Going into my hands-on time with Pokémon Scarlet, I used to be anticipating some modifications primarily based on the ninth technology’s embrace of open-world gameplay and a “do what you need if you need” mentality with its three main story paths. Pokémon has but to take the huge generational shift I’ve dreamed of for years and has as an alternative opted for half-steps with every new entry. Scarlet isn’t the transformation I hoped for, however it’s considerably greater than a easy half-step, representing arguably essentially the most appreciable shift in mainline Pokémon historical past.
I explored a small portion of the general Scarlet map for roughly an hour, although it appeared a lot bigger in-game. I noticed three goal markers throughout a valley and a desert space, every representing one of many three principal story paths: the Victory Highway path, which is the usual eight-gym storyline seen all through the collection, the Path of Legends, consisting of monitoring and battling Titan Pokémon, and Starfall Avenue, a singular tackle the Group Rocket-esque plotline present in each mainline entry. Decided to expertise a bit of little bit of all three, I took off from the southern area of the map towards a Path of Legends marker, and I did so atop Koraidon, the legendary Pokémon adorning the Scarlet field.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus inspiration is clearest right here as a result of, like Arceus’varied useful Pokémon, Koraidon can glide by the air, swim by lakes and oceans, and climb up cliffs. Plus, you may trip atop it anyplace, making traversal throughout Paldea a lot sooner than on foot. I liked having the ability to do that because it made the open world really feel seamless and sped up a formulation of gameplay that may, at instances, really feel sluggish. I used to be much more stunned by how seamless the world really is, driving Koraidon apart.
When roaming the realm, I noticed completely different wild Pokémon throughout me. I noticed an aggressive Lechonk holding his floor, threatening a battle if I acquired nearer. I captured a particular Shinx that glistened from a distance, which signifies it has a uncommon Tera-type. I noticed a small horde of Shinx elsewhere and Magikarp swimming by the ocean whereas gliding throughout it. Taking inspiration from Arceus, Scarlet’s world feels alive thanks to those wild Pokémon.
I used to be stunned after I went to battle one, and as an alternative of seeing the standard screen-break transition with a brand new bombastic battle theme track, the combat merely began. There was no pause, no change in digital camera – nothing apart from the shift in music. It was essentially the most stunning facet of this complete preview. You’ll be able to transfer the digital camera freely whereas deciding on strikes and watching the battle play out, which gave me a way of cinematic freedom I’ve by no means felt in Pokémon earlier than. And when the battle was over, I used to be proper again to driving atop Koraidon, once more with no display screen break or transition.
Furthering my sense of management and freedom over the seamless panorama was a mechanic unusually named “Let’s Go.” Right here, you press R to ship out the Pokémon organized first in your celebration to retrieve an merchandise or battle a Pokémon. It’s utterly autonomous. After urgent R towards a path, your Pokémon is distributed out and does its personal factor. You’ll want to concentrate to kind and ranges to make sure your Pokémon can defeat the one it’s attacking.
In case your Pokémon faints, you have to revive it with an merchandise or on the Pokémon Middle. Right here, you can too restore your Terastalize skill, which one Pokémon can solely use in a single battle at a time. After utilizing it, you’ll want to revive it on the Pokémon Middle or by interacting with one of many varied Tera jewel formations unfold all through the open world. These are additionally house to the Tera Raids.
I did one with different gamers, and whereas it was enjoyable, it wasn’t all that completely different from raids seen in Pokémon Sword and Protect (though far more visually spectacular). After finishing a raid, which homes a uncommon Tera-type Pokémon, you may seize it. Throughout raids, you may assault freely, in an nearly Energetic-Time Battle format just like the Closing Fantasy collection. You may as well carry out callouts to speak with the crew, Cheer to lift the assault or protection of your allies, or heal their Pokémon up.
