Pokemon Scarlet and Violet In-Depth Review

After years of waiting, a true open-world Pokemon game is finally upon us with Scarlet and Violet, and it pushes the series in a whole new direction with a huge world, a grander story, new Pokemon…and some big problems too, like some major performance issues. Oof.. Between three main story scenarios spread across the first open world Pokemon game, are Scarlet and Violet a strong start for a new Era of Pokemon or does it buckle under the weight of lofty ambition? Let’s find out in GameXplain’s review of Pokemon Scarlet and Violet. Like many other open world games, if

you can see, you can go to it. …Eventually, at least. Because much of the world is gated off until you upgrade the motorcycle-like Pokemon you’re gifted early in to the game.with abilities like swimming, gliding and climbing! Each one opens the world even further, expanding your exploration options which is not only rewarding, but helps keep you an active participant in the game’s story. Unlike Pokemon Legends Arceus, which divided its world into five regions as more of an open zone style game, Pokemon Scarlet and Violet are fully open world. With the exception of the main city of

Mesagoza and the Academy within, this world is freely explorable without interruption. This region is by far the largest of any Pokemon game. Even the smallest routes have a ton to explore, with different

Pokemon to encounter, items to collect, and trainers to battle! Many of them can be found off the main path, and I found it exciting to find new opponents in unexpected areas, especially as one who loves battling. The Pokemon games have always been about going on an adventure …but this is the first time where it truly felt like I was embarking on an epic

quest with my Pokemon pals. Battles taking place exactly where you are in the world rather than some separate location, setting up picnics wherever we want to play with our party Pokemon, or exploring the world with my partner Pokemon at my side, auto-battling to its hearts content…The essence of an open world beautifully compliments the trainer’s journey through a Pokemon game. Furthermore, the more open gameplay means you can technically challenge the gyms in any order! But because they all feaure pre-set levels that don’t scale, there is a clear order intended for you to tackle them in. Especially

since it’ll be even more challengeing without getting the earlier gym badges first, as you won’t be able to catch Pokemon of a much higher level. I tried challenging some of the more difficult gyms out of order about halfway through my own run and found myself suitably challenged. And I actually really enjoyed the change in pace! Sure, it meant that some of my later gyms that I initially skipped ended up being a bit easier by comparison, but that gave me an opportunity to train up some additional Pokemon beyond my core team. Otherwise, gyms function nearly identically

to before, with a mini–game based challenge followed by a gym leader battle, only now with the new addition of Terastallization heavily factoring in, but we’ll touch more on that later. Unfortunately, the open world isn’t without its flaws…some pretty big ones at that. Like how the world itself is pretty rough looking at times, distant areas don’t look nearly as visually impressive the game presents them to be. Yeeeeah. Even worse, there are significant performance issues here in the Open World. Forget random encounters, as Random slowdown is your worst enemy here. And although it can hit at any

time, it’s even more common when there’s a lot of characters on screen at the same time. Furthermore Pokemon, and objects pop into view constantly– sometimes when they’re nearly right in front of your face–and it’s very distracting. The general overworld controls can also feel a bit slow at times, especially when rotating the camera around. And that’s not to mention the lack of a “reset view” button to focus the camera back behind the player. And yet, the world is undeniably fun to explore despite these issues. I kept getting sidetracked whenever I’d spot a Pokemon off the beaten

path, or perhaps the glint of a nearby collectible, or maybe even another point of interest that caught my eye! There’s often a domino effect where one distraction leads to another, and then another, and so on…and I love it.…exploring a Pokemon world has never been this captivating, and sometimes it’s hard to stop in order to focus on the main adventure… Especially when the new Pokemon are THIS GOOD. There are so many amazing new designs. And I don’t just mean Fuecoco, Bellibolt, and the ones previously announced! But unfortunately, we can’t show off some of the best new

designs due to the embargo, but I can at least say they are fantastic. Even the new Paldean forms and new Pokemon takes on old classics, such as Wiglett, are really fascinating! We’ve been getting regional variants for a while now, and I’ve loved that idea since it first began. But getting Pokemon intentionally designed to be like other kinds? It just makes the world feel more realistic and alive. If there’s any downside to having so many great new designs, it’s that it’s been hard to decide on a team, because I wanted to use nearly all of them.

