It's here! Pokemon Go has landed in the UK after an agonising few days' wait. But why is everyone so excited? Here's what you need to know.
It’s here. After filling up more than its fair share of news feeds and meme generators around the web for the last week, Pokemon Go is finally available to download on iOS and Android phones right now.
The game, which will see you take to the streets to capture the infamous pocket monsters using your phone as an augmented reality viewer, has already topped app charts in the US and select other countries, not to mention adding billions to Nintendo’s stock market value. And now you can get your hands on it. But whilst it’s downloading, here’s a few quickfire facts to help you get going…
Everything you need to know
Pokemon Go: What is it?
At it’s most simple? An Augmented Reality game for you phone. But it’s so much more than that for gaming fans. The basic aim of Pokemon Go is to walk around town collecting the titular monsters; when the app detects that there’s a Pokemon nearby you’ll be prompted to hold your phone up to scan your surroundings.
Then, using your phone’s camera, Pokemon Go will augment an animated cartoon Pokemon onto your real life surroundings, at which point your task becomes to whip digital Pokeballs with your finger to try and capture it.
Pokemon Go: What’s the aim?
Catch ‘em all, naturally! Currently, Pokemon Go features the full roster of generation 1 Pokemon (that’s the gameboy era for those who can’t remember that far back). The genius part is that as you visit different places you’ll start to find different breeds. Water Pokemon hang around near bodies of water, for instance, while grass species stick to fields.
Ok, so what about evolving? It’s pretty straightforward: each Pokemon you capture will have come with an evolution shard and you’ll need a set amount of these to raise yours up to the next level, which you do that by catching that many of the same kind. So, for example, Pikachu needs 15 shards to become Raichu. Collecting more of the same Pokemon is also how you raise their CP (Combat Power), which will come in handy when it comes to taking on other trainers.
But it’s not just the Pokemon who evolve. The more Pokemon you catch, the more you traverse the real world with the app open, and the more you do in the game, the more you’ll level up, too. Reach level 5 and you’ll be able to choose a faction from three options: red, blue or yellow. And once you’re in a faction, you can start taking on trainers at Pokemon Gyms.
Pokemon Go: Gyms
Pokemon Gyms are specially designated places set up for trainers to do battle at. Each Gym will have a faction in control of it at any given time, with a version of its strongest Pokemon ready to battle any and all takers. Battles work a bit like they do in the original games, although with attacks simplified to a few taps and swipes. If you can topple the best they’ve got, your faction can swoop in and own that Gym. Or, if your faction already has control, you can enter into friendly battles to try and level up your horde.
Gyms are mostly mapped to real world places of interest, like museums, churches, tourist attractions and train stations, although there have been stories breaking this week about people’s homes being randomly designated a Gym, which is a good way to get your geraniums trampled on.
Pokemon Go: Future updates
There are a couple of big extra features fans really want to see implemented soon, and they’re ones we hope will be baked into the app before too long. First on the wish list is a more open battle system, which would let trainers battle friends online or via NFC without having to stick to the Gyms.
The second would be trading. Got too many Pidgeots? A pal of yours might be on the hunt for them in exchange for one of their Zubats. There’s no official word on if or when these features will make it into the app (or if Nintendo will want to cannibalise the main Pokemon franchise this way), but we’ve got our fingers crossed.