Upon reaching the Titan questline marker, I encountered a large Klawf. Nintendo instructed me that these Titan encounters comprise three steps: monitor down and chase after them once they run, battling towards them, and a 3rd step I couldn’t pursue primarily based on preview parameters. This was enjoyable, however I might see Titan battles rising stale after a while, particularly if every encounter consists of the identical three steps. Nintendo gave previewers overpowered groups, too, so I don’t have a grasp on Scarlet’s problem, sadly.
From right here, I visited one of many many Group Star bases to check out the Starfall Avenue path. I attempted flying in from above, however the sport instructed me I wanted to enter from the entrance gate. Upon reaching right here, Nintendo instructed me to place the three Pokémon I needed to combat with on the high of my celebration. As soon as inside, a timer appeared, and I had 10 minutes to defeat 30 Group Star Pokémon. I didn’t do that by finishing normal Pokémon battles, although. I completed this problem utilizing the Let’s Go mechanic I discussed earlier, as instructed. It was fairly simple – once more, I had an overpowered crew – and I accomplished it in only a minute or two.
Nintendo tells me that is how these bases are defeated and I used to be disillusioned to listen to that as a result of this wasn’t notably enjoyable. Nevertheless, I feel that with a much less highly effective, extra level-appropriate crew, there’s a superb and distinctive problem available. On the finish, I battled the bottom’s chief, Mela, who you might need seen in a trailer or two.
She stood atop a big and colourful truck-like automobile referred to as the Starmobile, and her Pokémon battled from there, too. After defeating her celebration, I needed to assault the Starmobile and beat it.
To spherical out my time with the single-player portion of the preview, I tried to finish a fitness center for the Victory Highway path. I took on Brassius, a grass-type chief, in one in every of Paldea’s varied cities. Earlier than I might combat him, although, I needed to full his fitness center’s problem: discovering 10 Sunflora scattered across the city. It was fast and straightforward, however charming. I hope different challenges can be extra of an precise problem – Nintendo tells me some will function battles, so maybe I’ll get my repair there. I couldn’t full my battle with Brassius attributable to time, however after finishing the Sunflora problem, I might go proper to preventing him quite than progressing by a fitness center crammed with trainers.
The final piece of my hands-on time I wish to contact on is picnics. Like Sword and Protect’s tenting, you may arrange a picnic to work together along with your celebration, play ball with them, clear them off with a bathe, and construct and eat sandwiches collectively.
Sandwich-making looks like it’s a massive a part of this technology. The cities I visited had a number of retailers promoting components or pre-made meals. Making a sandwich entails selecting your components and dragging them from their plate to the precise sandwich. You’ll must stack components correctly and select ones that mesh nicely to make a scrumptious sandwich, and the animation that performs after finishing one lets you understand how you probably did. It’s cute, and the perks of consuming a sandwich along with your celebration appear nice, although I can’t particularly point out what these perks are.
I left my Pokémon Scarlet preview feeling extra excited a couple of new Pokémon than I had in a very long time. Sword and Protect left me wanting much more, particularly as the primary massive mainline entry on Change. Scarlet and Violet aren’t flipping the formulation on its head, however there are sufficient modifications that I’d name this the most important generational transformation in years, maybe in collection historical past.
The open-world points of those video games are refreshing, including extra persona and seamlessness to the collection than ever earlier than. The power to extra freely have interaction with the three main story paths appears enjoyable, too, however I wasn’t capable of check out its limits. Can I genuinely sort out these how I would like, or will built-in degree gates basically push me into doing this or that at particular moments within the sport? That was a query I couldn’t discover a solution to on this preview, however I’m hoping the previous is true come November. I additionally hope I’m examined extra within the last sport as a result of I felt little pushback from Scarlet throughout this preview.
Nonetheless, the design of Scarlet’s open world, its improved visuals, and the way nicely its particular person items appear to movement collectively have me excited to expertise this Paldean journey, even when I’m left wanting extra in different points of Pokémon’s new technology.