At the core of the game is, of course, catching Pokémon. Here’s everything you need to know to catch ’em all.

Catch a Pikachu: Like the original games, when you start playing Pokémon Go, you can choose one of three Pokémon as your first companion: Bulbasaur, Charmander, or Squirtle. But there’s a hidden fourth option, too: Pikachu. To get a Pikachu, you just need a little patience. You have to ignore the first three Pokémon presented to you by Professor Willow and simply walk away. The three Pokémon will follow you around for a bit and then disappear before reappearing. Do this four times, and a Pikachu will eventually show up. Then you capture it. Catching Pikachu doesn’t appear to have a strategic advantage, since you’ll likely encounter stronger ones later on, but why miss an opportunity to hang out from the outset?


Find nearby Pokémon: To see what Pokémon are lurking nearby, look at the bottom-right corner of your screen. Clicking that menu will show outlines of up to nine nearby Pokémon, along with one to three footprints underneath each of them. The fewer footprints there are, the closer the Pokémon is. The Pokémon in this menu are also sorted by distance. The one on the top-left is closest to you while the one on the bottom-right is farthest.


How to throw a Pokéball: Unlike the original games, you don’t battle wild Pokémon in Go. Instead, you jump straight to capturing them, which really just means flicking a Pokéball on your phone screen at a Pokémon. Toss it too near or too far, and the Pokéball won’t do anything. You have to get it just right by actually hitting the Pokémon. When you press on a Pokéball, a ring shows up around the Pokémon. A green ring means the Pokémon is easy to catch, while a red one means it’s tougher to catch. The rings also change in size as you hold down a Pokéball. Your odds are improved, especially for harder-to-catch Pokémon, if the ring is smaller when you release the Pokéball.


Throw a curve ball: Curve balls aren’t just stylish, they also increase a player’s experience points if the technique results in a capture. To initiate a curve ball, move your finger in small circles on the screen while touching the ball and then toss it. It’s still unclear if curveballs actually increase the chances of capturing a Pokémon, though they do definitely give you an XP bonus. Some players say that’s the case, while others report it’s harder.

Supercharged Pokéballs: Once players surpass level 11, they’ll start to collect Great Balls and Ultra Balls at PokéStops, which are more effective at capturing wild Pokémon, particularly the rarer ones.

Turn off AR: Turning off the camera (the augmented-reality layer) has helped some players capture Pokémon more successfully. With AR off, Pokémon are shown in the middle of the screen, making them easier targets. It’s less fun, though.

Lure out Pokémon: The items Incense and Lure Module draw Pokémon out from hiding. The Lure Module is more potent and can be attached to a specific location for a period of time. A PokéStop with an attached Lure Module is marked by fluttering pink petals. Lure Modules make PokéStops good places to find and catch Pokémon. As you wander around, you’ll see Lure Modules put down by other players, and you’ll probably see lots of other people hanging around them.

Catch ’em all: In Pokémon Go, quantity is key. You might not want a whole flock of Zubats, but there’s strength in numbers—or more specifically Stardust and Candy. When you capture Pokémon, you’ll receive both items, which are used, respectively, to power up and evolve Pokémon. Stardust can be used on any of your Pokémon, but the kind of Candy you get is specific to the species (e.g., you get Zubat Candy when you capture a Zubat). Generally, you get about 5 to 10 pieces of Candy when you catch the first of a species and then 3 to 5 for subsequent catches. You also get a piece of Candy when you transfer a Pokémon to Professor Willow.

Pokédex: The Pokédex, which you access by tapping the Pokéball on the main screen, keeps track of your Pokémon and shows how many species you’ve yet to encounter. For species of Pokémon you’ve seen and caught, the Pokédex will show detailed information, including its weight, height, type, and evolutionary chain (e.g., Charmander evolves into Charmeleon, which evolves into Charizard).