But that actually plays to the game’s open world strengths, as you’re encouraged to build multiple teams depending on the situation. Use the Pokemon you want to, and have others waiting on the bench to be swapped in at a moment’s notice. The open world format has also completely changed how the plot works, as there are essentially three main story threads that you can engage with at just about any time, being Victory Road , Path of Legends, and Starfall Street. And they work together to tell a larger story, that explores the theme of identifying one’s treasure, whether

its becoming a Pokemon Champion, finding literal treasure, or discovering the friends made along the way. – And the combined narrative results in one of the most interesting stories we’ve ever had in a main Pokemon title. One of those stories is Victory Road, and it’s essentially the traditional Pokemon adventure with 8 gym badges to acquire in order to take on the Pokemon League and achieve the Champion Rank. Yep, that means multiple trainers can hold the title this time. And your rival, Nemona just happens to already have it too. And She is by far one of my

favorite rivals we’ve ever had in the Pokemon series because of the way she treats you, encouraging you to achieve the same status to stand together as equal rivals.instead of constantly trying to prove herself as being better. And with that change, her role makes a lot of sense in the context of the world. She’s already had her adventure, now she wants to see you go through yours so she has someone to share the experience with. During my journey, I found the gyms to be genuinely entertaining, and I really liked having Nemona as a rival. Although The

presentation of the Gym Challenge is far less grandiose than it was in Sword and Shield, I appreciated that it felt closer to its more humble days in previous Pokemon generations. The presence of Gyms and the Pokemon League still feel important to the region and its culture, but are better integrated than being just a sporting event. Beyond the gyms, there’s the Pokemon League too, which feels rightfully intimidating in its presentation. Maybe this is due to being a long-time casual Pokemon fan, but I loved Victory Road. And it’s also the longest of these main story scenarios, making

its climax and finale stand out pretty significantly. It may overshadow the other two stories a bit, but boy is it as satisfying as ever to get through. For the first time these games have really captured how I have always imagined the gym battles to be in this world. Battles that capture the attention of onlooking fans in a public setting, excited to see if the challenger can earn their gym badge or if their favorite gym leader can stop them. It may be less grandiose, but it feels more authentic. There are two other stories outside of Victory

Road. Path of Legends, which follows Arven and his hunt for the Herba Mystica, taking out enormous Titan Pokemon along the way, and Starfall Street, following the quest to take out Team Star, a team of delinquent students causing trouble for the academy. Both of these are smaller in scale than Victory Road, but that doesn’t make them less important. Through Path of Legends, you learn more about the Paldea Region as a whole and the mysteries surrounding it, while Starfall Street teaches more about the Academy and its students. I really enjoyed what both of these stories offered, between

the silly moments, character developments, and challenges presented. But I can’t help feeling both of them could have presented their stories a bit differently as. They both rely too heavily on big exposition dumps after clearing an objective, and frankly, I would have preferred the information to be spread out more. That, and these two stories as a whole felt a bit too short and a bit too formulaic. In Path of Legends you find the Titan, beat it, then get exposition from Arven. In Starfall Street you take out a grunt, do auto battles to take out 30 grunt

