If you’re reading this, you’re probably just as hopelessly lost in Pokémon GO addiction as I am. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I’ve probably never been this obsessed with a free-to-play mobile game before and although it could all end up being one giant fad that we all tire of in a month; right now, Pokémon GO is a downright cultural obsession.
If you’ve spent even a little time with the game over the past week or so, you know that it’s far from perfect. In addition to intense server issues that continue to delay its release in multiple territories around the globe, Pokémon GO also does a poor job of explaining vital information to players. It’s easy enough to discover the basics of catching Pokémon and figuring out how PokéStops and Gyms work, but one area that many players are likely puzzled by is how tracking “nearby” Pokémon works. Fortunately, Paul Tassi over at Forbes has been playing the game religiously and has written some extremely helpful tips about this very issue (I also encourage you to read some of his other work because it’s stellar.)
Here are the most important things you need to know about tracking Pokémon in Pokémon GO.
5. Lures And Incenses Don’t Attract “Nearby” Pokemon
In Pokémon GO, you can get Pokemon to come to you by placing lures and incenses, which is especially handy if you really don’t feel like partaking in the “GO” aspect of the game’s design. You would think that the Pokémon that show up on the Nearby list would be the ones that come closer to you when you use these items, but it turns out that this is not the case. For whatever reason, lures and incense hardly ever attract these specific Pokémon; instead, these items seem to spawn their own Pokémon separate from the ones on the Nearby list.
This means that you can end up getting different Pokémon from the ones you keep seeing pop up near you (which can be a really good thing if you’re stuck in a sea of Pidgeys and Rattatas) but it also means that if you see something rare pop-up on your Nearby list, you’re going to have to go track them yourself because chances are, those lures and incenses aren’t bringing them any closer to you.
4. Order Matters
A maximum of nine Pokémon can be in the Nearby grid at once and while it may seem like this group is just a random assortment of creatures in your general area, their order in the grid actually matters a lot. To clarify: the Pokémon in the top left corner are closest to you and the one in the bottom right is furthest away (see below for an illustration). This ordering holds true even if every Pokémon in the grid has a distance of three footprints, although the Pokémon in the bottom right are the most likely to drop off the grid if you get too far away.
3. Don’t Close The Grid
It can be tempting when tracking a nearby Pokémon to tap the one you’re after and then close the grid, but as it turns out, you definitely want to keep that grid open while tracking. Why? Well, you need to keep track of where that Pokémon’s position is in the grid, as you won’t know whether it’s getting closer or further away from you with the grid closed. It may seem jarring at first to rely on the grid for tracking instead of the GPS map, but all you really need to do is head straight in any direction; if the Pokémon you’re looking for’s footprint count drops, you know you’re on the right track; if it increases, adjust accordingly by picking a new direction. Rinse and repeat.
2. Getting Under Three Footprints Is Key
This may seem obvious, but it can’t be overstated how important it is to get a Pokémon’s footprint count under three. The problem with the three footprint count is that it’s a pretty vague estimation of distance, but if a Pokémon gets to two or under, it means that they are VERY close to you. The actual distance that any of these numbers actually represent is still unknown, but according to Tassi, any Pokémon that appears on the grid are no more than a city block or two away, even if they’re at the bottom of the list. The problem is that those Pokémon aren’t always going to wait patiently for you to find them …
1. Pokemon Will Move
One thing that can make tracking Pokémon extra difficult, especially when it comes to the ones at the bottom of the grid, is that they will actually movie around. Fortunately, it seems that we move quicker than Pokémon do, as it’s actually difficult to outright lose one you’re tracking properly, unless a technical glitch causes them to disappear (which is certainly a very real possibility given the game’s current glitchy form).
Hopefully, these tips have helped you get more of a handle on tracking and how the “Nearby” system works, as the game doesn’t go out of its way to explain either very well. Again, I have to thank Paul Tassi for reporting this invaluable information. Now, get out there and catch ’em all!