15 tips and tricks to master 'Pokémon GO,' the hottest game in the world

Photo: Drew Angerer/ Getty Images.

The new “Pokémon” mobile game is here! We’ve been playing it non-stop since it launched on the iPhone App Store and Google Play earlier this week. In our time with “Pokémon GO” so far, we’ve had gobs of fun — sure — but we also have truckloads of questions.

So we took those questions and gathered as many answers as we could. Here are all the tips and tricks you should know to enjoy “Pokémon GO” as much as possible!

Catching Pokémon: What those circles mean!

Pokemon Go/Tech Insider

You've found a Pokémon! Now what? When the game enters capture mode, you'll see a wild Pokémon juxtaposed into real life through your phone's camera. You've got Pokéballs to throw at it, and there's a coloured ring circling the Pokémon's body. What's going on here?

Here's the deal: the smaller that ring is, the more likely you are to capture that Pokémon. Throwing your Pokéball carefully is important, as you don't want to waste a bunch of them whiffing shots.

This becomes much more important as you progress in the game, and wild Pokémon are less likely to be captured simply by having a Pokéball thrown at them.

What do the colours of the circle mean?

Pokemon Go/Tech Insider

The colour of the ring when catching Pokémon tells you how hard it is to capture said Pokémon.

-Green = Easy

-Yellow = Moderate

-Red = Difficult

The more difficult the Pokémon is to catch, the less likely it is to be caught simply by throwing a Pokéball at it. Good news: There are special Pokéballs you'll earn as your Trainer levels up, and these are much more likely to capture rarer Pokémon. You can also use berries to lull the wild Pokémon into a false sense of security before -- WHAM! -- snatching them up in a Pokéball.

What those rustling leaves mean on your map: There's a Pokémon there!

The Pokemon Company

Seeing rustling leaves on your map? That's not just artistic flair -- it's an indication that a wild Pokémon is nearby! What kind of Pokémon? It's never totally clear, but you can get a good idea of what it is based on the menu in the lower right of the main screen.

What's that Pokémon menu about on the main screen?

The Pokemon Company

Beyond just showing you which Pokémon are in your general area, it also tells you how close they are to you. See those footprints below each silhouette? Those indicate how near you are to each, and their placement in the list also indicates which is closest. The first one is the closest one to you!

One footprint is relatively close -- a short walk -- while several footprints means you may have a bit of a hike before finding that particular pocket monster.

Finding a lot of duplicates? Send them to Dr. Willow!

The Pokemon Company

Remember that fashionable doctor who serves as the premise for the entirety of 'Pokémon GO?' His name is Dr. Willow, and he wants your Pokémon. The good news is you're going to catch a lot of duplicates. And those duplicates can then be transferred to Dr. Willow by selecting them in the Pokémon menu (click the Pokéball, then click the Pokémon submenu), scrolling down, and selecting 'Transfer.'

For your gift, Dr. Willow will hook you up with some candy for that Pokémon. And that candy can be used to make your Pokémon stronger, or to evolve them!

Tired of duplicates? Go out at night!

The type of Pokémon you're finding vary by location -- water-type Pokémon are more likely to appear near water, for instance -- but they also vary depending on the time of day. Simply put: Going out at night and playing 'Pokémon GO' increases your chances of finding nocturnal Pokémon!

Stuck at work? Attract Pokémon with incense!

The Pokemon Company

If you're stuck in an office or classroom all day (ahem), unable to explore the world and find wild Pokémon, there's a solution: bring them to you! Simply click the Pokéball at the bottom of the screen to bring up the menu, and select the 'Items' circle. From there you can select incense and place it as you like! Then all you have to do is sit back and wait for those wild and crazy Pokémon to come to you. You'll know it's working because your Trainer will show a purple cloud swirling around them.

Tired of wasting Pokéballs trying to capture wild Pokémon? Turn off the AR camera to make it MUCH easier!