Pokemon, battle the leader, and get exposition. Having more to do for each would have been nice, whether more battles or minigames – just something to mix it up and feel less repetitive. Despite these gripes, I really enjoyed going through all three stories, especially with how they all come together in the end. Part of what makes the stories so compelling are the ensemble of characters, as they actually feel alive and are among the best we’ve ever had in the series. Not only do The Gym Leaders and Team Star Leaders all have some great character designs, but

they’re written well with some strong personalities too. The Academy staff, in particular, stand out. The teachers are about as varied as the gym leaders, with each having a clear type associated with them, and they all have a lot of personality. And theirtheir classes actually serve a useful purpose, providing well-written tips, and lessons on different mechanics that a casual player may not know! Biology, for example, teaches about shiny Pokemon and how to get Pokemon eggs, math teaches the critical hit rate and numbers involved for stat boosters, history informs you of other potential legendaries hiding around the

region…it’s all very interesting and is sure to help in all kinds of ways, including Pokemon Battles. Speaking of which, although Pokémon battles are essentially the same as they’ve always been, some New moves, new Pokemon, and new abilities make it more exciting than ever!. Terastallization is perhaps the biggest addition, which allows a trainer to essentially toggle the Pokemon into a second form on a temporary basis. Sometimes it’ll change a Pokemon into a completely different type, say turning a Sudowoodo from a rock type, into grass, but at others it’ll make them a more a powered-up version of

their existing type! The catch with Terastallization is that you can only do it once, PERIOD, until you recharge it at a Pokemon Center, making it something of a rarity, as you’ll only want to deploy it when you need it most, such as during Gym Battles. Otherwise you’ll have to backtrack to a Pokemon Center constantly to regain its use. It adds an exciting risk vs reward in battle, as you don’t want to waste the opportunity given you only have one shot at it. And unlike some previous gimmicks from past games, it integrates into the general battle

flow much more organically, without being a dominating force in every battle, like Dynamaxing. Tera Raid Battles takes the idea even further, where players can group up with other players or computer allies to take out a Terastalized Pokemon in order to capture it before time expires. And these Pokemon often have Tera Types unique from their own, making them more valuable! And since you no longer need to wait for other players to take their turns, Raid battles feel much faster paced and more engaging than before! On higher star difficulties, these can get quite difficult. Overall, they’re a

great addition, and I look forward to playing raids with my friends when the games release! During battle, you now also have free control of the camera most of the time, but it’s kind of awful, as it limits you to a zoomed out view that you can spin around, and…it doesn’t really help at all. Not only is it limited, but it disables the dynamic camera angles you’d normally see. Thankfully, you can click the Right Stick to reset the camera back to the usual normal dynamic view we’re used to…most of the time. But if you’re battling on

a slope or in some location that would obscure the default camera, you’re stuck with the free camera! And that camera just loves to clip out of bounds any chance it gets, breaking through the model of the walls and ground. And it doesn’t help that battles suffer from their own performance issues. If there’s multiple Pokemon in the background, you’ll see them slow down and lag a bit. Sometimes there’s an awkward amount of time between some actions, such as sending your Pokemon out, throwing Pokeballs, and battles ending. Lighting and shadows also seem to break fairly easily in

battles too, randomly flickering the environmental shadows on the ground. Presentation aside, the actual battle gameplay feel great, with Terastallizing adding a nice additional layer of strategy without detracting from the gameplay. If you ever get tired of battling wild Pokemon, a new option called Auto Battle might be up your alley, allowing you to have your lead Pokemon accompany you in the overworld and quickly take on any Wild Pokemon in the vicinity. And this offers a fantastic break from the usual grind to level up your Pokemon, as it works exceptionally well when you’re trying to build up

a large team! Just keep an eye on your Pokemon’s health, and make sure you’re not setting them up for failure with an unfavorable matchup. But don’t worry too much, as they’ll always find their way back to you, even if they’re just barely hanging on for dear life. Team Star bases take auto battles even further, challenging players to take out 30 Pokemon in 10 minutes using the first 3 Pokemon in their party. These can be a little finicky, with Pokemon sometimes not responding to your orders properly, but on the whole it’s a faster, better alternative to

previous Pokemon titles sending you into enemy bases to battle 10-plus grunts in a base. Plus, they can make for a fun challenge! Not surprisingly, The performance gets a little choppy here as well, with lots happening on screen at once. Thankfully, the music is pretty great across the board.The wild battle theme builds off of the more mellow nature of the surrounding area’s music and adds more instruments to up the energy. It’s a really cool idea and I dig how many battle themes it leads to! Furthermore, Nemona’s theme is charming, the Team Star leaders have an exciting

