I’ve spent time in the Pokémon Go and wanted to clarify a few things about the game mechanics:
This game requires an iOS or Android device with GPS. The whole of the game depends on real world travel. I expect to lose a couple pounds by making a point to walk around more with my phone out…
This game is meant for people who are walking quite a bit each day. You can experience most of the features just by driving around (please don’t drive and Pokémon!) but it looks like the Egg mechanic only works at a human walking speed. I can confirm that sitting in traffic will count as walking distance.
RAM and battery get eaten up on Android from my experience. You need to keep the game open in order for distance covered to count (at least currently).
Nintendo/Niantic will be releasing a “Pokémon GO PLUS” Bluetooth pin/bracelet with a teardrop shaped Pokeball. You can use this to capture Pokémon and likely check in at PokeStops without having to take out your phone. This accessory and more information about it will be released in late July. This should allow you to perform most actions in the game without taking out your phone (you will need your phone within range to use this!).
Setting up your character is a one time event. I haven’t found a way to edit my characters design, name, or color pallet without having to clear my data and start over.
Capturing Pokémon consists of finding them on the map, selecting them, then swiping the Pokeball up at them. You may miss, the Pokémon may deflect the ball, or it may even run away. Better Pokeballs will improve your chances of catching a Pokémon. There is an item (fruit? berries?) which can be fed to wild Pokémon that is supposed to improve your chances of catching the Pokémon.
It looks like they can adjust the Pokémon location appearance on the fly, and will adjust it for special events or legendary Pokémon releases. Starters should be found in the wild as well, but your luck may vary.
Pokémon are improved (not the same as leveling, a mechanic missing in this game) via their associated “Pokecandy”. You get these by transferring Pokémon to the professor. A Bulbasaur will give you a Bulbasaur candy, an Pidgey a Pidgey candy (evolutions will drop more of the base level candy I think). You can either use them to power up the Pokémon (generally one or two candy, plus Stardust) and this caps based on your player level. If you collect enough Pokecandy you can evolve the Pokémon to their next form.
Unfortunately I’m not sure if the most efficient way to gain CP (capture points, I believe related to their power when fighting) and make it a more power Pokémon in battles is by evolving ASAP or maxing their power up.
Best practice is to capture many of a individual type of Pokemon, compare their stats, then mark the one you want to use and transfer the rest into Pokecandy to power up or evolve the one you keep. You can find evolved forms in the wild, and these seem to have more Pokecandy and Stardust. You should always capture when possible as Pokeballs are easy to get (see below about Pokestops) and this is currently the main method to get Stardust.
You should check in at PokeStops as frequently as possible. Select the icon after you are nearby (it should increase in size and transform a bit), swipe the image, and items will appear. This is easy experience and gives you free items (mostly Pokeballs and eggs). If there is one you frequent you may want to buy a Lure module which can ben installed at a location and increase encounter rates for you and others there.
Speaking of buying items, this is done with Pokecoins. This is why the game is free to play. The rate is essentially 1 PokeCoin per penny (in USD), with better deals in larger packs.
Items include Pokeballs (used in catching Pokémon; don’t buy these, you get for free from PokeStops), Incense (will lure Pokémon to your location for 30 minutes), Lucky Egg (will increase your experience for 30 minutes, may not include gym battle experience), Lure Modules (described above, last 30 minutes), Egg Incubators (allow you to hatch eggs, limited use), Bag and Storage upgrade (yes, you have limits on how many items or Pokémon you can have on hand).
Trading is not yet available but a rumored feature.
You can only fight gyms once you reach level 5. You won’t be able to join a team (YELLOW, BLUE, RED) until them. Your team determines two things:
which gyms you’ll be able to fight vs send Pokémon to defend.
A “leveling” path. Each color will either help you create pokemon with better stats or assist in your own leveling (I’m investigating)
Yellow: Walking to hatch creates better Pokémon.
Blue: evolving creates better Pokémon.
Red: battling (at gyms only for now) creates better Pokémon.
I’m not sure if “creates better pokemon” should be replaced with “Let’s the player level faster” or not.
Via Seribii as of 7/8/2016
Battling only occurs in Gyms (though in person battles are a rumored future feature). Battling is basic, and consists of press for basic attack, press and hold for special attack, and swipe to dodge.
When you send a Pokémon to defend a gym you won’t be able to recall it until it is defeated.
Information gained from observations and: