How to win Pokémon Go: Get to level 40, complete your Pokédex, own Gyms, and more!

Updated March 2017 with new challenges that come with Pokémon Go Gen 2.

A level 40 trainer with a complete Pokédex, every medal at gold, all the candies needed to evolve Gen 3 and 4, and maxed out Pokémon on 10 Gyms or more is simply a brand new, Level 1 trainer who never quit. Or so that saying goes. Realistically, though, between official events and the introduction of new Pokémon, it can sometimes be tough to stay motivated and think of cool things to do. Luckily, Pokémon Go provides several ways to "win", and with a little creativity, you can easily make several more all your own!

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1. Get to level 40

To get to level 30 in Pokémon Go takes 2,000,000 XP. When you reach it, you get 30 Ultra Balls, 20 Max Potions, 20 Razz Berries, 3 Incense, 3 Lucky Eggs, 3 Egg Incubators, 3 Lure Modules, and — for the first time ever — 20 Max Revives.

You can also start catching level 30 Pokémon, the highest that currently spawn in the wild. But that's also where you hit a wall.

It takes an incredible amount of XP to gain each additional level yet Pokémon Go offers almost nothing by way of rewards in return. You can't hatch or catch a higher level Pokémon than you could at level 30. And while you can still power up your Pokémon until you hit level 39, it starts costing staggering amounts of candy and Stardust each time — and they only power up half as much as they used to.

When you hit level 40, you do get 40 Ultra Balls, 40 Max Potions, 40 Max Revives, 40 Razz Berries, 4 Incense, 4 Lucky Eggs, 4 Egg Incubators, and 4 Lure Modules. But it takes 20,000,000,000 XP to get there. You could literally level up 10 other trainers to level 30 with the same XP it costs to get one trainer to level 40. (Yes, when you hit level 30, you're only 10% of the way to level 40.)

It'd be awesome if Pokémon Go did something to better incentivize gaining the higher levels. Like giving you a special 50 KM or 100 KM egg that hatched Mew or Mewtwo, one at level 35, one at level 40. But here's the thing: level 40 is currently the highest level you can get to, though, and that makes it the top of Pokémon Go mountain.

If you get to level 40, you may only have a few items and bragging rights to show for it, but you'll have the tenacity it took to get there and, right now, very few people can claim that.

In other words, you'll be the trainer in the Pokémon theme song — the very best.

Pokémon Go tips and tricks you need to know

2. Complete your regional Pokédex

Pokémon Go's slogan is "catch 'em all" and that directly translates into completing your Pokédex by catching, hatching, or evolving at least one of every type of Pokémon currently available in the game: Everything from Abra to Zubat — or Bulbasaur to Tyranitar, if we go by the numbers.

It doesn't include the Legendary Birds or Legendary Beasts because Pokémon Go hasn't had an event or otherwise officially released them yet. Nor does it include Mew, Mewtwo, Celebi, and the other mythical, because Pokémon has likewise kept them off the board, at least for now.

It also doesn't include the region-locked Pokémon that you can only catch in specific places — Taurus in parts of North America, Mr. Mime in parts of Europe, Farfetch'd in parts of Asia, Kangaskhan in Australia, Heracross in Central and South America, and Corsola in the tropics.

What it does include is all the Gen 1 and Gen 2 Pokémon currently available in your area. In other words, catching 'em all and completing your regional Pokédex.

Where to find rare Pokémon in Pokémon Go!

3. Complete your international Pokédex

Completing the international Pokédex — catching absolutely every Gen 1 and Gen 2 Pokémon currently available in the game, regardless of region, is a real challenge. And it's one simply beyond the budget, schedule, or other commitments of most people.

If you can figure out a way to do it, though (a way that doesn't involve GPS spoofing, which is super easy and takes all the "win" out of it) then, like reaching level 40, you'll have accomplished something extraordinary.

Most people who have done it tell similar stories: They had business trips or vacations planned and arranged their flights to include layovers in as many of the regions as often as possible. Then, whether it was at the airports between flights, or out in the big cities if the layovers were long enough, they raced to catch at least one regional before they had to fly on. So, for example, flying to Australia by way of London and Tokyo, or the reverse.