The Pokemon Company

When you encounter a Pokémon, you tap on it and your phone's camera turns on. Suddenly, there's a wild Pokémon in the actual world in front of you (according to your phone). And that Pokémon is getting WILD, running/flying/flopping all over the place, making them harder to capture. But if you click the little switch in the upper right corner of your screen that says 'AR,' it will switch the game's camera from your phone's camera to a virtual camera in a virtual world (seen above). It's less impressive-looking, no doubt, but it's MUCH easier to catch the Pokémon in that virtual world. They remain centered, and throwing the Pokéball at them is far easier.

Levelling Up: So you wanna battle in gyms...

The Pokemon Company
The gym at Madison Square Park shames me.

There's no way to battle in gyms -- the places on your map with the massive Pokémon hovering over them, that look like some sort of futuristic cone -- without getting to level five. So, how's best to get there quickly?

Some quick tips:

-Tap on every PokéStop you can. When they're blue, they have items in them, and you get a little bit of experience, which helps out a ton in the early goings. You can return to Pokéstops over and over, and they flip over pretty quickly (about five minutes as far as we can tell).

-As you walk around, you may feel your phone vibrate. That means a Pokémon is near! Tap it, swipe to throw a Poké Ball at it, and it's yours. You'll get a lot of experience for doing this, so do it as often as possible.

-If you feel like spending money, you can use it to buy Lucky Eggs from the in-game store. A Lucky Egg will double the amount of experience you get for 30 minutes, so if you have one, use it before you start doing all of the above.

Revisit Pokéstops!

The Pokemon Company

Every player stars with a few items: some Pokéballs, and a few pieces of incense.

Not all Pokéstops are created equal.

The Pokemon Company

Some Pokéstops are more notable than others, and those will net you some sweeter items than the usual handful of Pokéballs. These tend to correlate with actual landmarks. The more well-known a Pokéstop's actual landmark is, the more likely it is to be a more lucrative stop for you. Some Pokéstops look like they're raining on your map, and that's because another player has installed a module on it. That module attracts Pokémon and gets you better stuff from said Pokéstop. (Modules can be purchased in the in-game store using Pokécoins.)

Transfer your extra Pokémon to Professor Willow, and he'll give you some sweet XP!

The Pokemon Company

I keep catching Horsea. I can't help it. So what I'm doing every time I get one is instantly transfering them to Professor Willow, who gives me a Horsea Candy (used to evolve said Pokémon) and some XP. And the more XP I have, the faster I level up. And the faster I level up, the faster I get to level five and can go to gyms to battle other Trainers!

What the heck are these eggs about?

The Pokemon Company

Stopped at a Pokéstop and got a bunch of eggs? What's that about? Simple! Click the Pokéball on the bottom of the screen and select the Pokémon bubble. When you've opened that, swipe to the right to go to your eggs menu. There they are! Tap one and it will bring up a menu that offers one option: 'Start Incubation.' As it turns out, the eggs are filled with Pokémon embryos, slowly evolving into standard Pokémon.

Rather than being time-based, the incubator is based on how far you've walked. Beware! Walking is only registered when you have the app open. So maybe start some incubation right before a long Pokémon hunting walk.

And what's the deal with 'CP?'

The Pokemon Company

If you're new to 'Pokémon GO' -- which, ya know, it came out this week -- you probably don't need to worry too much about CP just yet. BUT, if you're wondering, it's an acronym for 'combat power.' Essentially it's a measure of how tough your Pokémon is when facing off against other Pokémon in a gym battle. The more poweful your Trainer is, the higher the CP of your Pokémon will be. You can also increase CP by 'powering up' your Pokémon (select the Pokémon and select 'power up' in the menu).

When you reach level five you can join teams, battle in gyms, and begin the REAL game.

The Pokemon Company

Getting close to level five? Blown past it already? Now the real game begins. You're able to join one of the game's three teams, and with those teams you're able to take over gyms. The longer your team holds a gym, the more stuff you'll earn. How do you 'hold' a gym? By guarding it with your most powerful Pokémon, of course!

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