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Pokémon Let's Go catching, catch combo and bonuses explained - how to catch Pokémon in both handheld and docked

Advice on how to master the sometimes-tricky catching mechanics of Pokémon Let's Go.

Catching Pokémon in Let's Go would, you'd think, be one of the game's simplest elements, but it's actually the place where you'll find a lot of the game's hidden depth.

Here, we'll take you through the essentials of how to catch Pokémon effectively - it can be a little awkward at times - as well as an explanation of Catching Bonuses and Catch Combos and how they work, too.

Pokémon Let's Go catching explained - how to catch Pokémon effectively

As you'll have noticed by now, catching in Pokémon Let's Go doesn't work like previous mainline games, instead operating much more closely - almost identically, in fact - to Pokémon Go (although it's worth noting for Go players that there are no curveballs in Let's Go!).

Catching Pokémon in Let's Go explained

Once you're in the catching phase - normally triggered by walking into the wild Pokémon you see roaming around the world - the simplest explanation is that you need to throw a Poké Ball with the right accuracy and timing, so that it hits the Pokémon on the inside of the coloured, closing circle.

You'll notice the circle itself has several possible colours, too: green, yellow, orange or red. These indicate the chance you have of the Pokémon successfully being caught (green being the highest chance of success, red being the lowest).

How to improve your chances of catching Pokémon

The starting colour of the ring will change from one species of Pokémon to the next, and likewise between higher and lower levels of the same type of Pokémon. A Lvl. 1 Meowth, for instance, will always have a green circle because it'll be dead easy to catch; a Lvl. 50 Meowth will probably start with a darker-coloured one because it's much tougher, and tougher Pokémon than that - like Legendaries, for instance - will likely always have a red circle.

While that circle's colour is dictated primarily by the species and level of the Pokémon in question, then, there are still several things you can do to increase your chances:

  1. Use a higher-quality ball - there are four types of Poké Ball in Let's Go: the standard Poké Balls, followed by Great Balls, Ultra Balls, and the one single Master Ball. The higher quality ball you use, the higher your chances of success, and that'll be indicated by the Pokémon's catch circle changing colour as you cycle through the different options. That high-level Meowth, for instance, might have its ring turn from red down to yellow if you switch from using Poké Balls to Ultra Balls.
  2. Use a Berry - there are three types of berries, and two of them (Nanab Berries and Razz Berries) help your chances of catching Pokémon. Nanab Berries will freeze the Pokémon in place, stopping it from moving around, and also slow down the speed at which the colour circle shrinks, making it easier for you to land a throw accurately. Razz Berries, meanwhile, simply increase the chances of a Pokémon being caught when you do land a throw, and like using better Balls can also change the colour of the circle to show your odds have improved. Note that these berries have three levels of quality too: regular ones, Silver ones and Golden ones - although Silver and Gold berries are pretty hard to find! We've noted any that we found along the way on each page of our Let's Go walkthrough.
  3. Land a better throw - the better your throw, the better your chances of a Pokémon being caught. Nice throws give you a better chance than normal ones, Great better than Nice, and Excellent the best chance of all. The smaller the coloured circle is when you land a throw inside it, the higher tier you'll get, randing from normal for the circle still being at it's largest, to Excellent when the circle's pretty tiny. Mastering regular Great and Excellent throws is going to be your best bet for catching tougher Pokémon as you progress!

How to improve your aim and get Great and Excellent throws

Improving your aim is pretty essential, then, and there are a couple of things to bear in mind if you want to do so.

First, it's worth noting that the 'Get Ready' option at the start of the catch phase is actually pretty important. Pressing this sets your current position as the 'centre' - be that the position of your Joy-Con or Poké Ball Plus in docked mode, or the console itself in handheld mode.

In other words, once you press that button, if you move, say, your Joy-Con to the right and then throw, then the ball will appear from the right of the screen, because you moved right of the position that you set as centre.

You should play close attention to your positioning when you press 'Get Ready' then, and throw the ball accordingly - remember you can always just press B to go back and reset yourself if you accidentally pressed it when out of position.

Second, you need to master your timing. In docked mode in particular, accuracy is almost handled for you, with the ball generally landing in the middle of the circle if you have a pretty consistent throwing action - what'll catch you out is the timing of the circle closing, and of course any jumping around or attacking done by the Pokémon.

We found that you need to throw a little earlier than you would in regular Pokémon Go, particularly in docked mode where there the ball throws at the end of your real-world throwing action. In docked mode, with a static Pokémon at a normal distance from us in the middle of the screen, we found it best to start our throwing action when the moving circle was just before half-way closed to the centre, in order to get an Excellent.

