This has been a big year for fans of catching ‘em all, as Nintendo and Game Freak launched Pokémon Legends: Arceus in January, and now they’re preparing to drop the next core entry in the series, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. It’s been three years since the last mainline game, Pokémon Sword and Shield, came out, so Poké hunger is at its peak.
Game Freak is promising some big changes for Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, including a full open world, non-linear progression, and co-op play. While there are some questions about whether Game Freak's dated tech is up to the job, this is undoubtedly their most ambitious effort yet. Here’s everything an aspiring trainer needs to know about Pokémon Scarlet and Violet…
Setting and Story
Pokémon Scarlet and Violet take place in the new Paldea region, which is said to be vaguely inspired by Spain and Portugal. The game has a somewhat Harry-Potter-esque setup, with the player visiting a Pokémon academy instead of just wandering off to make their way in the world. Here you’ll meet the usual cast of Pokémon RPG personalities, which may differ depending on whether you buy the Scarlet or Violet version of the game. These include Professors Sada or Turo, your friendly rival Nemona, and various other characters. As usual with Pokémon, don’t expect the most epic or emotionally complex story, but it seems like there should be some likable characters to hang out with.
Is this the open-world Pokémon I’ve been waiting for?
While we still have to wait to see how well Game Freak executes the concept, it seems the answer could be “yes.” Pokémon Scarlet and Violet will present a full open-world, with players able to explore as they see fit with few restrictions. Somewhat similar to Pokémon Legends: Arceus released earlier this year, collectible critters will actually appear in the overworld, rather than popping up randomly like in the past (although the behaviour they exhibit won’t be as complex).
For those who don’t want to just wander randomly, the game will essentially offer three campaigns to follow, which you can switch between as you desire. Victory Road is your traditional “collect the gym badges” challenge, although this time you can tackle them in whatever order you want. Meanwhile, Path of Legends will see you hunting down huge Titan Pokémon, and Starfield Street will see you do battle with Team Star (this game’s Team-Rocket-style bad guys).
Can I play with my friends?
Yes, and in a much less limited way than in the past. In addition to standard stuff, like trading and engaging in friendly battles, up to four players will be able to explore the world of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet together. It seems you’ll likely need an online connection and multiple copies of the game to team up, as there's been no mention of any sort of offline mode.
While you’re free to just mess around with buddies, the main co-op feature of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet are “Tera Raid Battles,” in which you and your fellow players take on powerful Terastallized Pokémon under a time limit (scroll on down for more info about the whole Terastallizing thing). Meanwhile, for the more adversarial folks out there, the competitive Battle Stadium also returns.
How have battles changed?
For the most part, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet’s battles will still be familiar turn-based affairs. That said, you will now encounter some Pokémon that have been “Terastallized,” giving them a shiny crystal-like shell and enhanced abilities. You can also Terastallize your own critters with special rechargeable orbs, some of which will be able to change your critter’s type, giving you more versatility in battle.
The other big change to battling in Scarlet and Violet is that… you don’t have to if you don’t want to. You can set one of your Pokémon to fight wild Pokémon passively, allowing you to explore freely and collect XP without having to worry about constant battles. Similarly, battles with other trainers won’t be forced on you anymore – only you can initiate them.
What are some of the quirky extras I can play around with?
In addition to catching ‘em all, following the three main story paths, and goofing around with friends, there will be the usual variety of side activities to mess with. Pokémon Scarlet and Violet lets you assemble and eat picnics, because you can’t catch ‘em all on an empty stomach. There are also new options for customizing your character and a full photo mode to tinker with.
Will the game include the full Pokedex?
Unfortunately, no. Starting with Pokémon Sword and Shield, Game Freak stopped allowing players to import and play with all existing Pokémon varieties. The same will hold true for Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. We don’t know how big the Scarlet and Violet Pokedex will be at launch, but Sword and Shield launched with 400 catchable critters, so expect something similar. There’s also a very good chance DLC will add more Pokémon down the line.
What are some of the new Pokémon coming to the game?
Of course, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet will have a variety new critters to collect. While the flow of new Pokémon has slowed in recent years, 20 have been revealed so far, with more to come. Most importantly, we have our new starters, the grass type Sprigatito, the fire type Fuecoco, and water type Quaxly (who quickly became the Internet's favorite, obviously).
There are also the new legendary Pokémon Koraidon and Miraidon, which will be important companions in your Scarlet and Violet journey as both of them can be used as vehicles, transforming into Poke-cycles and gliders to get around the map.
Other highlights include the chubby electric frog Bellibolt, the oddly-intimidating Farigiraf, and the bready dog Fidough. You can check out a gallery of announced Scarlet and Violet creatures, below.
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Pricing, platform, release date, and limited edition
Pokémon Scarlet and Violet will arrive on Nintendo Switch on November 18 of this year. As is tradition, Scarlet and Violet will be offered as two slightly different games for $60 apiece. That said, Nintendo will also be offering the Pokémon Scarlet and Violet Double Pack for $120. No, you’re not missing anything, you don’t get any deal for buying the Double Pack – it’s simply a way to get both games if you absolutely have to experience every scrap of content. You can pre-order here.
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