest Pokemon and keep tapping the other player until they’re down. You still get to attack them with your special moves, just don’t expect the same excitement.


Raids are arguably the most critical part of the battling feature in Pokemon Go. While checking the “raids” menu, you’ll notice that there are usually several rare Pokemon hovering above nearby gyms. The rare Pokemon can be battled and captured, and often make an incredibly strong addition to your team.

A tiering system classifies raids. Tier 1 raids are the lowest and most comfortable, and Tier 5 is incredibly difficult. Starting around level 15-20, you should have strong enough pokemon to begin participating in the lower tiers. If you can, higher tiers can easily be accomplished with large groups of people. A total of 20 players can participate in a single raid.

If you’re not spending any money on the game, you can participate in 1-2 raids per day. The system uses a unique item called a “Raid Pass” which acts as a disposable ticket to enter the big battles. You can get a raid pass per day just by visiting a gym. If you decided to use yesterdays in a raid today, you would still be able to claim a pass for today. In addition to regular raid passes, you can spend as little as a few dollars to buy them from the in-game store.

Ultimately, battling in a raid is the same as it would be in a gym. 

Playing During the Pandemic

Unfortunately, most of us are stuck inside and won’t be spinning many pokestops. To help maintain social distance, Niantic has been assisting players to to the extent players can now enjoy Pokemon Go from home. 

Each week during lockdown measures, players have the opportunity to spend a Pokecoin on items that help them play indoors. Incense with an increased effect and hundreds of Pokeballs have been made available so far. By turning on an incense, you can catch Pokemon every few seconds, which is a fantastic privilege for players to take advantage of the game.

Asides from giving us items at a heavily discounted rate, you’re also able to touch gyms from more than double the usual distance. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been extended to pokestops yet, and we can only hope it does soon.


Although it might be a lot to take in at once, Pokemon Go is a pleasurable game, and learning how to play will feel incredibly natural. Because of the current situation, there’s plenty of time to take your time to learn the ins and outs of the game.

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Donte Ennis

A former avid PC Gamer turned mobile-gaming behemoth. Follow me through my journey of playing the best mobile games the app store has to offer for both Android & iOS. I give my honest, no-bullshit review. I'll let you know if games are worth your time or simply a cash grab.
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