It’s been a few weeks since the launch of the app that even your neighbour who you've never met is talking about. Pokemon Go is now playable in over 50 countries, with the latest location being Nintendo’s origin country, Japan. The smartphone game has made Nintendo more valuable than Sony in less than a week, forced both US presidential nominees to mention the word ‘Pokemon’ in their speeches, and even taught social skills to young people with autism. If you’re not a fan of Pokemon Go you might have installed the PokeGone Chrome extension to try silencing the Internet.
However, if you’re still trying to be the very best, then take note of these actually useful tips from five level 25+ players to guide you this weekend.
There’s tips everywhere. There’s tips about how to level fast. There’s tips about how to get Pikachu as your starter Pokemon. And there’s tips about how to find Pokemon near you by looking at the fiddly steps counter thingy on the bottom right hand side of your screen.
But Why Trust Me?
As an ex-competitive gamer (Call of Duty (PC) and World of Warcraft (PVP: Rank 11, 2.2K rating in 2s), I came into the game wanting to level up fast and be one of the best. I hit level 25 a few days back with a healthy entourage of 1800+ including a dangerous 2150 Snorlax, 2000 Vaporean, 1900 Lapras, and 150,000+ stardust left to power up my future toons.
I’ve been fortunate to meet some smart and high-level Pokemon Go trainers during my travels. Here’s some of our tips that you may not have seen over the Internet yet.
1. Save All The Dust And Candy That You Acquire
“Stardust becomes hard to accumulate especially when it costs so much to power up a Pokémon at higher levels. You earn 100 stardust per Pokémon caught in the wild and some Pokemon, like Gyarados, requires 4000 stardust to level up once, so it’s best to save as much as you can,” says Blade ‘B1adee’ Scott, a level 26 Team Instinct member. “Strong Pokémon can be found in the wild and in eggs at all levels, but higher CP Pokemon favour stronger trainers. Be sure not to use all your stardust levelling up a 200 CP Eevee as you’ll find 500 CP versions when you hit higher levels (20).”
Tom ‘motbackwards’ Phillips, a gamer from Melbourne, agrees with this strategy, “Hold off on from evolving your 3-stage Pokemon until you have enough candy to get to the third generation. Once you have enough candies to get your second level Pokemon to the third stage of evolution, you are more likely to have found a higher level base Pokemon from which to start.”
2. Level Faster By Planning Ahead
You’re probably in a stage where you’re stuck between level 15 and level 20. No matter how many Pokemon you catch or Pokestops you spin, it seems like it’s not making an effect on your XP bar. One of the more better tips I’ve discovered is focus catching Pidgeys (or Caterpies/Weedles) When you have about 40 of them (and about 480 Pidgey candy), pop a Lucky Egg and evolve them all. You’ll get 1000XP per evolution will definitely level up once or maybe even two times before your 30 minute egg runs out.
Not everyone can do this of course. It’s hard to catch so many Pidgeys in a Zubat-infested world, and Vincent ‘Vinnystrife’ Strife, a level 27 gamer from Melbourne, recommends to know your most populous lured-Pokestop area and draw a walking path to ensure maximum efficiency and leveling.
“The best piece of advice I can give anyone for leveling really fast is to know your area, or an area you can get to, and draw up a plan. Near where I live, there’s a place called Waverly Park where there are five lures around the football oval with a running track around it. I went down there and planned it so that I would run inside the oval just enough to grab each lure as I past. I tend to leave the Pokemon that is harder to catch and just move to the next one. There are two big stretches between in this plan where I use the time to capture Pokemon. I average about 30-40K XP an hour without evolving the Pokemon I catch — I save that till later. Once I have enough or need to take a break, I use my Lucky Egg to mass evolve my Pokemon for another XP boost.”
3. Learn How To Curve Your Balls
You’ve probably learned how to throw your Pokeball with your eyes closed. A swish and a flick. But it won’t be this easy when you’re faced with higher-CP’d Pokemon, says Jonno 'Skeptics' Danilov.
“As you climb the level ranks, the Pokemon get stronger. This forces you to start using Great Balls and Ultra Balls which not only wastes a valuable resource, but may introduce curves to your throws that become very annoying if you can’t control the curve. So learn how to curve your balls. Pokemon at higher levels tend to blow your Pokeball away as you throw it as well. The other benefit of throwing curve balls is an additional 10XP bonus. Now it may not seem like much but at my level, any exp is gold!”
