From Bulbapedia, the community-driven Pokémon encyclopedia.
Welcome to the world of Pokémon GO! Chances are you knew something about Pokémon before you picked up this game. Maybe you've even played some of the main games that have long formed the core of the series. But Pokémon GO isn't quite like its originators.
First, what sorts of things can you do in Pokémon GO?
- You can find and catch Pokémon out in the world!
- You can use your Pokémon to battle at Gyms!
This may sound a little familiar if you've played any of the main Pokémon games. However, unlike the core games where advancement has generally been strongly linked with making Pokémon stronger by battling them, in Pokémon GO, advancement is instead very strongly tied to walking around and finding and catching more Pokémon. The resources you need to grow your Pokémon and successfully challenge Gyms primarily come from the fruits of your Pokémon-catching endeavors! In fact, you won't even be able to visit a Gym—the only place you can actually battle—until you've reached Trainer level 5! Until then, most of what you'll be doing is catching Pokémon.
About Pokémon GO
In this section, let's throw down a bit about what Pokémon GO kind of is, just in case there's some things you're not sure about.
A free-to-download game. Download! Start playing! Right away, no strings attached! ...In-app purchases are possible, but shouldn't ever be necessary.
An augmented reality game. This means you'll be out, exploring the real world, and here or there the game will throw things at you! This also means a couple other things... You're out in the REAL WORLD! The short version: pay attention to what's around you and don't get too caught up in the game. Be mindful or your surroundings, both for your own and others' safety, and be respectful of the people who will be around you.
Pokémon GO is still being rolled out, so it is not available in every country yet.
How do you get Pokémon GO?? First things first, you might want to check Niantic's basic description of supported devices. If you pass muster there, the next thing you can do is try visiting the official Pokémon GO site. Right about at the top, on the right, you should either see a couple links to the App Store or Google Play with an "Available Now" notice above them, or just a notice that says something like "Coming Soon". If necessary, you can scroll to the bottom of the page and try clicking "Select your region" if you've somehow ended up on the wrong region's page. The App Store or Google Play page will also have more information about requirements for you to install the game and basic info about its contents, so be sure to pay attention there like you would when purchasing any game.
Keep in mind that Pokémon GO is still a relatively new game. This means there may be certain issues with the game. The issue that you might want to consider closest is the potential for the game to drain your phone's battery. What's more, Pokémon GO has been pretty popular, and as a new game with a massive player base, this may mean that at times your game will have trouble communicating with GO's servers.
Starting the game
You've installed the game! And now you're running it for the first time.
When you first start Pokémon GO, you'll be asked to sign in with either a Google account or a Pokémon Trainer Club account. Either is free to create if you don't have one. If you want, you'll also be able to sign out of that account and start over on a new one, but you may want to beware that Niantic considers playing with more than one account cheating, so be careful how you tread...
Meet the Professor
First, Professor Willow will introduce himself to you and recruit you to help with his research, much like every Pokémon Professor in pretty much every Pokémon game. Then you'll be able to pick your avatar (male or female) and customize its appearance a bit (skin, hair, eyes, and outfit...mostly colors, no really drastic differences). Don't stress about your choices too much though, you'll always be able to come back and change this later.
Catch a Pokémon
Once you've sorted out your avatar, Professor Willow will pop up again to inform you there's a Pokémon nearby and give you some Poké Balls so you can catch it. It's time for you to catch your "starter Pokémon"! This doesn't necessarily mean quite as much in Pokémon GO as it does in other Pokémon games, but you still won't be able to do anything else with the game until you've caught one of them.
So, sitting right by you on the screen, just waiting to be caught, you'll see Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle. But! If you walk away from these three Pokémon four times (each time you go "too far" away, they'll respawn around you on the screen), Pikachu will appear on the fifth time! Either way, sooner or later you'll have to make a choice here. Once you do choose one of the Pokémon, the game will ask if you want to use your camera to view the battle in augmented reality, but this is entirely optional (and, as a practical matter, a pretty trivial difference).
From here, the game simply throws you into the deep end for your first encounter. You can give it the old college try with some trial and error if that's your style, or you can check out the guide for catching Pokémon in Pokémon GO so you'll know exactly what you need to do to catch your first Pokémon.
After catching your first Pokémon, you'll be asked to choose a nickname for yourself in Pokémon GO. But if another Pokémon GO player has already chosen your desired nickname, you'll need to come up with a new one!
Check out a PokéStop
After you've chosen your nickname, Professor Willow will tell you about PokéStops, where you can find items like Poké Balls. He'll then leave you with the task of visiting a nearby PokéStop. At this point, you're pretty much off the leash, but until you actually find a PokéStop, the game will occasionally remind you about it.
Off the rails!
You've at least got your starter! Maybe you've even visited a PokéStop. Now just get out there and explore!
If you want, you can do nothing but walk around and find and catch Pokémon forever (more or less). You can visit PokéStops and find items there, maybe even some Eggs you can also hatch into Pokémon!
If you want to battle at Gyms, first you'll need to raise your Trainer level to at least level 5. You'll also want to grow some of your Pokémon so they'll be able to more easily challenge and defend Gyms.
And please, remember to always STAY SAFE and respect others. Having a buddy around can be helpful. Also, try not to let Pokémon GO completely drain your phone just in case you need to use it to make a call.