Other people have relied on the kindness of friends or family traveling to one or more of those locations — having boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses, brothers, sisters, or other close friends or family members catch for them during their travels. It's a technical violation of the Terms of Service and the spirit of the game, but it's also a pretty amazing souvenir.

4. Complete your living Pokédex

For some people, just having added one of each Pokémon to check off the entries in the Pokédex isn't enough. For them, keeping them in a living Pokédex is the real challenge and thrill.

If you want a living Pokédex it means, for example, after you evolve your first Dragonite, you have to evolve another Dragonair and keep a Dratini so you have one of each. Same with Tyranitar, Pupitar, and Larvitar. You get the idea.

Ultimately, a living Pokédex means you should have one of every Pokémon currently available in the game also available to you for putting on a Gym or prestiging a Gym, for example, any time you want.

Of course, you can aim for two of each, three of each, or more — especially if you're working on ideal movesets — and up the challenge level as much as you like.

How to catch rare Pokémon in Pokémon Go

Complete your Pokédex in the wild!

This one really ramps up the difficulty level. The basic idea is: Don't hatch anything and don't evolve anything. Instead, catch everything in the wild. Obviously, it can't include the Gen 2 babies, since they're only available through hatching. Even so, the challenge is enormous.

When you consider how rarely some Pokémon like Muk spawn in many places, it's about as hard an endeavor as I can imagine. Likewise catching Dragonair and Dragonite, Pupitar and Larvitar, Charizard and Amphoros... Yeah.

Yeah, wow.

5. Max out your Pokémon CP and movesets

Hatching, catching, or evolving a Pokémon is sometimes just the beginning. Every Pokémon has a maximum CP (Combat Power) number it can hit, and ideal movesets that do the best job defending or attacking a Gym.

Powering up a Pokémon is a matter of having enough candy and Stardust. It can be a lot of work to accumulate it, and it can go really fast at the higher levels, but with enough time and effort, you can get every one of you high CP Pokémon to their max.

Movesets are another story. They're generated at random every time you hatch, catch, or evolve. That not only makes them unpredictable, it makes them frustrating as hell. And it makes getting ideal Pokémon very, very tough.

Maybe you'll luck out and your first Dragonite, or Tyranitar, or Gyarados will have the ideal moves. If not, though, you'll need another 125 Dratini or Larvitar candy, or 400 Magikarp candy — or a serendipitous spawn — to try again.

  • 3670 CP Tyranitar with Bite and Crunch or Iron Tail and Crunch
  • 3520 CP Dragonite with Dragon Tail and Outrage.
  • 3305 CP Snorlax with Zen Headbutt and Hyper Beam. (Legacy: Zen Headbutt and Body Slam)
  • 3250 CP Rhydon with Mud Slap and Stone Edge.
  • 3230 CP Gyarados with Dragon Tail and Hydro Pump.
  • 3219 CP Blissey with Zen Headbutt and Dazzling Gleam or Pound and Hyper Beam
  • 3110 CP Vaporeon with Water Gun and Hydro Pump.

And then you can try for multiples, or try going further down the top tier lists. Talk about your challenges!

Here are the Pokémon you should evolve and power up in Pokémon Go

8. Prepare for all the Gen 4 evolutions

With the release of Gen 4, some Pokémon that currently have no evolutions will be getting their first evolutions, and some with existing evolutions will be getting additional or split evolutions. Just like Gen 2, some might require evolution items or special circumstances. Either way, you'll need candy and candidates.

  • Magnemite to evolve Magneton into Magnazone.
  • Lickitung to evolve into Lickilicky.
  • Rhynhorn to evolve into Rhyperior.
  • Tangela to evolve into Tangrowth.
  • Elekid to evolve Electabuzz into Electivire.
  • Magby to evolve Magmar into Magmortar.
  • Eevee to evolve into Leafeon and Glaceon (Split).
  • Porygon to evolve Porygon2 into Porygon-Z.
  • Aipom to evolve into Ambipom.
  • Yanma to evolve into Yanmega.
  • Murkrow to evolve into Honchkrow.
  • Misdreavus to evolve into Mismagius.
  • Gligar to evolve into Gliscor.
  • Sneasel to evolve into Weavile.
  • Swinub to evolve Piloswine into Mamoswine.
  • Togetic to evolve into Togekiss

So, if you're looking for a fresh challenge, getting prepared for Gen 4 evolutions is it!

