Alola, fellow trainers. With many of you undergoing the island challenge today, I wanted to share some pointers on how to best make your way through an exciting new Pokemon adventure.
Pick whatever starter you want
Seriously, there's no right choice. Rowlet, Litten and Popplio all make fine additions to a burgeoning squad, though they end up having different strengths by the time they reach their final evolution. Decidueye is more of a mixed attacker, Incineroar hits hard with a high attack stat and Primarina has good special attack and defence, respectively. If those descriptions mean nothing to you, don't worry about it. Just follow your heart.
If you're looking to go against the grain, the misunderstood Popplio might be your best bet.
Be selective about what Pokemon you capture
There are hundreds of monsters for you to collect, and most of them won't make the cut, long-term. At the start of the game it may be tempting to capture and use whatever you come across, but never settle for any creature you don't actually like. You're just going to replace it quickly, so don't spend too much time levelling "eh" creatures just to get by.
Diversify your team
With elemental affinities, it's important to make sure the team you select isn't overwhelmingly weak to any given element. For tactical purposes, it might be worth checking out this online team planner, which can tell you about the elemental weaknesses your team needs to watch out for.
Use the right moves
The most powerful moves are the ones that align with a monster's own typing. Known as a "STAB (same type attack bonus)", it can grant you 50 per cent more power on anything you dish out. (A fire Pokemon using a fire move is Very Good, for example.)
Now, don't take this to mean you should only stock a monster up with the same move types. Some moves should also be reserved for taking care of a wider set of threats. 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.
You should also use 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. Stats can be observed by pressing X > Pokemon on the overworld.
Change your move order
Some moves are used more than others. Within a monster's summary menu, you can tap and hold their individual moves and change the order around. I like to put my strongest moves first, for ease of use.
Before sending a new monster out to battle, tap on their icon and check out their moveset. The game should tell you what moves are effective against your opponent. Don't make the mistake of sending out a Pokemon to face an enemy when it only has a selection of "not very effective" moves.
Give Pokemon held items
You'll collect dozens of items throughout your travels, many of which can be held by Pokemon to influence them in subtle ways. You should check out your inventory every so often to make sure your company is outfitted with the best stuff around. I like to equip my critters with stuff that will make moves more powerful, for example.
Catch multiple Pokemon of the same kind
Not all Pokemon are created equal... some are definitely better than others, even if they're both literally the same Pokemon. 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.
Smogon and Bulbapedia are good resources for looking up natures and abilities suited for each monster. Smogon in particular is great reading for perusing the most effective loadouts for any given monster, and it even gives you some options depending on your preferred playstyle. (It will take some time for these websites to update with the latest competitive information.
Fiddle with your options
If you press X and then right on your D-Pad, you should see the options menu. 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 unless you want to blast through the game. Otherwise, the battle animations are a treat.
What use is it to become a master if you don't look cute? Nearly every town in Sun and Moon comes equipped with shopping centres where you can buy new clothes and go to a barbershop. Some of the options can be pricey, but they're worth it. Here's what I look like.
Talk To Everyone
People in Sun and Moon are prone to shower you with gifts just for speaking to them, including actual Pokemon. You'll also find that some NPCs will task you with quests. I found it helped to write these quests down, since the game doesn't track them.
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. Betcha there's something hidden there.
The "Stoutland Search" charge should also flag any nearby items for you, so I encourage you to use it whenever there's a big, open space.
Use the cafe every day
Drinks are cheap, and you'll get some free status-healing items and Pokebeans as a reward.
Use Pokemon Refresh
Before a skirmish ends, you can press X to trigger battle aftercare, where you can personally treat any status ailments your monster has. Since it's free, it's a way better option than wasting an item on a status condition.
Go to the Festival Plaza
YMMV here, but it's worth stopping by Festival Plaza to see if you're into what it provides. There are raffles where you can win free items. You can build shops with specialty goods. You can interact with other trainers, Miitomo-style. I didn't find much to do there, but you might, depending on whether you're a serious breeder or just want a change of pace.
Chuck Pyukumukus for money
Near the second half of the game, you will encounter a beach with spiky Pokemon sprinkled throughout the sand. If you speak to the nearby lifeguard, he'll task you with the job of collecting all these monsters. It's a repeatable side-job that can net you $20,000.
Look for Zygarde cubes
See a floating shiny? Chances are good it's a Zygarde cube or core. Just go up to it and press A, and you should be able to pick it up. Depending on how many you find, you might be able to reconstruct a Zygarde form. (Zygarde is a legendary monster.) If you're stuck, here's a guide with many of the Zygarde cube/core locations.
By the third island, if you're not spending some time levelling your monsters, you're going to get wrecked. Be prepared.
Capture as many Pokemon as you can
You may not use them in battle, but having healthy PC boxes stocked with monsters is a good thing, because...
Use Pokemon Pelago
Pokemon Pelago is a new feature that allows you to develop islands where your Pokemon can find items, train and encounter wild new Pokemon. Pelago development is tied to how many monsters you've captured, so the more you have, the more you can do in Pelago.
Use Wonder Trade
With a few taps, you can blindly trade a Pokemon to get a mysterious new Pokemon in return. It's one of the most fun things you can do in Sun and Moon; almost like an advent calendar. To access Wonder Trade, just go into Festival Plaza and select "Trade" on your bottom screen.
Play at different times of day
Pokemon Sun and Moon use your 3DS timer to determine its in-game time, and certain Pokemon can only be encountered or evolved if you're playing during the day/night. Experiment, see what you can find.
As you play, you'll gain new Pokemon charges. Their most obvious use is in whatever location your quest marker points to, but sometimes, they can be used to access certain areas of old locales. Pay attention to water ridges, movable boxes and other obstacles you can't immediately surpass; you might need to return later with the right charge.