Here's why Pokémon GO has taken over your feed (and your friends)

Jul 11, 2016 at 2:26 p.m. ET
Image: Daniel Sims/Getty Images

Unless you've been under a rock all weekend (and giving the week that preceded it, no one could blame you), chances are very high that you've at least heard about the recent release of an extremely popular augmented reality game called Pokémon GO.

If you've actually dared to venture outside, you've probably seen even more people bent over their phones than usual, perhaps pointing to something off in the distance. That something might be a wild Clefairy but is more likely a fucking Woobat, because Pokémon GO manages to be both incredibly fun and ridiculously frustrating.

Here's how to gird your loins if you're thinking of joining in on the fun.

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1. Expect server issues

It's not uncommon for a popular game to experience all kinds of server issues as hundreds of thousands of people log on to play. It is a little strange that they would persist as long as they have for Pokémon GO.

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When you couple that with the fact that people are having a tough time logging in, you have a recipe for frustration. You have the option to sign into the game using either your Google account or a Pokémon Club trainer account, and people have said they're having success with the former. The only issue there is that if you've already logged in with the latter, all your progress will be reset.

2. Expect your phone to scream in protest

If you do manage to get on and stay on, the next thing you'll notice is that your phone battery will give up on life. That's not surprising, as the app uses Google Maps and your camera interface to augment all that sweet reality, and that requires battery power. Niantic, the company responsible for the game, says it's working on fixes and that you can save some battery power by switching Google Maps to offline mode, but some users can't help but wonder if there's an ulterior motive here.

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3. Don't expect to have any idea what you should be doing

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Another thing that has people irritated is the fact that there's a bit of a learning curve. There's a small-ish tutorial in the beginning, but it's nothing to brag about.

4. Not every place is teeming with Pokémon

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If you live in a sparsely populated to mildly teeming rural or suburban area, that sort of sucks. There's just a lot more fun to be had in cities, because more people = more Pokémon. If you don't live in one, you may need to go for a drive.

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5. You might as well learn a little metric

Like anyone in America who wants to chase a high — whether chemical or Charizard related — you'll need to learn a little metric. The game will let you know which Pokémon are nearby, in increments of 1, 2 or 3 meters, and Eggs are hatched by walking up to 5 kilometers. That's 3.1 miles, by the way. Just in case that's useful to anyone.

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6. The PokésStops are hilarious

PokéStops are where you can collect items and goodies, and they're located at local points of interest, for the most part. They were also logged by unmoderated volunteers, which is why you'll find lots of them attached to silly things, like fallopian tube playgrounds.

They can also get a little bit creepy, as one user found out.

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7. But they've yielded a few nasty surprises

We're referring, of course, to the Wyoming teen who accidentally stumbled across a dead body while attempting to catch Pokémon. As far as we know, that wasn't someone's idea of a really sick joke; it doesn't appear that it was intentional.

One thing that is intentional is a rash of robberies that took place over the weekend when a few shady dealers literally lured players to isolated spots by setting a beacon for them and then relieved them of their possessions.

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8. You really, really want to be aware of your surroundings

With that in mind, you'll definitely want to employ the buddy system if you're moving around at night, because some things might just be too good to be true.

9. It's really all about the gyms for now

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There's talk of being able to battle and trade Pokémon with your friends with later updates to the app, but for now, once the novelty of finding new Pokémon wears off, you'll have to do battle in the Gyms. You'll find these around town, much like you would a PokéStop, only you'll find a battle waiting for you instead of goodies. If you manage to defeat the Pokémon guarding the Gym, it's yours for the taking.

For the most part, you'll find them to be pretty firmly held, with some dedicated users spending lots of time and money to be the very best. It can feel imbalanced, and you'll likely have to grind to have a fighting chance at winning a Gym battle.

10. You will be walking — a lot

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And how will you grind? You will walk. This might surprise your legs.

11. It's definitely worth checking out

Really. We don't know if this will have the staying power people say it will, particularly if some of the buggy stuff isn't rectified, but it's worth a go. People are getting up and outside and talking to one another, and the whole thing is just kind of cool.

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