Pokemon Scarlet and Violet preview round-up: Everything we learned

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Earlier this month, Nintendo and the Pokemon Company invited members of the press to actually sit down and try about a solid hour of the upcoming Pokemon Scarlet and Pokemon Violet games to, essentially, answer their own questions. Now despite me doing some EXTENSIVE writing on Pokemon, covering all the games, and genuinely being a very positive voice about Pokemon I was not considered for this.

I’m fine. I’m fine. I’ll be fine. I’m…

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Sorry, ahem, where was I? Oh, yeah. So, let’s get into what was discovered about the game from the information that was released, shall we? Info dump time!

The first thing I noticed is that while many, many people were allowed to play this demo, they were allowed to leave with their impressions but not footage. Everyone who talks about what they reveal shows the exact same five-minute video. There are also certain things that they cannot talk about. For example, they’re allowed to talk about the fact that they fought the vehicle itself at the end of Starfall Street but they are NOT allowed to give details on it.

The world is much bigger than originally anticipated with no invisible walls or loading screens separating the majority of them. Obviously, going into buildings and things like that will trigger some sort of loading but for the most part, it’s a seamless open world.

One of the people playing the game was even told that they could go directly to the end of the game if they wanted to though I’m sure it would merely be an exercise in regret without higher-level Pokemon. This DOES make it interesting though if Pokemon Home gets integrated with a meaningful timeline and people can bring over stronger Pokemon out the gate.

The bike-like legendaries, Miraidon for Violet and Koraidon for Scarlet, seem to be available really early in the game. It will be interesting to see how the story gets you there, but Sword and Shield had you encounter the legendaries really early too. The only difference is that you’ll get a cool new mount as opposed to Zacian and Zamazenta trolling you for a bit until you pass out, leaving you unconscious on the forest floor…rude.

The legendary mounts are also able to switch travel mode without needing input or switching, unlike in Arceus where you had to switch to a climber than to a glider, etc. And the mount is capable of swimming, climbing, and gliding seemingly out the gate meaning nothing is really locked away behind a plot device.

Almost every single person that reviewed the demo seemed very quick to describe the world as Breath of the Wild-esque which makes me wonder if they were promoted or if the similarities are really that strong.

The three different story modes seem to all have sharp gameplay differences. The Victory Road path leads you on the traditional eight gyms and a champion storyline all Pokemon fans should be familiar with. The Starfall Street path has you finding enemy bases in which you have to defeat a set amount of Pokemon within ten minutes before facing off against that base’s boss. The Path of Legends seems to have a bit of similarity to Pokemon Legends Arceus’s research missions in which you rove the landscape looking for larger-than-normal Pokemon and investigating interesting phenomena.

One thing to note is that a lot of the people who tried the Starfall Street battle mentioned that at the end when they fought the boss on her giant vehicle, they actually had to FIGHT the vehicle. What REALLY makes this interesting for me is that they were under strict rules to not talk about it more than that which tells me that their vehicles are actually Pokemon, which makes the rooftop exhaust’s appearance make a lot more sense now.

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With the incredibly rare exceptions, there are no random wild Pokemon encounters. If you see a wild Pokemon, you can avoid it. Some people reported that sometimes the tall grass makes it difficult to see the smaller Pokemon leading to them running directly into them. But if you played Sword and Shield you’ve learned to give tall grass a certain glance first.

The only thing I didn’t like is that while you can throw a Pokeball at wild Pokemon it no longer catches them like it did in Pokemon Legends Arceus (which clearly stole my heart). Instead dinging them with a Pokeball initiates a battle which, makes me wonder why you’d even throw a Pokeball in the first place.

When you engage with a wild Pokemon, the game eliminates a lot of the more three-dimensional textures around the battle before starting. This is really good because there were moments in Pokemon Legends Arceus where I battled something only to find the camera in a bush or something. I appreciate that.

There will also be no sudden trainer battles. Which made me cheer. You will still see Pokemon Trainers littering the landscape but, instead of them being weird sociopaths that stop you on your way to save the world, you’ll see they want to battle and, if you want, you can approach them and offer to battle them. While I definitely love the ability to skip them, especially as I get into a lot of situations where I worry that all the trainers between me and my next stop might get some of my Pokemon to strong to obey me, I also feel like I might tend to forget to level my Pokemon.

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Speaking of leveling Pokemon, auto-battle has a surprising feature. When using the Let’s Go feature, when defeating a Pokemon, you’ll notice a significant dip in experience points gained from this method.

This is good for two reasons. One, because it’ll stop you from accidentally power leveling. And two, you need a lot of drops.

If you plan on making TMs a thing to note that many reviewers pointed out is that you don’t get the recipes for the TMs until you have the necessary items to make them so you’ll want to be getting as many different drops as possible. If you leveled normally during this you’d be level 100 by the fifth gym.

Oh, and don’t worry, you know I’ll have a TM guide for you when the game drops. I got you.

Character Customization got a TON of praise. Your player is a genderless base form and you can customize them as you see fit. No outfits, clothing options, cosmetic items, etc, are gender locked. You can even change the head shape. Oddly, while you need to go to a stylist to change your hairstyle you can change your head shape at any point which…makes me worried about their bone structure.

Also, there was a few comments about the clothing options and having a wide selection despite the trailers and footage never showing us anything beyond the school uniforms.

There’s also no voice acting. I guess that’s to be expected and I’m not surprised but after the Iono trailer dropped and she was speaking I got excited.

Despite what the early trailers made it look like, don’t worry, the Pokeballs will still have their three trademark wiggle jiggles before capturing. It looked truly bizarre in the trailer when they one-and-done the Pokemon.

The Pokecenters have an interesting feature alongside healing them. There’s an option called “I don’t know where to go” where they can give you an idea of where you need to head should you get lost or overwhelmed.

This is minor but the crowds chant during gym leader battles. This made me, personally, really happy because Pokemon fights become a lot more interesting when it sounds like you’re surrounded by drunken soccer hooligans.

Despite what the earlier trailers made it look like, you do get to pick your attacks in raid battles. The first trailers made it look like they fought automatically but you do get to pick your move.

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There’s no word yet if you can skip the Terastallizing animation. I genuinely hope there is though because while it looks really pretty, I bet that lengthy animation gets old after the first few hundred views.

Pokemon Scarlet and Pokemon Violet launches exclusively for Nintendo Switch on November 18.