“These titles will be open-world RPGs, the first in the Pokémon series,” the narration explains during the livestream. A post on the games’ official website asserted that “there is no set route to gyms”, thrilling fans with the idea that any route across this world is truly theirs.
Then things stop with the following sentence: “You can purposely search for a stronger leader in the gym, or you can simply stop at the gym located in a city you came across on your journey. This time, you will chart your own path along the path to victory.”
To understand why this pair of seemingly innocuous sentences gives players a pause, you’ll first need to understand “level expansion”, a game mechanic where enemies don’t have specific levels but instead increase in level proportionally along with the player’s own level . This is typically used in open world games to ensure the player has a smooth experience: they won’t run into defeated enemies, and they won’t be overwhelmed by incredibly weak players no matter how they choose to explore the environment.
So it’s significant that the next generation of Pokémon games – the first open-world titles in the history of the major franchise – likely won’t have this mechanic, especially for gyms, which is the series’ version of major boss fights. The goal of the open world is to explore at your own pace, following the path you choose. However, removing the level gauge narrows the open world and, therefore, paths players can reasonably follow.
Their disgruntled fans I already started to express Their aversion to design choice, and who can blame them? It’s another stumbling block, which Game Freak and The Pokémon Company created for themselves as they moved the Pokémon series, built on turn-based battles, random encounters, and pre-set story progression, into a fully open world experience. If you give fans an open world, they’ll want to explore it in any order they choose. Why create a difficult portal by making some gyms (you need to clear an eight to reach the end of the game) require a higher level to beat than others? On paper, choice makes it impossible to do so In fact Progress in whatever order the players choose.
Video games keep getting longer. It’s all about time and money.
To be clear, the official Pokémon website never explicitly states that there is no level gradient in ‘Scarlet’ and ‘Violet’. In theory, every gym could have a specific base level, with some having a higher level than some, on her head Level measurement system is applied. Regardless, the post notes that there is a clear path to progression from one gym to another, given that some gyms are inherently “stronger” than others.
Game Freak, The Pokémon Company, and Nintendo did not respond to a request for comment.
Cross Pokémon areas from gym to gym, capture and level Pokémon on a set path for the ultimate challenge of defeating the Elite Four – it’s a gameplay loop that Game Freak has based on for two decades of mainstream games. Therefore, it is impressive that they are trying an open world where, in theory, players can go anywhere they wish. However, without changing the level of “Scarlet” and “Violet” they essentially risk returning the player to the same gameplay loop of the past two decades: one specific path, one specific order of gyms, one path to the Elite Four.
Earlier this year, “Pokémon Legends: Arceus” took a crack at creating an open world experience in certain regions; I also encountered many obstacles in the transition process, especially in terms of graphics and technology. However, one of the main changes to the series – its lack of gym leaders – worked hand in hand with the open world structure. Players are not directed to a predetermined path.
It seems as if the game “Scarlet” and “Violet” draws heavily from that game; Some of the open-world travel features teased in the upcoming two games, such as flight, look nearly identical in function and animation to their “Arceus” counterpart. It is still unclear whether the “Scarlet” and “Violet” hunting mechanics will take inspiration from “Arceus”, which not only incorporated traditional hunting mechanics that include turn-based combat, weakening and throwing a Poké Ball, but also “Pokémon Go” – Like a hybrid that included stealth and throwing a perfectly oriented buckyball before the fight started. ‘Scarlet’ and ‘Violet’ battles and UI were shown only briefly during Pokémon shows.
Eight generations of Pokémon games in the same format show that Game Freak has a hard time letting go of the long-running aspects of the Pokémon series — even those that directly conflict with its new direction, open-world gameplay design principles that players have come to expect. But as a Pokémon evolves, it becomes stronger. Game Freak must be inspired by its IP address.
“Scarlet” and “Violet” will be released for the Nintendo Switch on November 18, 2022.