Tips for Pokemon Go in London!
(Update: Some of the nest locations and other info we present here is no longer entirely accurate after recent updates to the game. Sorry!)
After an amazing release in select parts of the world like the US, where it set a ton of records, and surpassed hugely popular apps and games in both revenue, users and activity, Pokemon Go is finally out in the UK! Thanks to some region lock workarounds we've already been playing it for nearly a week, and so far it's we love it. It's a dream come true for so many who have played with the core games over the last 20 years, and we're utterly addicted already.
We're going to skip the basic guide stuff, and focus on our experiences so far, and some specific tips for those of you based in London.
1. Environment matters
Supposedly all Pokemon can be caught anywhere, but it seems like your location can influence your chance at finding specific ones. We live and work in the Docklands region in East London, and about 50% of our encounters are water Pokemon. While we get the common Ratatta and Pidgey, we also get a ton of Magikarp and Psyduck, and it seems it's the same along the entirety of the Thames.
London is also swarming with Drowzee and Zubat, perhaps a result of the urban landscape.
According to people who live further away from cities and water, they find a lot more fire types than we do, and people who live near forests find a lot of grass types (here we find those mostly in parks). The same people also report finding more water types when it rains, though we have yet to fully confirm that this is true. It definitely seems like Niantic have worked on making sure there is some logic behind where a Pokemon has made its habitat, so if you're looking for specific types try to think where they might live.
Finally in our own experience we've found rarer Pokemon to have a higher chance of spawning in busy or important locations. We've seen a few Dratini (and even a Dragonair) near the river, but near Tower of London and Tower Bridge specifically we found 4 within 20 minutes, and right after we found a Vaporeon.
2. Pikachu as a starter
Okay, so this is not related to London in any way, but we figured we'd mention it briefly. If you're not happy with the original starters, or if you just want the iconic electric mouse, there is a way to start off like you're playing Pokemon Yellow. Simply run away (physically move around) from where the starters appear on your map. You'll need to escape the standard starters a few times, but eventually a Pikachu will appear. Catch it and you're ready to start your adventure.
3. Big landmarks are highly popular
It might seem really cool to run the Pokemon gym at Big Ben, or either of the two gyms at Buckingham Palace, but be aware that these are incredibly highly contested, and will most likely not stay under your control for long. The amount of players in these locations quickly overload the servers and cause heavy lag spikes and connection issues. Of course on the other hand they are great places to meet other players!
Hyde Park and Regents Park are also big draws for large groups, as both parks feature a variety of Pokemon, and if you're simply looking to add to your roster these might be the best spots. There are even some meet-ups in these areas so it is worth checking out Pokemon Go Facebook groups in your area.
4. Saving your battery
Yes, Pokemon Go drains a lot of battery. If you feel like making a small investment you could always get an external battery pack, but if you'd rather keep it a free game we suggest bringing your own charger for the plugs at Starbucks or McDonalds or wherever you might sit down. Most cafes have plugs for customer use nowadays, so take advantage. To make it charge faster, turn it on airplane mode and take a few minutes to disconnect. You can also charge your phone at many public libraries which often also feature gyms or Pokestops! Finally Chargebox is a company that supply free charging stations at a few select locations around London, such as Westfields and a few other places. They even have an app to help you locate your nearest charging station. Trust us you don't want to finally spot a Meowth only to notice you are at 1% battery.
5. Commute and play
Hatching eggs is one of the best ways to get new Pokemon after you've caught the ones commonly spawning around you. It's probably meant to encourage the second half of the name of the game 'Go', but if you don't feel like walking 10km for an Onix and you figured you'd just keep the game on while driving or more likely (here in London) while on the underground, you're out of luck. The game won't count movement if it's too fast, so you really have to walk around (or using a bicycle is a great alternative, especially with the rental bikes in central London).
If you're feeling very impatient however, we've found a nifty trick. The GPS system seem to have a slightly harder time tracking your exact location when you're inside, and if you jump off wi-fi and run the game on 3G you will often see your avatar run around near your location trying to figure out exactly where they are. You can use this to simulate moving around, though it doesn't always work. Leave it on for a while and you'll eventually see the egg meter ticking.
6. A few specific hotspots for rarer Pokemon
While there is no guaranteed guides yet, there does seem to be certain areas where certain rare Pokemon are way more likely to appear. A few such locations include:
Holland Park for Charmander
Tower of London and Canary Wharf for Dratini
Southbank for Vaporeon
Russel Square for Ryhorn
There are probably a ton more, but those are some of the 99% guaranteed hotspots we've found so far. Let us know if you've found more!
7. Request a Pokestop or Gym if your area is barren
This final tip is probably more relevant to those outside of London, but you can now request Pokestops and gyms, or you can even request removing either one if they're located in your home. Cool to see Niantic allowing users to fill the world even more so everyone can play where they live. You can find the form via Kotaku.
Have you found any good spots for PokeHunting? Let us know if the comments! Finally we will leave you with some of our favorite Pokemon Go Snaps!