Pokemon Scarlet & Violet - Tips For Beginners
Pokemon Scarlet and Violet are finally out, and they mark a number of changes for the mainline Pokemon series. Even if you're a Pokemon master from way back, these games shake up the formula in ways you may not expect. They have an open-world structure similar to the spin-off Pokemon Legends: Arceus, but now it all takes place in a single connected world. You can go almost anywhere right after the tutorial ends, and that means you can run into trouble a lot faster than you expected.
There are 18 badges to earn in all, across three different mission types. You'll take part in traditional gym battles in Victory Road, conquer massive Pokemon beasts in the Path of Legends, and take on the hoodlums of Team Star in Starfall Street. And traversing the world on your mounted Pokemon is now a major element across both the story and one of the mission types. It's extremely different in some key ways while also feeling familiar and cozy for Pokemon fans.
There's tons to do and see in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, and some elements aren't perfectly clear until you start delving into the experience. So if you're completely new to Pokemon or you've been catching them since Blue and Red, here are some things you should know before setting out on your latest Pokemon adventure.
Go to school, nerd
Yes, Pokemon Scarlet and Violet let you attend classes, take tests, and befriend your teachers. There's nothing stopping you from cutting classes, but completing classes will earn you some nice rewards. To enroll in a class, just talk to the nice lady at the front desk, and you're good to go. It's worth revisiting the school often because you will unlock new classes as you progress. These range from giving you some gameplay tutorials to teaching you about the lore and history of the Paldea region.
Go anywhere, but…
Once you've made it through the tutorial, you are free to roam Paldea in its entirety. However, there is no level scaling across Paldea. This means that some areas will be way too tough for you at the beginning. I still liked to poke around some of these high-level areas, but don't expect to accomplish much if your Pokemon are too low level. The general rule of thumb is the further you get from Mesagoza, the tougher gyms, trainers, and wild Pokemon will be. Since Mesagoza is on the southern tip, that means the toughest areas will be to the north. It's also worth noting that the map in the game is a little finicky, so make sure to orient it properly when you zoom in. It can be easy to lose your bearings otherwise.
Considering how big Paldea is, you will probably spend a lot of time looking at the map. Unfortunately, the map isn't great. You cannot rotate the map when you fully zoom out, but it's the only way you can see the entirety of Paldea. Meanwhile, zooming in all the way is the only way you can see shops, but it often rotates in a way that can be disorienting after looking at the zoomed-out map.
Like every Pokemon game, your ultimate goal is to complete the Pokedex. Pokemon Scarlet and Violet give you rewards for hitting certain milestones. To claim those rewards, open your Pokedex and press X. For every 10 volumes, you will get items ranging from Poke Balls to XP candies.
Scarlet and Violet have fast travel, and it's available very early on. Once you find a Pokemon Center, you can fly there. If you pull up the map and you see a feather icon on a Pokemon center, you've unlocked fast travel for that location. Easy as that. Keep in mind that you can't fast travel while indoors. If you try, Oak's famous words will echo through your head: There's a time and place for everything… but not now.
You might be able to go anywhere in Paldea, but it's pretty tough to get anywhere efficiently without Miraidon and Kuraidon's traversal abilities. In order to unlock these, you'll need to hunt down and defeat Titan Pokemon in the Path of Legends questline. Klawf is the easiest to defeat and you'll get a speed boost ability. However, I started with a different Titan and managed to unlock Surf at the very beginning of the game. You'll ultimately need to collect all of these traversal abilities for story progress, but they also make it much easier to reach certain gyms and Team Star bases.
Locking eyes with another trainer won't initiate a battle in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet. However, it's still important to battle trainers when you find them. At some Pokemon Centers you can find a League Representative. Once you've defeated a certain number of trainers in a specified area he will give you a reward, usually in the form of a TM. These trainers aren't too hard to find, so just explore each area you visit thoroughly and you should be fine. You can recognize eager trainers by their yellow-bordered dialogue boxes that pop up when you're exploring the wild.
Pokemon Scarlet and Violet introduces a new battle mechanic called Terastallizing. Basically, every Pokemon in Paldea has a tera-type. Some Pokemon have tera-types different from their original type. When they Terastazallize, their typing can change. You can Terastallize once after healing your Pokemon up at a Pokemon Center, so use this mechanic sparingly in the wild. When it's go-time against a boss battle like a Gym Leader, though, remember to use it! You can always refresh it afterwards.
Auto-battling is new to Scarlet and Violet, and it comes with some advantages and disadvantages. Let's start with the positives. Auto-battles are quick and net you a reduced amount of experience, and like any normal battle, the XP is shared with your entire party. If you want to quickly level up a Pokemon, the best way to do that is to find an area with Pokemon that are slightly higher levels than yours, and make sure you have a type advantage against them. Tap the R button near some Pokemon and the first monster in your party will clear them out. The downside of auto-battles is that most Pokemon won't evolve, and new moves automatically get filed away into your Pokemon's move pool. Of course, if you miss the window, it will evolve next level up, just make sure it levels up from a regular battle. And if you auto-battle a lot, be sure to check your move pool to learn any moves that might have passed you by.
The other constant fear I have when it comes to auto-battling is accidentally knocking out a shiny Pokemon. If you see one, press ZR to recall your Pokemon and approach it normally.
Thankfully, if a Pokemon does learn a move through auto-battling--or if you just change your mind about a move--you can relearn by checking that Pokemon's summary page in the menu. Every move a Pokemon has learned can be swapped out on the fly, and this even includes TMs you've taught it in the past. This greatly reduces the pressure of deciding whether or not to forget a move to learn a new one when the prompt appears, because your Pokemon can switch back and forth between its known moves however many times you'd like.
Surprise Wild Pokemon
Although you can't catch Pokemon in Scarlet and Violet without triggering a battle, you can still surprise them to get an extra turn. The B button will let you crouch, and you can use ZL to lock on and ZR to send out the first Pokemon in your party. Doing this can also make it easier to catch wild Pokemon.
Pokemon Scarlet and Violet introduces TM crafting. In order to craft a TM, you need crafting components which can be found by defeating Pokemon and League Points, which you should earn plenty of as you progress. Once you have all the components, all you need to do is talk to the TM Machine Machine at any Pokemon Center. Basically, any TM you've found automatically becomes craftable as long as you have the right parts.
Picnics are new to Scarlet and Violet and allow you to feed your Pokemon sandwiches. You can set up a picnic basically anywhere and make sandwiches so long as you have all the required ingredients. Sandwiches can increase your odds of catching specific Pokemon, spawn more eggs, and even increase your shiny odds.
Breeding has been overhauled in Scarlet and Violet. Now, in order to get eggs, you need to have two compatible Pokemon in your party and start a picnic. The two Pokemon you want to breed need to be in the first and last spot in your party. If they are compatible, eggs will spawn in the picnic basket on the ground over time. Any eggs you collect will automatically transfer to your Pokemon boxes. It's worth mentioning that there's still a lot we don't know about breeding, so we'll update as more information becomes available.