Sure, the world of Pokemon is kind and charming... but that doesn't mean you can't step your game up a little while playing. You wanna be the very best, like no one ever was, right? We're here to help you with that.
Here are some things you should do or keep in mind while playing Pokemon X & Y. Some are general Pokemon tips. Some are more X & Y specific. I hope they help!
Play With Whatever Pokemon You'd Like
There are over 700 Pokemon. That's a TON of choices. Technically not all these Pokemon are competitively viable, but for the sake of the single-player adventure? Most/any will do the trick, provided you've leveled up enough. There's no reason not to play with the Pokemon you think are cool or cute, that's the point of having so many of them in the roster! Granted, you can still be smart about using your favourite Pokemon.
Side note: since this game gives you two starters -- one from the new generation, and one from the original generation -- you might want to coordinate between them. If you have your eyes set on Charizard, for example, it might not make sense to pick the fire starter at the beginning of the game!
Which brings us to...
Be Smart About How You Use Those Pokemon
The key is diversifying. You can do this on a team level and on a moveset level too. All Pokemon belong to different types of groups -- some of that is based on an element, like water or fire, and others are based on their characteristics, like flying creatures. If you have a move that matches your Pokemon's type -- say, a fire move on a fire Pokemon -- it'll be more powerful than moves of a different type. Pokemon veterans call this bonus "STAB", same type attack bonus.
Despite that bonus, you don't want to have a Pokemon with 4 moves of the same type -- a fire Pokemon with four fire type moves, for example. The less you have to switch a Pokemon out to match the various types of enemies, the better -- and having a Pokemon with a few different move types helps with that. So as an example: my Sliggoo is a dragon type, and it has one dragon move, one water move, one electric move, and one ice move. It's not the best spread, but it lets me take care of a good number of Pokemon. If Sliggoo had four dragon type moves, or even two or three dragon type moves, I limit the number of Pokemon I can be effective against. Not the best situation!
You also gotta make sure you're using the right category of moves: if your Pokemon has a high special attack stat, you should use more special moves, and if they have a high attack stat, you should use physical moves. Here's what the page that shows you your stats looks like (yours will have different numbers, depending on your Pokemon):
You should be able to see what type of moves you have in the summary menus (or, if you're about to learn a new move, it should tell you what category it is via a little icon).
It can be eye-opening to see that a team you've built could actually be wiped out rather easily by one specific element.
And just like you don't want to have too many of the same element in your moveset, you'll want to make sure your overall team doesn't have more than one Pokemon of the same elemental type and, following that, that those Pokemon aren't all weak to the same things. Having a grass type, a steel type and an ice type on your team is a bad idea, for example: sure, you've got multiple different element types here, but they're all weak to fire. You could be wiped out rather easily, and yes, this is true even in just the single-player.
A good resource here to make sure you have all your bases covered is Marriland's team building tool. You can insert whatever Pokemon you have/want on your team, and it'll tell you your overall weaknesses, resistances and immunities. It can be eye-opening to see that a team you've built could actually be wiped out rather easily by one specific element or something, or that you have no Pokemon/moves to respond to a particular threat.
Caveat: it hasn't updated for X & Y yet, but most of the Pokemon in the Pokedex are in there -- I'd keep an eye on this and check back every once in a while, because they're going to update it eventually. This is what happens when you get a world-wide release and everyone starts playing on the same day, we can't just turn to the internet right away to look stuff up!
We'll be running a more in-depth guide about team-building sometime later, but for now, diversifying is a good thing to try to do.
Side-note: Most of what I've mentioned so far is mechanical, but... don't be afraid to nickname your Pokemon, if you want. Just know that other people can see the names of your Pokemon, should you play with anyone else. So you can be crass and vulgar if you want, it just won't look classy!
Catch Multiple Pokemon of the Same Kind
Not all Pokemon are created equal, you know... some are definitely better than others, even if they're both literally the same Pokemon. They'll be built differently! If you have the patience, you should try catching multiple Pokemon of whatever you've set your eyes on. After you do, compare the stats, the natures and the abilities. Go with whichever has the better stats and the more beneficial nature (look for words like "bashful", "naughty" and so on in the summary menus -- these refer to things that add bonuses, as well as weak stats) for your Pokemon.
