How do you track nearby Pokémon in Pokémon Go? Not with radar, sadly. But there’s another way.
I’ve spent the last day becoming thoroughly engrossed in the magic of Pokemon Go, Niantic’s new augmented reality game. To play, you create an account, then physically walk around your neighborhood to “find” nearby Pokémon.
But how exactly do you track your nearby future pals? Niantic’s software is annoyingly opaque, with blinking radar both around you and the Pokémon creature bar that can easily mislead you into walking the wrong way. Here’s what I’ve learned in my short time as a Trainer.
How to find nearby Pokémon
Once you’ve set up the game and started walking, you’ll notice a small grey box on the screen to the right of your virtual avatar which displays a few Pokémon shapes (or filled in avatars, if you’ve already caught those critters).
Tap that grey box, and you’ll be presented with a group of nine Pokémon in your local area.
Those creatures all have little footprint markings underneath their avatars or shapes: one footprint means you’re very close; two footprints means you’re on the right track; and three footprints means they’re outside your immediate vicinity, but you’ll likely find them if you start walking in the right direction.
You can select a specific Pokémon to track by tapping on one; when you return to your map, that critter is now selected in the grey box. Unfortunately, Niantic doesn’t offer any sort of overt directional tracking system from here: You won’t know if you’re hot or cold in this view unless the Pokémon you’re tracking goes from three footprints to two.
But there is a better way: If you keep that window of all nearby Pokémon open, the list will automatically update as you move from place to place. Pokémon that are closer to the direction you’re moving will slide up to the top-left corner; critters that are further away will move to the bottom right, and eventually off the list.
You can use these metrics to figure out if you’re going the right way for a three-footprint Pokémon: Select it, then start walking in any direction. If your quarry drops further down the list, you then know you’re going in the wrong direction. If they float to the top, you’re going the right way.
This takes some trial and error, to be sure, and it’s not the most elegant way Niantic could have let us catch Pokémon, but hey — it adds some fun and mystery to the catching experience. At least we don’t have to risk real-world ticks to walk around aimlessly in tall grass until we encounter a Pokémon.
What the radar rings mean
When you walk in the real world, you also walk in Pokémon Go. As you do, a small grey-purple radar ring emanates from your virtual person. This radar ring is, essentially, your “reach” in discovering nearby Pokémon.
This is also what allows you to catch Pokémon without having to enter restricted buildings, like police stations: Once your Pokémon is within zero steps, you can walk up to the property and let your radar rings bring the critter out of hiding.
There’s also a little green radar box that emanates from the Nearby Pokémon list: Contrary to what some are saying, this doesn’t indicate that you’re getting closer to a nearby Pokémon. Instead, it lets the user know that the list of nearby Pokémon is updating: This can mean that your quarry has shifted closer to you… but it can also mean that they’ve fallen further behind.
Essentially, if you see this box blink, it’s worth checking your full list to see how your tracking is proceeding. You never know what might pop up on that nearby list!
How to find rare or evolved Pokémon
Though most of your evolved Pokémon get that way from being fed special candy, you can catch evolved versions of your creatures — and rare Pokémon, too! Here’s the deal.
Rare Pokémon tend to hang out in specific places and at specific times. Like the original game, you’ll have a much better time trying to catch a Clefairy or Drowzee in the evening times; similarly, you’ll find element-based Pokémon close to the real-world version of their element.
Evolved Pokémon tend to hang out in the same area as their unevolved counterparts, but they’re much rarer to come across. Keep checking your Nearby Pokémon radar!
Remember, also, that rarer Pokémon with higher CP (creature power) will be more of a pain to catch; high-level creatures may have an orange glowing circle around them rather than the green one when you attempt to capture them, and it may take several Pokeball throws before they stay inside. (Sadly, unlike the original game, you can’t weaken them with your fellow Pokémon; the only way to weaken them is to repeatedly catch them in Pokeballs until they stop fighting.)
Still confused on how to track and find Pokémon? Let us know below.