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Could Pokémon Scarlet and Violet Fix the Series’ Difficulty Troubles?

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pokemon scarlet and violet shakes up traditional format

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Pokémon Scarlet and Violet could doom or revive this beloved feature

It’s going to be a difficult conversation.

Ok, that’s my joke aside. Here’s something that’s definitely no joke: difficulty in Pokémon games.

Not really. It was still barely present in the early games of the series, but something about the newer games took things to another level. And the players noticed it, myself included. After playing Pokémon FireRed for the first time shortly after beating Pokémon X, the differences are truly day and night.

Suspect #1 here is the Exp Share item – which received a massive power boost in Gen 6 and became mandatory to use in Gen 8. A 250% increase in experience gains without any downsides will definitely cause problems, but I don’t think that’s the main culprit. (Deserves some blame though. Is anyone actually having fun being 10 levels over-leveled for the whole game?)

scarlet and purple pokemon shake up the traditional format

Surprising no one, Pokémon X and Y are absurdly easy games

These are the highlight moments of the game. You have just caught Xerneas and the game has given you a chance to add the Legendary Pokemon to your party. The last time a chance like this happened was black and white for your fight against N, and that fight was super cool…so you add Xerneas to your party here too, expecting to an equally cool fight. This is your first mistake.

Your second mistake, if you end up making it, is sending Xerneas first, into the ultimate battle against Lysander. This is because Xerneas’ Moonblast (it’s not even the Pokemon’s signature move, it’s just a decent option) can one-hit kill half of Lysander’s team. Lysander’s ace Pokémon, Mega Gyarados, goes down in two hits instead of one. The remaining Pokemon (yes, it only has four), a Pyroar that resists Moonblast…has no tools to defeat Xerneas. His best move here is Fire Blast, an inaccurate move that can beat Xerneas in three consecutive hits. Moonblast still deals more damage, despite Pyroar’s resistance. Pyroar can’t even learn moves that would be useful here, until the very next games where Iron Tail becomes a move tutor option. And so, what should have been a climax instead becomes a circus, as the story’s final boss struggles desperately against you.

The new Exp Share had no chance of ruining this fight, the game didn’t need its help. He was able to ruin things very well on his own.

What “Difficulty in Pokémon” Even Means

When people talk about Pokémon losing difficulty, it’s times like this that they point to. Quite pitiful attempts at resisting the game, where all you have to do is say “yes” when prompted and click the same move over and over again. Where grinding is no longer a crutch, it’s practically ruining the game; draining all the tension from fights when your single Hawlucha can solo kill all four elites.

Anyone who seriously claims that “Gaming has always been easy!!”, in my professional opinion, should leave all online talk as soon as possible (kidding). The ability to grind levels is not a Pokémon-exclusive feature. Because there are ways to retain the sense of challenge even in other Pokémon games. Yes, even the newer ones – even if they use it as a fleeting moment rather than a gaming experience.

In Sun and Moon, most of the flaws of X and Y are still there. Exp. Share still completely breaks the game. The constant grip made the game desperate to guide you through the game. That slog was still there – I could walk past the trainers without hesitation, and found myself dodging fights to avoid game-ruining experience gains. But when those Totem Pokémon have powered up, when they’ve summoned allied Pokémon to battle you two-up, when the game presents you with significant resistance… it’s always easy, don’t you don’t get me wrong. But don’t make the mistake of saying that all facilities are the same.

In those moments when the game is able to surprise you with an unexpected challenge, when you’re not being led by the hand and you really have to change your strategy, overcome an unforeseen obstacle… it’s appreciated.

Sinnoh remains the best region

In Pokémon Legends: Arceus, we were presented with a really tough final battle. I’ll avoid spoilers for now, but if you’ve played it, you know what I mean. The game has twisted the odds in its favor, at a time when you may not be ready. You don’t have the ability to strategize, you just have to adapt and overcome. Gambling will not help you win.

And this is not the only example. Even in the wild, you can take on multiple Pokémon at once. The few trainer battles that exist can see you fighting against three against one. Are they difficult? Not always, but they are there. They can come out of nowhere. And when you succeed, you feel like your team can accomplish feats you didn’t even realize. You feel strong, significantly. The game may still give you wins on a silver platter, but they’ll still feel unmistakably like wins – not a walkthrough. And for people who want harder in Pokémon, that’s the feeling they’ve been waiting for.

And now the modern day

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet don’t need to be scary and violent, they just need to bring back that feeling of overcoming obstacles without the help of the game. Overcoming anything, really, I’m not that picky. They just can’t bend over backwards to make sure you never feel challenged at any point in the game (looking at you, 6e generation games).

Rumors allude to the removal of “Set” mode in upcoming games. It’s a mode where you don’t get the chance to change your Pokémon before the opposing trainer sends another to replace a defeated Pokémon, giving the battle a shift in momentum in their favor. Is this deletion bad? This will certainly make it harder to maintain the sense of challenge, but it won’t be impossible to fabricate a way to recreate it. The fact that we’ll have to make it certainly sucks, but it’s not the end of the world. And hey, the rumor might not even be true.

It is, however, a very bad omen. We have seen this song and dance before. If you were around for days X and Y, you know how easily fans dismissed complaints about broken experience sharing. The ending was disappointing and predictable.

Granted, Scarlet and Violet already draw a lot of inspiration from Pokemon Legends: Arceus, and this game has done a decent job of retaining a sense of challenge. The fact that upcoming Pokemon games could lean either way is…disturbing, to say the least. But if things can go back to the way they were, if players really have the ability to push their team to their limits, if players can take advantage of the open world to take on challenges they may not be ready for… Scarlet and Violet could really be something special.

These games could either banish the idea of ​​difficulty as an “archaic design choice” or revive it in glorious fashion. I know which way I want. See you on the road, trainers.

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