4. Don’t Bother Taking Gyms Unless You’re Serious
Pokemon Gyms are a fantastic means of testing your Pokemon’s true strength (and reaping the 500 dust + 10 Pokecoin Defender Bonus ) as the PvP functionality is not yet enabled in the latest version of the game. The first time you take over an enemy gym, it’s the most exciting moment of your Pokemon trainer career, but what Pokemon should you put into the Gym you’ve just spent ten minutes taking over?
The truth is right now, it doesn’t matter, claims B1adee.
“It’s advisable to put your strongest Pokémon into the gym to make it a lot hard for enemy teams to take you down but it is very easy to be brought back down. If you’re up for it though, don’t do it alone. Team up with a few people of the same team (go Team Instinct!) to reinforce your gym to make it harder to take down. This will increase the gym’s overall prestige so players can join and help strengthen the gym. Keep in mind, it does take a lot longer to level up a gym than it does to take one down.”
Note also that taking down gyms will help you level slightly, as beating a level 4 gym will give you 450XP, level 3 gym will give you 350XP, and so on.
5. Know Your Pokemon’s Movetype As You Start Battling Gyms
This last tip is a more advanced one. You’re levelling up faster now and you probably have a few 1600CP+ Pokemon. Not too shabby. So you’re testing your might against gyms and you lose against a 1200CP Pokemon. Why? It’s because of your attack moves. Not every water Pokemon has water moves — even your trusty Squirtle. As Ariel 'arieruu' Goh explains, “ Take note of the types of moves that your Pokemon have and how these can influence how effective your Pokemon is in battle.
In Pokemon Go, there’s something called STAB, or Same Type Attack Bonus, which basically means if a Pokemon of a certain type uses a move of the same type (Grass-type Pokemon using a Grass-type attack), there will be a 25% attack bonus added to the move's strength. A super-effective move will also charge your Pokemon's special attack's meter faster. Another useful tip for gym battling is naming your Pokemon based on their move types. This makes it easier and faster to choose a Pokemon that will be super-effective against the one you are battling at a gym.
For trainers of more advanced levels, it's useful to know Pokemon also have hidden stats called IVs - In Pokemon Go, there's stamina (STA), attack (ATT) and defence (DEF), and these influence your Pokemon's CP and HP. Thus, they influence your Pokemon's potential, and keeping ones with high IVs allows you to have the best Pokemon that you possibly can. Each stat has a maximum of 15, and a Pokemon with maximum IVs (15STA/15ATT/15DEF) would be the "perfect specimen" and will have significantly higher CP and HP than one with minimum IVs (0STA/0ATT/0DEF) when they are both powered up as much as they can be. If you want to learn more about these more complex layers of the game, you can find useful resources generated by fans here and here.
If you thought these tips were good, here's a few additional ones based on my experience with the game:
- If you're going to spend money on the game, buy Lucky Eggs. They're about 70c a pop when you buy 25 at a time.
- Don't waste money on incense. It supposably does something but I've never seen any tangible results while sitting down or walking.
- Make friends while playing the game. It's a social game. Say hi to people when you're sitting next to them while leeching off the same lure. Join Pokemon Go Facebook groups so you know what events are on. It's a lot funner when you're playing with people.
- Be helpful. No one person is an expert in everything. Everyone's a student. We're all still learning this game.
- Each suburb has different Pokemon. You gotta travel if you want to catch them all.
- I saved up my 10K eggs until I reached level 20. So when they hatched, the Pokemon are extremely high in CP (like my Snorlax). I've been told they don't hatch any higher if you're over level 20.
- Don't be afraid to use those Great Balls and Ultra Balls. Especially if it's for a Pokemon you NEED to catch. Same goes for the Berries.
- Don't fall in love with your starter Pokemon pick. You'll catcher higher level ones in no time.
- There's a few businesses around Australia offering solid discounts and free lures/charging stations. Take advantage of them if they're offering some worth your while.
- And finally and most importantly. Stay safe. Don't go catching Pokemon solo at night. Don't try battling a gym or catching Pokemon near a lure that's in the middle of nowhere. Look up every two seconds if you're playing while walking. Pokemon will always be there tomorrow. Some thing's aren't.
Now it's your turn. What level are you currently? Do you have any tips you want to share? I'd love to read them, and I'm sure many other players would too.
Matthew Wu is a tech and competitive gaming enthusiast. You can follow him on Twitter, where every second tweet is about Pokemon Go.