A Gengar, for example, is a glass-canon type Pokemon that is best suited for special-attack sweeping. You'll want to seek out Haunters/Ghastlys that are the 'Timid' nature, as that boosts speed (and downs your attack stat, but you don't need that). Of course, you might not outright know what a specific Pokemon is suited for without getting into competitive metagame, but that's ok. You don't need to go there if you don't want to: again, just compare the stats. If one Pokemon seems to have better stats than the other one, you should probably pick that one and let the other Pokemon go!
Smogon and Bulbapedia are good resources for looking up natures and abilities, since the game doesn't tell you what natures and abilities affect. If you're curious about what your Pokemon is suited for, Smogon is good reading -- just look up the Pokemon you have in mind and peruse the different, err, loadouts to gauge which is most powerful/desirable for your playstyle. Like Marriland, there will probably be updates in the future, if not a shift in terms of how people think about this stuff as people spend more time with the game.
Live and Die By This Chart
I don't expect you to just plain memorize all the strengths, weaknesses and immunities of all the elemental types. I sure as heck haven't -- like I said in my review, I was constantly looking this stuff up. But that's ok, people have made charts for this sort of thing. Bulbapedia created the following chart, for example:
Use it. Hell, print it out if you wanna. Frame it. Decorate the frame with glitter. Trust me, you'll start to cherish this chart that much.
Fiddle With The Options
Despite being a fast-paced game, some aspects of X & Y are dreadfully slow. Personally I set my text speed up to fast. You may be the type of person that doesn't like watching battle animations -- you can turn them off, but I wouldn't recommend it. Part of the big draw in X & Y is that we can finally -- finally -- see Pokemon move! I relish that. But, you know, to each their own. Just know that if you have them off you won't be able to catch stuff like this:
There are a couple of other things that might be of interest in the options menu, be sure to check it out.
One of the most awesome features of this new Pokemon is that you can dress your avatar up... and you should! You want to look pretty, right? It'll be harder to do at the start of the game, when you don't have much money to spend on clothes, but eventually that changes. Once you have the money, go wild. Visit the boutiques regularly, since stock changes every day. Make sure to check out the salon in Lumiose city, where you can get a new haircut, as well as change your eye colour and hair colour.
Some areas won't let you inside unless you're dressed to impress, so you might as well.
Oh! And you're not the only one that can accessorize. Put some items on your Pokemon, too -- they can hold one special item. These items are useful in battle and sometimes can save you when you're in a pinch.
Listen. I know this is an RPG. I know that grinding is a thing you do in RPGs. But even so, it's not something I recommend you do for this game's single-player. For one, the difficulty is already kind of on the easy side. And secondly, everything about the game's design tells me that it expects you to keep moving, to keep going forward. Sticking to a few patches of grass for a couple of hours to raise your Pokemon is antithetical to that; I don't think Game Freak wants you to do that.
There's even less reason to do it when the game gives you an item called experience share early on, which is an item that distributes experience to all the Pokemon in your party, regardless of whether or not they participated in the battle. Makes the whole 'keep everyone at the same level' thing way, way easier, too.
Doing all the trainer battles and only the random encounters I couldn't avoid was enough, in terms of being at the appropriate level, or being right at the sweet spot where battles could sometimes be at least vaguely tough/interesting. There's nothing stopping you from grinding, of course, just know that you might find yourself bored as you go through the game and wreck everything.
Talk To Everyone
Pokemon has some charming writing -- you should see it all! Maybe it'll be ridiculous. Maybe it'll be inane. Maybe it'll be a meme. Or, even better, maybe the NPC will give you something -- there are a ton of TMs (moves that you can teach your Pokemon), items and possible trades for you to find...but you need to talk to everyone first.
Plus, there's a lot of daily stuff you can do via NPCs too. Serebii has a full list of daily events and where to find them here, but just to list some:
- Boutique item rotation
- Daily berries
- Daily TMs
- Daily Megas
- Daily Rival Battles
Play Online/With Others
Another neat thing about X & Y are all of its online features (which it calls PSS -- player search system) -- you'll want to keep your wireless on, if you can. Not only can you battle/trade/talk with your friends/strangers (if not constantly harass them with the NICE button), you can also do other awesome things.
