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Early Reactions To Pokemon Scarlet & Violet Are All Saying The Same Thing

Pokémon fans got a shock earlier this year when they learned that "Pokémon Legends: Arceus" would not be the series' only major release in 2022. Though that semi-open world prequel pushed the series further in ways that excited critics and fans, all attention soon turned to the next mainline games in the franchise: "Pokémon Scarlet" and "Violet." The game features even wider open world areas that fans are excited to explore, as well as new Tera Type Pokémon and Legendary creatures, so longtime Pokémaniacs have been chomping at the bit to get started in the Paldea region.

"Pokémon Scarlet" and "Violet" both launch on Nov. 17, but critics have gotten their hands on the titles a bit early. Though many reviews are still in progress, a number of outlets have played enough of the two games to offer up some concise thoughts about the latest evolution of the series. And so far, the overall reception to the games has been a bit of a mixed bag. 

The good news is that there's a lot to love about the new "Pokémon" games, especially when it comes to the expansions of the world and overall formula. The Paldea adventure doesn't hold players' hands quite as much as previous entries, resulting in fun challenges and a joy of discovery. Unfortunately, it sounds like the new games are also hampered by some significant performance issues that drag the whole experience down in parts. Here is what the critics have been saying about "Pokémon Scarlet" and "Violet."

Scarlet & Violet presents an expansive challenge

Let's start with the good, because there is a lot here for fans to be happy about. First off, the days of "Pokémon" feeling too easy are apparently over. As noted by GameSpot's Jake Dekker, "In many ways, it feels like Game Freak has finally taken the training wheels off of Pokemon. Throughout most of my adventure I felt like I was constantly punching above my weight against [opponents]." Players will have their hands full coming up with deeper strategies and rethinking team compositions ahead of matches. 

And players will need to keep those strategies in mind outside of regular battles, as the larger open world affords plenty of opportunities to get lost (in the best way). "Scarlet" and "Violet" encourage non-linear progression, so players can essentially tackle the game's Gyms and towns in any order they prefer. While exploring, players can camp with their Pokémon, make meals, and gather crafting materials. 

There's so much to do in this game, and the sheer amount of content has been appreciated by reviewers like VGC's Jordan Middler, who remarked, "For the first time in an age, it feels like is flexing its muscles in the main series... 'Pokémon Scarlet' and 'Violet' deliver three games worth of ideas in one." Even so, VGC and The Verge's reviews applauded how the game manages to balance the three main questlines with ease. The Verge's Andrew Webster also noted that the game is frequently hilarious, with some of the better comedic writing the series has seen in a while.

However, although the game never quite feels overstuffed, it may still be too much for the Nintendo Switch to handle.

The Switch struggles with Pokémon Scarlet & Violet

Early reviews for "Pokémon Scarlet" and "Violet" have noted that the game might be a bit too ambitious for the platform it's on. The Guardian's Tom Regan wrote, "'Scarlet' and 'Violet' are games that dream big, but are beaten down by reality. It's not hyperbole to say that 'Scarlet/Violet' is one of the worst-looking – and running – games I've ever played." Regan noted that characters and objects were constantly clipping through solid surfaces or getting stuck in odd places, while animations stuttered and struggled to load throughout his playthrough.

Nintendo Life's Alex Olney noted, "The game rarely hits its 30fps target in the open world, often has issues with its camera, and looks pretty uninspiring to boot. For every charming new monster design, there's a visual bug or inexplicably long pause when switching your active Pokémon." Fellow Nintendo Life writer Alana Hagues noted that the performance issues were definitely a blemish on an otherwise lovely experience, noting that the game's day one patch didn't alleviate every concern.

Even VGC's mostly positive review pointed to constant drops in framerate and some severe issues with draw distance, noting that wild Pokémon frequently switch to low-poly models while still in plain view. Meanwhile, Eurogamer's Lottie Lynn points to some of the ways the game clearly had to cut corners in the name of performance, noting that NPCs are much less chatty and there are fewer residences to be entered in the game's larger towns.

Overall, it sounds like "Scarlet" and "Violet" offer all kinds of new thrills for longtime fans of the "Pokémon" franchise, but players should be prepared for the Switch to show its age as they begin their journey.

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