While there are certainly new things to do in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, how does it compare to the previous generation? The fans are divided on whether to play or pass. But here is my take:
1 Main Quest, 3 Storylines, Many things to do
What makes Scarlet and Violet different is the open-ended playthrough. There are three storylines which revolve around one overarching mission: to find your Treasure. It departs from the traditional linear progression of going through route X to beat the first Gym; it also differs from (the beta) Pokémon Legends: Arceus since you have to unlock areas in the story. In Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, you have three things to do and it’s up to you how you want to progress including beating the gyms in random order.
Don’t forget the Team/Single Raids, bonding activities, shiny hunting, breeding, and slotting the best team. There is also a little bit of Pokémon Snap too. There are over 1000 Pokémon species now. I can only imagine how Pokémon Home will fit in this picture since there are only 400 Pokedex slots in the game. My Union Circle focuses on Raids, shiny hunting, and composing the best battle team. They’ve brought back a side mission of stake hunting to unlock four new Legendary Pokémon.
The Coop brings Fresh Air
Union Circle is the coop aspect. I’m impressed at the local wireless coop capability – or wireless coop without the Internet. Overall, seeing other trainers in the world has given the game a new depth. Players can scour the host’s map for their respective Raid Crystals. Each player can find their own crystal, start the raid, and share the loot. With the double pack, you can coop with another Switch and get the Raid loot on both. We can only anticipate what the next-gen Pokemon game will be with coop using the next-gen Nintendo hardware.
New Things and Returning Feature on Pokémon Scarlet and Violet
For me, the new starters have a better design than the previous gen. I was smitten with the kitten. The new starters look more vibrant and elaborate. I highly prefer Sprigatito than Grookey, and the dual-type Skeledirge has more personality than Cinderace (ie. the fiery bird resting on its snout).
It’s fun to roam around the fields again since you’re able to take out your lead Pokémon outside the Pokeball while exploring. I missed having your Pokémon follow you around on the vanilla Sword/Shield; the Let’s Go series demonstrated this best. Especially when Pokémon Scarlet and Violet is open world. Loading only occurs when entering the premises of Mesagoza or entering buildings, and tunnels are seamless in the map. Paldea has room for an expansion content.
Picnics are your way to bonding. Your Pokémon party can play around with a soccer ball. You can make sandwiches to boost certain perks for yourself and your crew. You can also wash your Pokémon; I haven’t seen anyone dirty yet. Just better be careful on washing Charmander.
There’s a new way to Pokémon Training too by commanding your Pokémon to auto-battle in the wild. Auto-battling depends on your Pokemon’s advantage in terms of level and type. They’ll one-hit any wild Pokémon if they have clear advantage; they’ll get damaged if the opponent is on par; otherwise they’ll come crying back to you if they’re weaker.
An Amazing and Memorable Story
Storywise, this is also one of the first in the series where I’ve fully empathized with one of the characters. I was suspicious about Arven initially, but it turns out that he’s one of the best characters in the game. Penny is also a memorable character and I love her running animation and her fluffy Eevee bag. Her backstory checks out too. Only Nemona annoyed me.
It’s not an exaggeration that there’s a hint of sadness in the ending; accompanied by a mesmerizing and mysterious background music (with a hint of sadness), the ending is a cut above the rest. I just played one of the best storylines in a Pokémon game. I’m glad that they used a serious storyline.
The Problems on Pokémon Scarlet and Violet
Aging hardware or optimization problem?
The biggest problem is the performance dip while exploring. The game dips as low as ~ 10fps in Casseroya Lake during the day and it’s difficult to do anything meaningful while being crowded by moving Gyarados. I was utterly dumbfounded how the Switch acted too inferior even when it’s docked; I doubt having it docked would help anyway. But I couldn’t finish the battle nor move away because that area was unplayable. I had to use a Poke Doll to escape and end the suffering.
The performance dip can be quick, but it can also depend on the camera angle. Remember running a PC with an old videocard and looking at the sky to gain FPS? When the screen gets super busy with weather effects or a loaded environment, the performance takes a nosedive. This includes battle sequences and even accessing the menu.
The Bugs and Visual Glitches
I find it hilarious that certain camera angles during battles can clip the world. NPCs would also walk through battles. Other visual glitches I’ve noticed were flickering shadows and changing lighting when taking one step forward. While battling the gym leader in Cortondo at night, the moon disappeared. After winning, the moon returned back to the sky like it was late. One noticeable bug would be the missing string of the player’s name on the Raid crystal if they disconnect from the party. There are instances of floating Pokeballs during battles. I’ve experienced the first crash on a Pokémon game from Scarlet and Violet too. Press Up + X + B at the main menu to access backup saves.
Coop definitely could be better
The state of the coop works but it definitely needs improvement. I will give it a pass since it’s the first iteration. Each player has to connect to the host first before setting out. Thus everyone is kicked out when the host gets disconnected. If someone disconnects, the party has to disband first and set up the process again in order to rejoin. The party teleports and assembles in a random Poke Center too. It’s not a seamless coop. There should be a drop-in / drop out session while a link code is running.
Some Pokémon couldn’t keep up with me running (and forget about exploring side by side while riding Koraidon/Miraidon). When they fall behind too far, they go back to their Pokeball instead of teleporting next to you. This breaks the adventure immersion. But more importantly, this is a problem when evolving a Pokémon by walking 1000 steps.
I also get annoyed at the numerous text prompts. The events sequence in Pokémon Legends: Arceus is painless. The combat and exploration there is smooth in fact. The text prompts in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet are annoying; the clutter of text prompts plus the lengthy animation eats away time in Raids! I GET IT. LET ME PLAY. It turned me off as much as the performance dips. Turning the text speed to fast helps a bit, but there are times when I clearly understand at what’s happening already. The same can be said with cutscenes. It’s not about turning cutscenes off but we should be able to skip them.
It’s difficult to take a groupie with your mons during picnics. They may be facing away, asleep, or out of frame. It’s sheer frustration when you have a good shot, then one mon walks up close and disappear. You’re lucky to have three mons with you in one shot. There should be a way to move while taking a selfie or be able to assemble your mons for a nice memorable shot.
Special events are happening too fast for those with a busy schedule. We missed the first run on the Charizard Tera event. But we were fortunate enough to get a Charmander from surprise trades. I also missed a Pokémon code for random sandwich ingredients that I found out on Dec. 16 and expired on Dec. 18.
Is Pokémon Scarlet and Violet worth it? The short answer is Yes. It’s a Pokémon game that I was anticipating: a 3D open environment with open ended progression. Japanese charts reported that PSV overtakes Splatoon 3 in sales. Obviously, Nintendo will plan to capitalize with an expansion (like Sword/Shield). There are times when you enjoy the game, and there are moments when you want to shout at the game. Certainly, there is space for QoL and performance improvements in the game.
If you love Pokémon games, it’s hard to pass on PSV with the risk of missing a lot of content and events including Pokémons from the previous gen. The gameplay is good with a doable shiny hunting. The performance and optimization on the game is borderline horrible and should be improved with later updates. Raid times should be improved. Overall, I don’t feel like I wasted my money despite having both titles. I’m having fun on single-player, and I’m having fun on coop too. Due to being turned off by the bugs/problems, it’s sad that not all Pokémon fans will enjoy the story’s absolute gem of an ending.
Check out my peer’s article (an avid PC gamer): since it’s his FIRST EVER Pokémon game on the console. The guy bought the Switch OLED so he can join the Nintendo action.