The PSS, which is viewable on the bottom screen of your 3DS, shows you people from around the world playing X & Y, for example -- and you can read the messages they blast to the world. You can do wonder trades, which are a new type of trade where you can instantly trade whatever you'd like for a random Pokemon that someone else offers up. Though you might get a crap Pokemon, it's kind of exciting to not know what you're going to get, too.
The other big thing you can do via the PSS is distribute "O-Powers" -- temporary bonuses like increased pay-out in battles, healing, extra experience gain, and so on. Sure, you could use these things on yourself...but why not spread the love? I mean, it's pretty rad to think someone in, say, Japan, is helping you out right now even if they don't know who you are. Plus, the more you use O-Powers, the more they'll level up, the stronger they'll be.
Before you hop online, you might want to spend some time customising your profile, by the way. And as an added incentive to play online..if you think the game is too easy, that's all the more reason to play against other real people. Actual human beings don't use six Magikarp in one battle, unless they're trolling! Playing online is also a good way to see all the underlying nuances to what is actually a pretty complicated game.
Side-note: When you beat the game, you get the ability to go into a special zone to capture all sorts of Pokemon. Curiously, the more friend-codes you have registered on your 3DS, the more diversity of Pokemon you'll find in this zone. It's in your interest to register as many people as you can, not just to have more folk under your friends list on the PSS, but also to have more types of Pokemon to capture.
But if you, for whatever reason, can't go online? Don't sweat it too much. My initial run through the game was offline only and while, sure, it would have been fantastic to have these features on, you still get the core Pokemon experience without 'em.
Don't Be Afraid To Go Mega
Why not? It's cool, and it can give you the boost you need to win in a battle. On this note... search far and wide for the Mega Stones. There are a lot of Megas in the game, it's just a matter of finding the stones -- and they're well-hidden.
Make Trainer Videos
Somewhere in Lumiose City, there's a building where you can make short promotional videos of yourself and your Pokemon. They're super, super goofy and silly. And that's exactly why you should make some!
Look Out For Invisible Items
Game Freak does this thing where they put all sorts of items around the world... but you can't always see them. But if you use "Mario Logic", you should be able to tell what sorts of places might contain this game's version of hidden blocks. Is there a mysterious dead end on the map? Maybe you should try facing the middle portion of the dead end and pressing "A". I bet you there's something hidden there.
Get An HM Slave
As you go along, there will be a number of moves you need to perform actions around the world -- surfing, cutting away stuff that blocks roads, flying, using strength to move boulders and so on. Most of these moves kind of suck in battle, and you're better off not taking up a precious slot on one of your main Pokemon for it. That's why you should get a Pokemon or two specifically for the purposes of using them as an HM slave -- take them out of the in-game PC when you need to use them, then throw them back in until next time.
It's worth noting that, unlike previous Pokemon games, using all the HMs isn't mandatory. I never had to teach anyone "Cut" though that did mean I missed out on a few extra items. That's ok. The only things that seemed necessary -- as in, without them, you couldn't keep moving forward in the story -- were strength and surf. Fly is more of a convenience thing.
Skip Amie and Super Training... Unless
X & Y introduce two new features: a Nintendogs-like ability to interact with/pet your Pokemon called Pokemon Amie, and a mini-game that lets you buff your Pokemon up called Super Training.
So, for the most part, both of these new features aren't things you have to dabble with...unless you want specific stuff. Want a Sylveon, the new fairy-type Eevee? You'll have to use Amie to get your friendship high enough. Want to boost the stats of your Pokemon? Super training is there, though hardly necessary for getting through the single player. It's also worth keeping in mind that Amie can give you an experience boost, provided your friendship is high enough (amongst other bonuses).
Keep Playing After You Beat It
There are a few new areas that don't open until after you beat the game -- you should know what some of these are as you go along, since they'll initially deny you entry. It's not just new locations, though: according to Serebii, there's a special detective portion of X & Y that you can play after the main game ends. It sounds cool. A good number of the daily things available to you aren't in place until after you beat the game -- notably, the stuff that makes finding Mega Stones easier.
And that's it! With this stuff in mind, you should get the most out of your Pokemon experience...but feel free to share your own tips, if you've got any. And if you still haven't decided on which Pokemon to buy: here's my article about the differences between Pokemon X & Y, and our review on the games.