Pokemon Scarlet and Violet gave us what we wanted – and it turns out we were wrong


Pokemon Scarlet and Violet have both taken a rigorous kicking from the online community in recent weeks over performance issues – and frankly, that’s fair. My own Pokemon and Scarlet Review highlighted these very same issues, and they’re as extensive as they are migraine-inducing. But with all the talk around frame rates and hilarious videos of Pokemon Brundleflying together, I feel the more obvious issues have overshadowed some discussions that are just as critical, and more interesting, than simple programming errors. 

To put it bluntly, I think it’s wrong to assume that Scarlet and Violet would be GOTY crackers if only you could beat out all the technical issues and hit 60FPS. There are lots of odd hiccups at a fundamental design level, but what fascinates me is that they’re largely tied to mechanics that were considered exciting in the pre-release hype. Pokemon Scarlet and Violet have listened to a lot of fan demands in their construction of Paldea – but now they’ve given us what we want, I’m starting to wonder why we wanted them in the first place. Be careful what you wish for, I guess.

The Open World

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Let’s start with the big one – Paldea was sold to us not as a tangled knot of interlocking routes, but an open world that could be explored freely and in any order. Fight the gyms backwards! Find whatever Pokemon you want! Take your newly-acquired starters to the most dangerous depths of the realm! It sounded sexy, but that abandonment of structure completely plays against Pokemon’s levelling system.