AR+, the new enhanced gameplay mode for Pokémon Go, is rolling out to iPhone 6s and newer. This feature replaces the AR toggle in the game with an entirely new way to interact with and catch Pokémon. It's totally optional, but hardcore players are going to be able to use this for a noticeable boost in stardust collected and experience gained with each catch.
Here's how it works!
Stalking in the Tall Grass
Most of your Pokémon Go experience as you know it right now will remain the same. Open the app, walk around searching for critters, and tap on a critter when it appears to attempt a catch. Once you pick something to catch, if you have AR+ enabled, things will look a lot different.
It really feels like you're working to catch your Pokémon.
For starters, there's Tall Grass all around you now. The app will ask you to move your phone in a circle to make the Tall Grass appear, but once it's there you'll be able to walk around in it. The Pokémon you want to catch will be a little ways away, and when you take a step in the real world, you will be one step closer to that Pokémon in the game. As you walk around, you'll see that Pokémon is the right shape and size as though it's really there. This means something like a Vaporeon will be small and lay in the grass while a Raikou will look down at you from above.
It also means you have to be careful about how you approach before you throw a PokéBall. You can throw from where you are, or you can try to get closer. The closer you get, the easier it is to score that coveted Excellent Throw bonus, but you also risk being seen by the Pokémon you are trying to catch. If it sees you, the Pokémon may try to move around more to avoid being caught or flee so you can't catch at all. You have to be sneaky, moving slowly and reacting to the movements of the creature you are stalking.
Once you throw the PokéBall, everything goes back to being the same Pokémon Go you remember. You catch the creature, it's added to your bag, or it breaks free and you try again. What you get from this new AR+ mode is the ability to really feel like you're working to catch your Pokémon, and the game rewards you for doing so.
Why should I use this?
You don't have to enable AR+. In, fact, if you don't the game will continue to play in very much the same way it always has. Playing the game in AR+ further immerses you in the game, and gives you some substantial rewards for mastering the new capture method. On top of the existing bonuses you get for scoring an Excellent Throw when you catch something, there's a new bonus called Expert Handler.
To score the Expert Handler bonus, you have to successfully sneak up on your Pokémon and catch it before it becomes aware of your existence. You have to get a little closer than you normally would, and you have to be able to catch the Pokémon with a single throw. This means the closer you can get without being detected, the better. The strategy here is to slowly move near the creature and rotate around it as it moves, until you're close enough to guarantee a Great or Excellent throw.
Once you make the catch, Expert Handler adds 25 Stardust and an extra 100XP to your catch bonus. Combined with the added modifiers from a Great or Excellent Throw and any weather bonuses available, and it's clear you can quickly make this capture technique worth your time.
When do I get AR+?
Niantic says this feature is being rolled out to iPhones soon. Historically, big updates like this have been rolled out based on location and not an actual software update. This means it might be a few days before you see AR= in your area, but once it is there you'll be able to use it for every catch!