Things to know about Pokemon GO

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Pokemon GO, the ridiculously popular new mobile game, is officially out in Canada! By now you've probably seen people walking around in a zombie-like trance, eyes glued to their screen; there's a decent chance you're one of them yourself. Because I have low self-control, I was one of the many who got the game last week, and I've been reading up on the game constantly. But thanks to my irresponsibility, I can now share some important GO tips, so really, I did this all for you.

 

Campus is the best place to play

I cannot understate how perfect a university campus is to play Pokemon GO. For one thing, the game has to be constantly connected to the server, so if you're a data-less player, eduroam will let you go nearly everywhere on campus. But more than that, there are PokeStops (areas that give you items) everywhere, which we are spoiled to have. Players in more rural areas have to go kilometres to find Pokestops so that they don't run out of Poke Balls — meanwhile, I'm constantly struggling to make enough space in my bag (more on that later).

And on top of all that, there's lures everywhere, which makes finding Pokemon a cakewalk. I'm not quite sure how it's happening, but people are setting up lures at the SLC and the BMH green area practically non-stop. I don't know who you people are or how you have this much disposable income, but bless you.

While eventually you'll probably want to move off-campus to look for pokemon that show up in other areas, campus is a great place to start off and get your supplies, and always has surprises lying around — hell, I just caught a Blastoise on-campus the other day.

 

Data is king

As someone without data, good lord, this game really makes me wish I had it. Like I said, getting around on-campus is fine, but every night I return home to an area filled with Pokemon I can't reach and it haunts me. Even on-campus, certain areas like the BMH green can't really be reached if you don't have data.

So if you’ve got data, have at it. Apparently the game doesn't actually use up that much data, but don't get too carried away lest your next phone bill suffer. For those without data, maybe find a friend whose cup runneth over with generosity and/or a really good data plan and get them to hotspot for you so you can catch those rare Pokemon together.

 

Use items responsibly

A proper understanding of how items work is so important when trying to be the very best. The game will give you a lot of items without an in-depth explanation of how they work, so here are some important things to keep in mind:

You can spray incense around yourself to increase your chance of finding Pokemon for 30 minutes. However, casting incense when you're not moving is a waste — your appearance rate becomes drastically improved if you spray incense and keep moving. The best time to use it is when you have a half-hour to set aside catching Pokemon.

Razz berries are an item you can use to make Pokemon easier to catch — for an extremely limited time. Using a razz berry makes only the very next throw you make more likely to be successful, then it stops having an effect. That means if you run into a Pokemon you really want, you may want to be using razz berries between each throw.

In addition to your starting egg incubator, at different levels you can get extra incubators with a limited amount of usage. You can get the most mileage from them by using them to hatch 5- or 10-km eggs while relying on your first incubator (with unlimited uses) to hatch the smaller 2-km eggs.

Poke Balls are pretty straightforward, but they do have some tricks to them. For one thing, spinning the ball in one direction and then throwing it in the other will make it a curveball, which earns you +10 XP with every catch.

The more important mechanic to understand is the nice-great-excellent system, which can net you a lot of experience. If you hold a Poke Ball down before you throw it, you can see a circle appear around the Pokemon and begin to shrink. Landing your Poke Ball within this circle will make your throw count as “nice,” “great,” or “excellent,” depending on how small the circle has shrunk before you landed the throw. Nice catches are pretty easy since the circle's rather large, and they net you +10 XP, while great throws and excellent throws reward 50 XP and 100 XP, respectively. Getting a higher-quality throw doesn't seem to necessarily improve the likelihood of the Pokemon being caught, but it does give you a warm, fuzzy feeling.

Finally, make sure to be managing your bag for items. Your bag has a limit of 350 items, which can actually fill up really quickly if you make use of a lot of PokeStops. Battle items like potions and revives are probably the least useful, so you may want to remove some of those if you need extra space.

 

There's probably a lot we don't know

For a game that's grown so big, it seems like an oversight that Pokemon GO doesn't really explain things to players. A lot of the things we know now are only based on things players have experienced, but that means that there may be gameplay mechanics we don't fully understand yet. For example, maybe getting a great throw actually does increase the chance of a Pokemon being caught and I just haven't realized it.

The developers have also included at least a couple obscure Easter eggs that it's a wonder anyone found. For example, by ignoring the starter Pokemon and walking away a few times in the tutorial, you get the option to catch a Pikachu, and if you want your Eevee to evolve into a specific evolution, you just have to name it after one of the Pokemon owned by a trio of characters from the anime that I can't remember in the slightest. Weird, cool additions like this make me wary of the possibility that there are a lot of things hidden in this game that players will just have to figure out themselves.

 

Hopefully, this semi-exhaustive guide will be enough to get you started in the world of Pokemon GO, or improve your trainer skills. Good luck and safe hunting out there, fellow trainers!

Also, if anyone knows a good place to find Pikachu PLEASE let me know. 

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