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Pokémon Go Plus: Everything you need to know (update)

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Why should you buy a $35 peripheral for a free-to-play game?

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Pokémon Go is now available on iOS and Android for free — at least for those in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and Japan — but the game is about to get a $34.99 add-on. The Pokémon Go Plus is out on Sept. 16, and when it launches, it will change up the way you currently play the game in some big ways.

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That's because the Pokémon Go Plus is a standalone peripheral that lets you play without having to look at your phone's screen the entire time. There are a ton of things we still don't understand about how the peripheral will work, but here's what we know so far.

What is the Pokémon Go Plus?

The Pokémon Go Plus is a $34.99 add-on peripheral that interacts with Pokémon Go. The Plus resembles a Pokéball mixed with a Google Maps pin, which speaks to the game's combination of Pokémon and real world travel. It uses Bluetooth to connect to your smart device, and you can clip it to your lapel or wear like a bracelet to stay connected to your game at all times.

What does it do?

The Plus lets you know when you're near a PokeStop, the specially marked locations on the game's map that come with items, Pokémon eggs and, if you're lucky, Pokémon to catch. You can also continue to take the steps necessary for hatching eggs and powering up buddy Pokémon, all without looking at your phone.

While your phone's screen is off, the peripheral will vibrate and light up blue when you've approached a PokéStop in the real world. Press the button on the center of the Plus to collect the goods; it will flash a spectrum of colors to confirm that you've gathered the items. To see what you've found, open up your trainer journal. Pop-up notifications will also alert you to what's going on with the game.

Does the Plus help me catch Pokémon?

In a way, yes! The Pokémon Go Plus allows you to catch Pokémon without taking out your phone. If a Pokémon is nearby, the device will light up. At that point, you can throw a Poké Ball, just by using the device. This only works if you've already caught that Pokémon before, though; you won't be catching any new Pokémon for your Pokédex using the Pokémon Go Plus.

To differentiate between the two are two kinds of lights, green and yellow. If the Plus flashes green, it's a Pokémon you've caught before. If it's yellow, it's a new one. Green lights just require you to press a button and let the Plus throw a Poké Ball and do it's thing, while yellow indicates it's time to open up the app.

If the Pokémon encounter worked out, the Plus will vibrate three times, then flash several colors to celebrate your achievement. If it doesn't work, it will vibrate and blink red. Since it only draws from the Poké Balls at your disposal, not better ones like Great Balls, expect for stronger Pokémon to run away fairly often. (To see who you caught or missed out on, check your trainer journal.)

You'll get the standard amounts of experience from PokéStop and Pokémon encounters, and some users report that you'll receive 25 experience after facing a Pokémon that ultimately runs away. The whole process takes seconds, much faster than the average Pokémon Go battle.

But does the Plus really work?

Now that it's out, we've spent some time with it, and it does work — mostly. There are some Bluetooth issues and other errors that may be as much the fault of our internet connection as the device itself, but we'll keep messing with it and have full impressions up later.

If you have one on your hands but want to take a second look at the manual, consult our scan below. It will give you the rundown on how to connect the Plus to your smart device.

Pokémon Go Plus Manual by Polygondotcom on Scribd

When does the Pokémon Go Plus come out? And how can I get one?

The $34.99 peripheral went on sale Sept. 16, after months of anticipation. Niantic revealed the date just a week ahead of time — not quite a surprise release, but it comes close. GameStop and Amazon have store pages for the Plus, and it's also in stock at Nintendo NY in New York City. Anticipate limited stock at all retailers, however; this thing is hard to get your hands on.

What should I do in the meantime?

You can keep playing Pokémon Go! Check out our FAQ for the basics, then branch out to the specifics on how to catch a Pokémon, how to find a PokéStop and how to decide which team you belong to.

Update: We've added the Pokémon Go Plus' new, delayed launch window above.

Update 2: It has a launch date! The above has been updated to reflect this.

Update 3: Polygon has one in our hands! We've updated the above with tons more info on how the Plus works.


POKÉMON GO LAUNCH TRAILER