Unless you’ve been hiding under a Snorlax-sized rock over the past year, there’s a good chance you’ve caught Pokémon Go fever. Niantic Labs’ mobile monster-catching simulator has successfully turned the real world into a Pokemon playground, where millions of fans are discovering that being outside is actually pretty darn fun. While Pokémon Go is pretty easy to get into, there are plenty of tricks and hidden features you’ll need to know about before you become the very best (like no one ever was). The game has gotten some significant updates since it first launched in Summer 2016, so if you’re just jumping back in, there are a whole bunch of new mechanics to master. Whether you’re looking to dominate your local gym, evolve your Pokémon or just want to know what the heck a Pokéstop is, here are our tips for getting started.
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Pokéstops and Lures When you first fire up the game, you’ll likely see a whole bunch of blue cubes on your map. These are Pokéstops: landmarks where you can get Pokéballs, potions and other key items just by walking up to them, tapping on them and spinning the icon that appears. You’ll also gain experience points (XP) for dropping by Pokéstops, and can revisit them for rewards pretty often. You’ll likely find the most Pokéstops in urban areas filled with notable landmarks, such as New York’s Central Park. You can even use Yelp to find Pokéstops, and there are some third-party map tools out there that help you find Pokémon in your area. If a Pokéstop is glowing with pink hearts around it, that means that someone has dropped a Lure Module, which is a special item that attracts wild Pokemon for 30 minutes. You should always check out Lures for potentially big catches. Master the Curveball Catching monsters is as simple as flicking a Pokéball out them, but you can get more out of your captures by throwing a curveball. To throw one, drag the Pokéball to the middle of the screen, spin it until it starts shining and flick it to the left or right; if it hits, you’ll get a nice XP bonus. Start with Pikachu While you’ll be given the classic choice of Charmander, Bulbasaur and Squirtle when you first start Pokémon Go, you can actually skip all three in favor of series mascot Pikachu. In order to start out with the game’s lovable electric rodent, simply walk away from the three starters once you’re asked to catch them. By the fourth time, you should see Pikachu show up (Thanks for the tip, Polygon). Incubate those Eggs Pokéballs aren’t the only way to add more Pokémon to your collection — you can also hatch some using the eggs you’ll occasionally collect from Pokéstops. To use them, open up your Pokémon collection and hit the Eggs tab on the top right. Then, pick an egg you want to incubate. From there, you’ll just need to walk the distance assigned to the egg to make it hatch. Exercise! Don’t Ignore Duplicates Just because you already have a Pidgey doesn’t mean you should ignore the next eight you stumble across. Catching duplicates still nets you XP, as well as stardust and Pokémon-specific candy — both of which are necessary for powering up and evolving your Pokémon. Transfer Your Pokémon While catching duplicates is helpful, you should get rid of them afterwards in order to save precious storage space. Simply open your collection, tap a Pokémon you want to get rid of and select Transfer — you’ll be rewarded with some sweet Pokémon-specific candy that you can use towards evolving that character. If you want to Transfer a whole bunch of Pokémon at once, simply hold your finger on any Pokémon for a few seconds and then highlight all of the cute little monsters you want to get rid of.