I know that Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet have had extremely mixed reviews, especially regarding graphical glitching and loading times, but so far in Scarlet, I've been having a great time! The game took many of the things I adored in Pokémon Legends Arceus and incorporated them into a more classically formulated game in the franchise, which is exactly what I'd hoped would happen.
That being said, there are a few tips I can give that will make the experience of playing the games quite a bit easier. So, here's what you need to know going into Pokémon Scarlet or Violet.
This is an open world - enjoy it!
Like Pokémon Legends Arceus before it, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet are open-world games, which means that you can progress through the map in any direction you like, in any order, moving around as much as you want to, and still run into story everywhere. So, I highly suggest doing that!
There are three main storylines to follow in the games:
- Earning the eight gym badges and defeating the Elite 4, the classic Pokémon game progression mechanic
- Defeating all five Team Star bases and bosses to take down Operation Starfall, a variation on the usual evil team mechanic with some really fun fight mechanics
- Gathering special herbs from eight legendary titan Pokémon scattered around the region to assist Arvin and his scientist parent in their research, a new storyline that builds on the setup of Arceus
You can choose to focus on one questline or do all three in scattered pieces (as a note, though, you do definitely have to participate in all three questlines to open up the map and activate all of your rideable Pokémon's abilities). You can also spend time taking classes at the school, battling and capturing wild Pokémon, and customizing your character with items from all of the major cities.
Bonus tip: riding on your Pokémon bike friend will help you move a heck of a lot faster than traveling on foot. There's also a fast travel mechanic now (finally) - USE IT!
Let your Pokémon explore
Another excellent thing that's carried over from Arceus is the ability to bring your Pokémon out outside of battle. Now, you can have your little friends walking with you - they can even do small tasks and take a picnic with you!
How picnics work
Picnics are an adorable mechanic where you can set up a picnic table in an open area of the map and heal and rest your Pokémon on the go. It's great for when you're in the middle of a long trail between two towns and running low on healing options.
You can wash your Pokémon to become better friends with them (which is adorable in and of itself) as well as make sandwiches that offer bonuses for catching, battling, breeding, and more.
I highly recommend trying this at least once if for no other reason than seeing your little Pokémon party frolicking in a field. Simply open the menu with X and select "Picnic." You have to be in a relatively flat and open area to do this.
Auto battles and resource gathering
Like Arceus, this game lets you send out a Pokémon while you're walking. Unlike Arceus, though, you can only send out your lead Pokémon, whom you can set in the menu using Y. While they're out, you can send your little leader to collect drops and do auto battles against wild Pokémon.
Firstly, I highly recommend chasing any and all resource drops you see while you're out! These drops are marked with yellow and red glowing beacons and contain all manner of useful items from potions (including Hyper Potions) to TMs that you can't find anywhere else. Simply run over the drop and hit A or point your character at the drop and hit the right trigger to send your Pokémon to get it.
Second, auto-battling is a great way to avoid tiresome grinding for levels and annoying wild Pokémon ambushes. As an added bonus, EXP is automatically shared across your party, which makes leveling a Magikarp into a Gyarados significantly easier. Once again, just hit the right trigger to send out your Pokémon, then the right button to send them into an auto battle. If they get beat up, they'll come back to you for healing - no knockouts here!
Please use your Tera orb
One of the new mechanics introduced in Scarlet/Violet is Terastellizing, a power-up ability for your Pokémon that you can use in battles and in specialized events in the game.
I can't emphasize this enough: USE YOUR TERA ORB! When you're in a tight spot or just particularly want to win a fight, use your Tera orb and let your Pokémon Terastellize. This will offer your Pokémon an awesome boost that can tip the scales of a fight in your favor.
Also, if your enemy uses Terastellizing, you should be using it too; otherwise, you're putting yourself at a disadvantage regardless of type matching.
Understanding Tera types
With Terastellizing comes a new element to Pokémon categorization: Tera types. Tera types are a secondary (or sometimes tertiary) Pokémon typing that determines how Terastellizing will benefit your Pokémon.
When your Pokémon is Terastellized, any move matching their Tera type gains a significant bonus when used, making super-effective matchups even more devastating and not-very-effective matchups more even.
Understanding how Star base raids work
So I will admit that something I don't like about Scarlet/Violet is how little there is in the way of explanation for how some of the new mechanics involved - the most frustrating of which is the Team Star bases. Fighting a Team Star base can utterly confuse and frustrate a new player if they're not prepped in advance for what's going to happen, so here's the rundown for you.
Picking your top three Pokémon
Outside of the base, you'll face a quick battle against a grunt. After that fight (which is relatively easy), you'll have the option to hit a button and start your raid on the base.
During this raid, you'll only be allowed to bring in the first three Pokémon in your party. These three Pokémon will auto-battle a hoard of Pokémon released by Team Star - basically, it's as if you ar in the middle of an extremely populated wild Pokémon patch. You'll need to defeat 30 Pokémon in 10 minutes to unlock the boss battle.
I recommend choosing these three Pokémon based on which type is strong against the type theme of the base. For example, in the first base in the East, you'll face the fire type base, so you should bring in water type Pokémon (another bonus tip: GET A GYARADOS! For the love of God, level up a Magikarp into this ridiculously powerful Pokémon). You should also level your Pokémon up until they're easily taking down the wild Pokémon in that area.
You'll want to make sure they can take down the opposing Pokémon relatively easily because if all three of your Pokémon go down, you have to start over.
Beating the bosses
Once you've defeated the 30 Pokémon swarm, you'll have to face off against the boss of the Star base. Each one has their own gimmick, so without spoiling anything, I'll warn you that this is quite a hard fight. They'll have a couple of normal Pokémon on their theme and then...a surprise, which is a bit harder to handle.
You'll want to stock up on healing items and Revives before going into these fights. Moves like Leech Seed are also good options for keeping you going even when things get tough. Additionally, I'd recommend using your Tera orb during the surprise round - it makes the fight a bit easier.
Ultimately, how you play Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet is up to you - that's rather the point, I think. The games are sprawling, fun, and just as cute and silly as previous games. My top advice for playing these games? Have fun. It's a kid's game, so play like a kid and do whatever makes you happy.
Final bonus tip: I've heard that if you move the game's data from the SD card to the Switch's internal storage, it runs much smoother.
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