Why I Am Excited About Pokémon Scarlet/Violet
And why you should be too
It may not seem like that long ago we got a new Pokémon game, and that is because it wasn’t. Just this past January we got Pokémon: Legends Arceus and it was a great change of pace from the franchise. Sure we have had spinoffs before, but nothing quite like that.
Legends Arceus set a lot of the framework for what we are expecting from Scarlet & Violet. The main element is the open-world design of the game. While Arceus was lacking in some of the depth we were hoping for, it was still a blast to run around the vast landscape to catch Pokémon. Scarlet & Violet look to have that with even more towns and cities to explore along the way.
In 2019, which to many seems like just the other day, we saw the release of Sword & Shield. This was the first mainline Pokémon game on the Switch and had many excited for Pokémon again. You can find numerous articles and videos online about people’s dissatisfaction with the game, but I am currently on my second play through and I am having a blast. Even with some of the valid issues raised about Sword & Shield, I think Scarlet & Violet will make up for a lot of what we have been missing.
Ever since the X/Y generation, we have been given a new gimmick in how our Pokémon can become stronger in battle. We had Mega Evolve, Z-Moves, Dynamax, and now Terastallize or Tera. The core concept of all gimmicks is to give short-lived powerful moves to Pokémon that make the battles more exciting and mix things up. Many of the previous moves had their limitations to keep things fair. A general rule is that they could only be used once per battle. In cases like Mega Evolving, only certain Pokémon could use it. With each generation, special moves were made available to more Pokemon.
Tera, like Mega and Dynamax, changes the look of the Pokémon that use the moves. This new gimmick gives the Pokémon a crystalized look all over, and a rather large crown on their head that changes depending on what type of Tera it is. Admittedly some look a little silly, and others look alright at best. I believe the main reason for this instead of just a color change is to quickly identify the Tera type being used in battle.
Tera-moves seem to be keeping to the theme of activating only once per battle, but the form change will remain active until the end of the battle, or perhaps if the Pokémon is withdrawn or defeated. What makes them similar to others is the ability for more powerful moves. What sets them apart is that they can change the typing of the Pokémon. This alone has the potential to completely change how battles are done.
Let’s say you have a strong fire-type Pokémon, going against a grass type. Should be an easy enough victory. Then the competitor switches to a water type. You Tera your fire type into a grass type. Now you have just defeated two of their Pokémon without ever showing a weakness.
It will likely be a little more complex than that, as the opponent will also have access to this. There is also some question if there will be a stronger or more advanced form of Tera like we saw with Dynamax & Gigantamax. Where Dynamax was standard with any Pokémon, making them stronger, Gigantamax was reserved for certain Pokémon and they became even stronger and a new form.
A Pokémon open-world game is something many fans, myself included, have wanted to see for years now. We had high hopes with Sword & Shield when we saw the wild area, but that was a limited portion of the game. With DLC we saw this expanded a bit, but never fully open world. Going from gym to gym still required following a path, and a set camera angle.
Legends Arceus changed this and provided us with what we had been wanting, with one exception. The game is open-world, but there is only a single town on the entire map. There are some settlements here and there, but nothing really to do aside from quest completion. In many ways, this felt like a test for a much larger project, a proof of concept if you will.
Scarlet & Violet seem to have really opened this up more. Multiple towns and villages to explore, different terrain and climates as well. The map was uploaded to the official website shortly after the announcement of the region name, Paldea.
At first glance of the map, it looks fairly standard for a Pokémon Region. One thing of note, especially compared to the Galar Region is that it is almost circular. Implies going around it multiple times from any direction.
Looking closely it can be seen there are still paths leading from one area to another to some degree, which is fine, but the important aspect is the explorable area in between and around the towns/cities.
Now the open world can be a little misleading to some as generally, you cannot go anywhere on the map right from the start. There will be some amount of story to follow first. This was true with Legends Arceus, and looking at the map will be somewhat true with the Paldea Region.
The starting area is at the bottom center of the map. It has a clear path to follow with a few possible offshoots on your way to the main city. Once you are in the city is when things appear to open up. You then can go left or right, each vastly different in what you can explore. The official site claims you can complete the gyms in any order, but I have a feeling the ice gym at the top center of the map will be a challenge if you try to beat it as your first gym. (If you can even get there right away)
With any new main series Pokémon game, with it comes new Pokémon to catch. This has been true since the original sequels to the first games. This game is no different and so far we have already been shown a handful of them. Most likely to be found in the first starting area, aside from the two legendaries that have been revealed. Alongside some returning Pokémon, as of writing this, we have been shown 12 ‘new’ Pokémon. One of them is a regional variant of the popular Wooper. This time taking on a poison/ground typing.
Another standard since the start is three new starter Pokémon to choose from. (Legends Arceus is the only one that reused old starters, and it technically isn’t a main series game.) The three starters to choose from have always been, fire, grass, or water. Long-time fans of the game typically have their favorite type and go with that in each new game to start.
I have been a Water type fan since my first playthrough of Crystal when I was a kid, but in more recent games I have chosen the starter that I liked the best. Pokémon Scarlet & Violet introduced three starters that for the first time since X/Y have me actually excited. The two generations had me picking the water type out of habit until I found a better Pokémon. Of course, this is up to each person’s own preferences. Personally, I am opting for the grass starter Sprigatito.
So while we don’t know everything about the new games yet, I think there is a lot to look forward to. New open region to explore, new Pokémon to catch and train, and a new gimmick that I am sure will cause some chaos. Don’t go into this game expecting the hardest game you have ever played, or top-of-the-line graphics, but go in like you did when you were a kid and have some fun. That’s what these games are about in the end, having fun and going on a journey with your new friends.