In handheld, meanwhile, it's worth noting that the analog sticks are your friend. You don't have to line up the actual Switch itself if you don't want to, because while motion-controls are always on, you can just hold the Switch still (or even put it down) and use the left stick to aim your shot instead. In handheld, aiming higher or lower is how you adjust for distance and power of the throw, as opposed to the actual motion of your movement when the Switch is docked.

Pokémon Let's Go catch bonuses - how to get catch bonuses and what they do

There are several types of catch bonus in Pokémon Let's Go, that grant you a rewards in the form of XP for accompplishing different things.

We're still working out the more granular detail on exactly what dictates the exact amount of reward you get - say, in terms of XP or bonus items - but for now here's what we know about what the different mutlipliers are, and how to get them:

  • New Pokémon - adds to your XP multiplier if this is the first time you've caught that species of Pokémon.
  • Nice, Great, or Excellent Throw - adds an increased amount to your XP multipler as you get better tiers of throw, ranging from nothing for a normal throw to the most for an Excellent.
  • Technique Bonus - increases your XP multipler if you use the Joy-Con or Poké Ball Plus motion controls in docked mode. Not available from any other method, as far as we can tell.
  • First throw - increases the XP multipler if you catch the Pokémon with your first throw of a ball.
  • Size Bonus - if a Pokémon is large or small (shown by a blue or red swirling aura when you see it in the wild), this grants an extra bonus XP multipler.
  • Combo Bonus - if you've caught more than one of the same type of Pokémon in a row - like, for example, three Pidgeotto in a row - then a Combo bonus is added to your XP multipler. It seems to be the case that the higher the Combo streak, so the more you've caught in a row, then the higher the Combo Bonus.

Head back to our main Pokémon Let's Go walkthrough and guide hub for all our pages in one place, including detailed, step-by-step help for tough spots like Cerulean Cave, and the Elite Four, plus tough dungeons like Silph Co., Seafoam Islands and Victory Road. Otherwise, take a peek(achu) at our Pokémon Let's Go TM list and all TM locations, Let's Go's starter locations and how to get Bulbasaur, Charmander and Squirtle, along with how to get Mew in Let's Go, and how to get Meltan in Let's Go and Go too. Beyond that we also explain how connect Pokémon Go to Let's Go on Nintendo Switch and transfer Pokémon, Catching, catch combos, and how to catch Pokémon, a quick collection of our best Pokémon Let's Go tips and tricks to get you off to a great start, and finally what we know about the Pokémon Pass app distribution event too.

Catch Combos and Catch Combo Pokémon explained

The final thing to bear in mind with catching in general in Pokémon Let's Go is the new mechanic of Catch Combos.

As we mentioned just above, a Catch Combo is your running streak of Pokémon of the same species that you've caught in a row. So if you've caught five Geodude in a row, you'll have a 5x Catch Combo.

As well as the increased amount of XP that we noted in those catch bonuses above, the higher the Catch Combo you get, the higher your chances are of getting a couple of other very interesting things: rare, super-low spawn rate Pokémon appearing, or a Shiny Pokémon of that same species that you caught for your combo.

The exact numbers - for things like what exact Catch Combo increases what reward chance by what amount - are still unknown. What we can say is that we regularly found an area's dedicated super-rare Pokémon to be appearing after around a 12x Catch Combo, or around 10x whilst a Lure is active, too.

As for Shinies, the requirements seem to be much higher - we know that the base, pre-Combo chance of a Shiny Pokémon appearing is 'similar' (although not exactly the same) as the 1 in 4096 chance of the most recent mainline games, and therefore it'll be much higher than the roughly 1 in 400 chance of one appearing in Pokémon Go - but we don't know yet how much those chances increase in likeliness a your Combo improves.

The same goes for the rare Pokémon - we know the chances of them appearing are dead low without any Combo, and the Pokémon Company has informed Eurogamer previously that the chance does increase with each stage of the Combo, rather than requiring you to simply hit a Combo of a set amount to trigger their appearance, but again, we don't know the exact numbers.

So, in other words, keep catching the same Pokémon to increase your Combo Bonus XP from every catch, greatly increase your chances of a rare Pokémon appearing - the sweet spot being around 12x or 13x - and finally, gradually increase your chances of a Shiny Pokémon of that species appearing, too.

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Chris Tapsell avatar

Chris Tapsell

Deputy Editor

Chris Tapsell is Eurogamer's Deputy Editor and most decorated Football Manager. He used to write guides, and will send you links to his favourite spreadsheets if you ask him about League of Legends or competitive Pokémon.