There are tons of videos out there describing how to play Pokémon GO. This is a simple, text-based tutorial / cheatsheet that gets you all the main points in a single, easy-to-read list.
The game is about collecting Pokemon. In later stages of the game you fight them against other Pokemon.
When you start you can pick between three Pokemon; if you don’t select one of them and you walk away from your starting location 4 times, Pikachu will appear and you’ll get him.
You capture Pokemon by throwing balls at them. The balls are containers that land on them and capture them inside. You then own that Pokemon (unless he escapes).
The easiest way to do this is to lob the ball up into the air (pushing your finger up quickly) to throw the ball in the air so it lands on its head
When you capture a Pokemon you get two things: Stardust and Candy. Stardust is like a universal resource, but the Candy you get is specific to the Pokemon you caught.
You use Stardust and Candy to level-up or evolve your Pokemon later in the game.
Blue Circles are Pokestops, which are around landmarks and restaurants and such. When you click on one, and you see the circle, spin it from side to side and stuff will drop out of it. These refresh every few minutes so you can come back later.
The items that drop out of Pokestops can be used later when you do combat between your Pokemon and other peoples’ in Gyms
Different areas have different Pokémon. Travel further away from your local area to find Pokémon you might have not seen before.
Geographical area attract different type of Pokémon. For example, Water-type Pokémon are near bodies of water.
Finding and catching Pokemon
As you move around you will see lots of different icons on the map. If you see rustling in the grass, that’s likely a Pokemon that’s about to jump out. Get ready to catch it.
If you pull up your Nearby map (bottom right), you’ll see a list of shadows representing nearby Pokemon.
The Pokemon closest to you are in the top left of the map, and they have no footprints under them. The ones with two or three footprints are further away (more steps to get them).
[ NOTE: Currently having issues. ]
As you walk around, you can watch that map. If you see something with no footprints, they’re extremely close to you and you should look for it and catch it.
[ NOTE: Currently having issues. ]
Advancing your Pokemon
Feed your Pokemon Stardust and their type of Candy to make them more powerful, which will increase their CP.
It gets increasingly more difficult to raise their CP level.
CP level helps you defeat other Pokemon in combat.
The advanced part of the game starts at level 5 when you can join one of three teams and enter Gyms.
Gyms are the giant spinny skyscraper looking things that you see on the map, usually with a Pokemon on the top of it.
The level of Gym reflects how many Pokémon can be added to the Gym (from the same team).
If the Gym is of an opposing team, combat is between 6 of your Pokémon and all Pokémon in the Gym.
If the Gym is of the same team, your single Pokémon is pitted against all Pokémon in the Gym.
You do combat with other Pokémon by tapping quickly on the screen.
You swipe side to side to dodge.
You press and hold to do your special attack.
In general, the stronger Pokémon will win, but if you don’t dodge and attack you can still lose to a weaker creature.
Each Pokémon type has strength and weakness versus other Pokémon type (e.g. Water type are strong against Fire type)
Gray Gyms are not owned by anyone. You can enter a Pokémon there and take control of it for your team, but it’ll likely get removed by a stronger force relatively soon.
If a Gym is colored, that color represents the team that has control of it.
Teamwork is a good thing for the combat.
After combat you will need to refresh your Pokémon with potions and revive tokens.
Your Pokémon’s CP is its Combat Power, and they go up by feeding it Candy.
When you battle to take over a Gym of an opposing team you have to knock down the prestige level of the opposing team that owns the Gym.
When you battle a Gym of your same team any Pokémon you win against adds prestige to the gym.
Lowering or raising the prestige of the Gym will lower or raise the level it.
Once you get the prestige down of an opposing team’s Gym to 0, you have to enter your own Pokémon there or else someone might steal the Gym you just earned.
One you raises the prestige level of the same team’s Gym you can add your own Pokémon to the Gym.
At higher level you will get GreatBalls and UltraBalls that will make it easier to catch them.
You can also get Rasberries to feed difficult Pokémon so they’re easier to catch (after you make them your friend). :(
You can use Incense to attract Pokémon to your location for half an hour. The rate is approx. 1 Pokémon every few minutes.
You can also create Lures that bring in mad Pokémon to a Pokéstop. Other people will see the Lure and will come there as well, so be ready.
Lucky Eggs doubles the experience gained for 30 minutes for any activities that earn you exp.
Egg Incubator are used to hatch eggs which turn into various random Pokémon. Eggs are hatched in an incubator by walking various distances. (< 15mph so driving them around won’t work)
Eggs are one of the items gained at Pokéstops. Clicking on an Egg in your inventory will allow you to start incubating one.
Eggs are listed under Pokémon under a separate tab (swipe left) and are categorized by the amount of distance it takes to hatch them (2, 5 or 10 km)
The more distance required to hatch an egg the rarer the Pokémon hatched tends to be.
You can purchase additional Egg Incubators from the shop to hatch an additional egg at the same time.
[ NOTE: There have been people being attacked, robbed, etc. at Lure points, so be safe when going to out-of-the-way Pokestops and Lure locations. ]
Touch Pokéball to Start
There are advanced ways to throw Pokeballs. Instead of just flicking your finger up to lob the ball, you can also spin your ball fast before you throw it, and then when you throw it it’ll curve.
If you click and hold the Pokeball, you’ll see the rings appear around the Pokémon.
The rings around the Pokémon are the area you have to hit with your Pokeball to capture the Pokémon. The more accurate you are the better, i.e., it’s better to use fewer balls to capture a Pokémon
There are also accuracy bonuses for the rings. The rings actually move within each other–the inside and outside. When the inside ring is perfectly centered inside the outer one, that’s when you make the most points. If it’s off-center, you make fewer.
The points are 100 for regular, 50 for close to center, and 100 for the rings being centered.
The circles are green when they’re easy, yellow when hard, and red when really hard.
For advanced targeting at high levels, wait until the Pokémon stops its move routine before you land your shot. It should be landing right as it finishes its movement.
Capturing Pokémon get increasingly difficult as they go up in CP, and they also get harder to keep in the balls.
Rarer Pokémon (e.g. Pikachu, Charmander, Squirtle, etc.) tend to be more difficult to catch as well.
The in-game way to earn currency (Pokecoins) by controlling Gyms, but you can also purchase them through micro payments.
Notes and tips
Consider buying a battery pack. It’ll be super helpful if you’re out and about and run low on power.
Like I said in the text, be sure to watch yourself when exploring strange places. Have buddies. Make sure there are people around. Etc.
I’ll be adding more advanced tips soon!