battle theme, and the gym leaders? The crowd cheering during the final Pokemon is back, and I loved that part of the gym battles back in Sword and Shield, so it’s great to have it back here! Unfortunately, the UI is a bit of a mixed bag, with some really good quality of life improvements along with some really questionable decisions. The battle UI is familiar, but smartly condensed to show only what’s needed on screen. It’s in the overworld when it gets a bit messier, with a ton of confusing submenus and options scattered all over the place. There’s

also the minimap, where Pokemon sometimes appear. But it doesn’t indicate where the Pokemon actually are, Instead, it’s more of a glimpse as to what Pokemon can be found in the general area. Yeah, that’s…a little misleading. There’s shortcuts using the Dpad as well. You can emote, which is handy for playing online with others, change your outfit or look, open photo mode, or check notifications…which is where you can see how much time remains on your active meal powers! Having these shortcuts was nice…but I’d much prefer it be shortcuts we can set ourselves. Like Key Items in older

Pokemon games. But there are nice changes, such as how quick it is to access your party Pokemon on the left side of the menu to quickly heal them or change the leader with the quick press of a single button. But the main thing I want to address while we’re talking about the menus is the strange amount of lag they have. Especially when launching the PC Boxes. Although they seem to open instantly, they then fade to black, then fade back in before you can actually use them. And the Pokemon within the boxes themselves are constantly loading

in and out pretty slowly. the menus just feel highly unoptimized. And that lack of optimization is prevalent throughout Scarlet and Violet. We’ve already talked about the laggy confusing menus, and the awful camera controls in battle. And surely a “reset view” button in the overworld would have been more helpful than the zoom out button that…breaks the camera a lot. There are a lot of other issues that consistently come up too. Objects and characters popping into view way too close to the player, lighting and shadows glitching out during battles, a consistent lag when riding on water, random

bouts of lag when in battles especially if multiple wild Pokemon are spectating from the overworld…and one that I’ve only just encountered when nearly finishing writing up this review: this great ball spawning in the entryway of every building I enter? What?! These issues are not only consistent, they’re frequent. Which is a massive shame. Now I’m pretty sure some of this be patched, and I really hope they are, because it was frequent enough that it truly was starting to impact my experience with the game. Strangely enough, the performance issues are actually less prevalent when playing in handheld

mode. Perhaps this is because of the lower resolution and locked frame rate, but I’ve noticed significantly less slowdown when undocked. The game, just seems to run better overall in handheld, and I might say handheld mode is the preferred experience here. Which isn’t surprising for a series that has spent the bulk of its 25+ years on handhelds. but it’s still disappointing that there’s a noticeable difference in performance when docked. Maybe Pokemon Scarlet and Violet were the real treasures all along, because the Paldea region, with everything it has to offer–warts and all– is one of my favorites.

With a myriad of well written characters, incredible new Pokemon designs, interesting new mechanics like Terastallizing, exciting stories that kept my interest with its “treasure hunting” themes, and an open world that’s an absolute joy to explore I was so close to loving Pokemon Scarlet and Violet…but I don’t. The performance issues truly impacted my experience more than I would have liked, as they raised their ugly heads quite frequently and quite obviously. But Despite the subpar performance of the games, I Liked Pokemon Scarlet and Violet A Lot, and open world is still the clear future for the series,

as I had a blast in spite of its issues, to the point that it’s been difficult to put the game down. Although seeing that one Pokeball in every freaking house I entered did make it just a little easier. With that, thank you all so much for watching our review of Pokemon Scarlet and Violet. We’ll have a ton of video coverage on these titles in the coming days, so stay tuned for various guides, tips, features and more on the newest generation of Pokemon! And be sure to let us know your thoughts on these games down below

as you get to experience them for yourself! Until next time…farewell!

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