How to get ready for all the Gen 2 evolution in Pokémon Go

9. Get gold in all the medals

Pokémon Go offers bronze, silver, and gold medals for achieving certain goals.

The first set of medals are for achievements. You get them for walking, registering Pokémon to your Pokédex, capturing Pokémon, evolving Pokémon, hatching Pokémon, visiting PokéStops, battling in Gyms, training in Gyms, catching tiny Rattata, catching Pikachu, and catching big Magikarp. (To get 300 "big" Magikarp means catching around 2000 total...! To get every Unown means encountering around 100!)

Earning them is their own reward, because Pokémon Go currently offers nothing else. Still, not everyone will walk, catch, hatch, evolve, battle and train that much, so there are bragging rights at least.

The second set of medals are for catching but by Pokémon type: Normal, flying, poison, earth, rock, bug, ghost, fire, water, grass, electric, psychic, fairy, fighting, steel, ice, and dragon. As you go through bronze, silver, and gold, you get bonuses to catch those types of Pokémon: x1.1, x1.2, and x1.3 respectively. Since Pokémon Gen 1 has only one steel type, only three dragon type, and only a handful of ice type, getting some of the medals can be a real challenge.

Getting all the medals... yeah, that's a win.

How to get every gold medal in Pokémon Go

10. Own ten or more Gyms daily

Put your Pokémon on a Gym and, as long as it remains on that Gym, you can claim a Defenders Bonus of 500 Stardust and 10 Poké Coins every 21 hours. Two Gyms will net you 1000 Stardust and 20 Pokécoin. Three gyms, 1500 and 30. The bonuses keep adding up to a maximum of ten Gyms, 5000 Stardust, and 100 Poké Coins every 21 hours. So, get your Pokémon on ten Gyms every 21 hours, and you're sitting pretty.

To get your Pokémon even on a single Gym can be a challenge, though. You have to either luck on an open slot, or take down the Gym of a competing Gym or prestige up a friendly Gym to make a slot. And you have to do it while other players are going around taking down Gyms you're already on.

Some people try to put the highest CP Pokémon they can on the highest level Gyms they can and hold on for as long as they can. 3000+ Dragonite, Snorlax, Rhydon, Gyrados, and Vaporeon can last a while, after all.

Others prefer to travel around, take down as many Gyms as quickly as possible, put as many Pokémon of any kind on them as rapidly as possible, and claim the Defenders Bonus as fast as possible.

The first is a stamina play. The second, a speed play. Both can work. Of course, since taking down Gyms isn't as hard as it used to be, and other people can be traveling around taking down the same Gyms you just did, both can also fail at any time.

So, getting and keeping ten Gyms long enough to claim your Defenders Bonus every 21 hours isn't just a hard target, it's a moving target. Also, just because the bonus caps out at ten doesn't mean you have to...

Want to make it even tougher? Try taking a Gym at Apple or Google, at a famous landmark or sports arena. Try an all-babies Gym. Or all regionals. Or all ghost-types. Or all level 1 (Under 30 CP Snorlax, Lapras, and Gyrados are hilarious!)

Bonus: Get fit and have fun!

If you let it, Pokémon Go can also help you live a better life. I know it sounds corny, but if you get out, walk your buddy, hatch some eggs, and catch some Pokémon, you can get some fresh air and exercise. You can also go out with friends and family and play together, or meet new people who also enjoy the game.

So many games keep us glued to our sofas, desks, or phones. Pokémon Go forces you out to have your fun. So let it!

Your favorite way to win?

Personally, I'm all about the Pokédex. But if you prefer levels or Gyms, let me know and tell me why. And if I missed your favorite way to win Pokémon Go, tell me all about that too. Any other questions? Drop them in the comments below!

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.