Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, the brand new Gen-9 entries in the ongoing Pokemon franchise, are coming very soon. The latest entry in the Pokemon franchise promises the first open world in the main franchise, with three unique questlines to follow as you explore the Paldea region. The new game structure promises some big changes to the franchise as a whole, along with the usual new additions you’ve come to expect from a Pokemon game, like a bunch of new monsters to collect.
Ahead of the release of Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, we’ve gotten a lot of new information and insights into how this new approach to open-world Pokemon will work. In preparation for the release, here’s everything we know.
As part of a new gameplay trailer shared in June, it was revealed that Pokemon Scarlet and Violet will be released on November 18, 2022, exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. Pre-orders for Scarlet and Violet are now live. Nintendo is also producing a special edition Nintendo Switch that features the game’s two legendaries, Koraidon and Miraidon, on the dock, along with school emblems on the Joy-Con controllers. For more details, check out our Pokemon Scarlet and Violet pre-order guide.
Every new core Pokemon game features a new area, and often these are loosely based on real-world locations. The first Pokemon game, for example, took place in the Kanto region, which was modeled after Nintendo and Japan’s The Pokemon Company. Other regions have been inspired by France (Kalos), Hawaii (Alola) and more recently, the United Kingdom (Galar).
The new region in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet is Paldea, which is loosely based on Spain and the surrounding areas. This cultural influence is seen in many Pokemon names, as well as elements of the new cooking mechanics. Based on the artwork that has been released, the full map appears to be very roughly shaped like Spain.
New and returning Pokemon and starters
In the first trailer, we only saw three Pokemon: the starters players will choose from at the start of their adventure. As usual, these fall under the basic elemental types: Grass, Fire and Water. This has been the case since the very first Pokemon game, so it’s no surprise to see Game Freak uphold the tradition.
The three starters are Sprigatito, the Grass cat. Fuecoco, the Fire croc; and Quaxly, the water duck. We’ve only seen their initial forms, so we don’t know how they’ll evolve. Sometimes, as Pokemon evolve, they gain new types on top of their original elemental traits.
Subsequent trailers showed off many more Pokemon, including returning favorites like Pikachu and Psyduck, and even a Hisuian variant of Zoroark first introduced in Pokemon Legends: Arceus. We’ve also seen plenty of new additions like the cliff-climbing crab Klawf, the Mega Man-looking biped Amarouge, and the adorable Fidough.
At this point there are too many Pokemon to list here, so for more information, be sure to check out our Every Confirmed Pokemon For Pokemon Scarlet And Violet So Far collection.
The three missions
Traditionally, Pokemon games told a story campaign that was fairly linear. With the new open-world approach to Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, this structure has also changed. Instead of a single linear story, you can follow one of three main quest lines: Victory Road, The Path of Legends, and Starfall Street.
Victory Road is the most recognizable and classic mission in Pokemon, as you fight to be the best (like no one ever was) by conquering regional gym leaders and possibly the Elite Four. This time you can choose which order to challenge the gym leaders in, which means the balance difficulty can be very different this time around. In the one gym challenge we saw, you didn’t even fight a series of NPCs in the gym – instead, you play a short game of hide-and-seek with some Pokemon and then challenge the gym leader 1-on-1. This could mean that gyms are based more in themed activities than a combat gauntlet.
Path of Legends revolves around researching giant Pokemon. There are a number of these massive Pokemon out there and you’ll have to follow the clues to track them down and defeat them in battle for research purposes. This might be the path we know the least about, because even in the hands-on preview we were limited to seeing the end of the fight against a giant Klawf.
Finally, Starfall Street is the new way to challenge the new competitor, Team Star. These encounters are no longer woven in and out of the story. Instead, Team Star has set up their own outposts and you’ll have to enter a special area to challenge them. In our time with the game, Team Star’s only challenge was to take down a certain number of enemy Pokemon within a time limit, which then led to the battle with the leader of that Team Star outpost.
It remains to be seen how these three paths will fit together in the whole experience.
One major new feature promised by the promotional materials so far is that this will take place in an open environment. According to the official site:
“Various cities blend seamlessly into the borderless desert. You’ll be able to see the Pokémon of this region in the skies, in the seas, in the forests, on the streets – everywhere! You’ll be able to experience the true joy of the Pokémon series – the battle against wild ones.” Pokémon to catch – now in an open world game that players of all ages can enjoy.
At this point, Game Freak has also promised that you can explore the world with up to four players. This would make for a true open-world multiplayer game, unlike Sword and Shield, which simply had multiplayer raid battles on top of traditional combat and trading capabilities.
Finally, the second trailer debuted two different professors, Professor Sada and Turo. These two will be exclusive to Scarlet and Violet, respectively, marking the first time that teacher characters in a Pokemon game have been exclusive to the release. This could also mean we’ll see the story diverge between the two versions. There is some indication in the visual design of both legendaries and professors that the two versions symbolize a clash of nature and technology. As usual, you will also meet a friendly opponent, this time a girl named Nemona.
The game also features a cooking mini-game, similar to Arceus, that allows you to either buy ready-made dishes or cook your own. Afterwards, you can eat the food either in town or out in a field with a picnic. These foods will give you passive buffs, such as increasing your chances of finding a certain type of Pokemon. As you explore the game and create recipes, you’ll find some foods that can help you catch specific Pokemon you’re hunting.
Scarlet and Violet also introduce a new Pokemon power-up, called Terastal forms. These give your Pokemon a crystalline appearance and enhance your moves, making them more powerful. Even better, you can find rare Terastal Pokemon that can actually equip types outside of their standard type classification. This will help you win over opponents who weren’t expecting a type matchup based on your Pokemon themselves and should shake up the competitive meta-game. It looks like these special Terastal Pokemon will mostly be obtainable through special events and raid battles, but any type of Pokemon has the potential to become a Terastal form.
How the open world works
To describe how the open world works in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, let’s take a moment to recap what the difference is between the open world structures of Pokemon Sword/Shield and Pokemon Legends: Arceus.
In Pokemon Sword and Shield, there were open spaces, most notably the new “Wild Areas” where Pokemon could be seen roaming freely. But there were still hard loads between specific areas, and battles were their own separate battle screen that loaded separately from exploration.
In Pokemon Legends: Arceus, there were several open world areas that would load individually as you chose to explore an area. But within these areas there was enormous flexibility. You could throw Poke Balls directly at a Pokemon to catch them without fighting at all, and when entering battle, you could still move around freely.
So which version is more similar to Pokemon Scarlet and Violet? Our hands-on preview sheds a lot of light on this, and the answer is that it takes elements from both games, but takes more recognizable parts of Arceus.
In the Scarlet and Violet open world, you can see wild Pokemon roaming just like Arceus and Sword and Shield’s Wild areas. You can’t just catch a Pokemon by throwing a ball in the open world, but you can start a battle that way for a bonus. In a more drastic change from the norm, you can even skip battles altogether, having your own Pokemon roam the landscape alongside you, passively tending to enemy Pokmeons and gaining reduced experience. In fact, in the Team Star battle area mentioned above, we were able to have our Pokemon passively complete the timed element of the challenge.
New legendary Pokemon appear to serve as bases for navigating the open world, allowing you to slide, climb walls, and run faster. Also, as a result of this open world approach, NPCs will no longer stop you in your tracks to start a battle. Instead, you’ll get a visual indication that they’re interested in a trainer battle, and you can walk up to them and accept the challenge if you want. Since the entire world is now essentially a Wild Area, cities are more of a safe haven from wild Pokemon.
The products discussed here were independently selected by our editors. GameSpot may receive a share of the revenue if you purchase anything featured on our site.