In terms of visuals, I thought it couldn’t get any worse than sword and shield, really I couldn’t.
But Gamefreak has hit a new technical low.
With the promise of a fully open-world title for the largest media grossing franchise in the world announced back in February, I was kind of looking foward to it. Pokemon has been taking “steps in the right direction” for years, but this is a “1 step foward 2 steps back” situation.
My last mainline title was Sword, so knowing that Gamefreak was behind it all-
My expectations were in the dirt. And even then…man…this game could’ve used some more time in the oven:
Online, you can find people tearing this game to shreds over it’s poor performance, visuals, and bugs.
And it’s 100% Warranted.
I’m not asking for a flawless game with the ultimate graphics. Visually, pokemon has never been super stunning and that’s something i’m ok with (probably because I play roblox). If you want stunning graphics, play xenoblade chronicles 3 or god of war 5. But then again, this…thing came from an AAA Studio.
…and for some reason I don’t hate it. I’m enjoying it so far. I haven’t beaten the game, but i’m far enough to where I can give my two cents on this game.
Look i’m not here to herald S/V as an amazing game that everyone should play, it’s a ROUGH game. But there are some things that they do right and improve upon in previous titles.
So in today’s episode of Savage-Rants, we’ll be going over what S/V did right, what was done wrong, and the absolute state of these titles.
What they did RIGHT
If there’s something that Pokemon nails consistently, it’s their Soundtrack.
The music from Gen 9 doesn’t disappoint and is pretty much what you would expect from a pokemon title. They set the mood and tone for the game and are overall pleasant to listen too. Not much else to say for this bullet point, as music taste is subjective. My favorite song from the game so far is the theme for Tera Raid battles , something i’ll touch more on in the “Gameplay Loop” section. But for now, just listen to this:
This track was made by the Undertale man himself, Toby Fox. So it definitely wouldn’t suck.
In this technical mess of a game, the soundtrack is one of the best features.
The Gameplay Loop is acceptable and reinvents how Pokémon is played:
Pokemon Battles are a Tad Faster and random encounters are gone
Send out your lead pokemon to travel with and get things for you. Auto-Battle lets me stomp low level Pokemon immediately without wasting time for a battle unless I want to catch a specific mon. TM crafting gives me an incentive to hunt mons as well.
Trainer Battles are now completely optional
Open World: Go wherever you want whenever you want at anytime. You can immediately challenge the hardest gym after the little “prologue.” The Pokemon also behave like actual animals to an extent.
You are actually rewarded for filling up your Pokedex. It now has an incentive other than to flex online. Still mainly a flex though.
Tera Raid Battles: MUCH faster and more rewarding than the Max raid battles in Sw/Sh, mainly because they are asynchronous. They have a much better soundtrack as well. It wouldn’t be far-fetched to call tera raids a direct upgrade to max raids.
These are the most drastic changes to the tried and true pokemon formula I have seen in a long time and they are 100% welcome. The old formula was (and to an extent, still is): Get Starter, meet rival, battle rival, you win and rival heals your pokemon, travel a couple of routes, encounter evil team, get gym badge, battle rival again, wash rinse repeat, get box legendary, challenge elite 4, challenge champion. Scarlet and Violet attempts to do something about this monotony and I appreciate the long overdue changes to the pokemon formula. I am aware that some of these changes are not new, some of them came with Pokemon Legends: Arceus, a game that I skipped.
Unfortunately, these amazing changes are held back by glaring issues…
Story (No Spoilers)
I will not spoil the story of this game, but I will say this:
Pokemon Scarlet and Violet has 3 story lines and they are all written competently. This is probably the best writing we’ve had since Black and White. Yes, you are playing as a child, but the story isn’t so unbearably cheesy that I have to look away and vomit. I was actually invested and wanted to know how the rest of my journey would unfold.
BUUUUUUUUUUUT the lack of voice acting really hurts this game and makes what would be cinematic cutscenes into awkward slide-shows. It’s been 26 years, I think it’s time to introduce some voice lines into the series.
Speaking of cutscenes, the only good ones in game are the pre-rendered ones. The “in-game” cutscenes have this really weird still frame transition that just does not look good. Throw in awkward talking animations, stuttering, “give” animations where the characters give air to eachother, and mouth-flaps with no sound, and you have an…interesting experience.
But as for the actual narrative, I liked it. You probably will too.
What they did HORRIBLY WRONG
The Elephant in The Room.
The Performance of Scarlet and Violet is Abysmal and is completely unacceptable for a game produced by a Triple A studio.
The switch is not the problem. It may be a relatively weak console, but it can run Breath of the Wild, Xenoblade Chronicles 3, and Monster Hunter rise. All visually stunning games.
So there is no excuse.
Here’s a performance review by IGN
IGN gave sword and shield a 9. So i’m surprised they didn’t give this game a 10 LOL.
But if even IGN isn’t defending your game, then you know you messed up somewhere. Basically, the video says that The game runs at a constant 20-30 FPS and there isn’t a single moment where the game runs well. Not in docked mode, and not in handheld mode.
As you are riding the legendary pokemon, other pokemon and environment textures will pop in and out of existence, which can be a very jarring immersion breaker.
Another important factor is the stuttering.
The further you walk away from something, the less FPS it runs at. This is common in alot of switch games, but it’s especially prominent in Scarlet and Violet.
There’s this one scene where You are introduced to your classmates at the academy in the first 30mins of the game, and the children are animated at TWO FPS. TWO. And this is with the day 1 patch.
I’m not a big graphics guy and my standards are low, but this ain’t it. I mean just LOOK at that shading. This looks like something I would make in AUTOCAD for a school project.
The repeating textures are obvious and the land is very flat. The buildings have no shadows and the lighting/shading is poor. It’s just offensive to look at. If I was playing this on the 3DS then I wouldn’t be complaining but sheeeeeesh man.
This is supposed to be a grand academy? Also it looks worse in game.
Bugs and Glitches Galore
There is no way in gods green earth that this game was bug-tested, because if it was, stuff like this would not be happening so frequently.
- Players can turn into hulking monstrosities while riding the box legendary
- The camera can clip through the ground in pokemon battles
- NPCs can collapse into themselves
- The game can completely crash and your save data can go POOF from a memory leak
While I personally haven’t run into insane bugs like the one above, it’s happening to everyone else. It subtracts from the games already Janky world and further breaks immersion. Let me remind you that this is an AAA game that people paid $60 for.
Pokemon Scarlet and Violet possess a good gameplay loop with a well written story and a great soundtrack. It introduces welcome changes to the pokemon formula, but the bugs, glitches, graphics, and performance issues are completely unacceptable for a franchise this big and render said changes null and void.
We’ve given gamefreak so many chances, and each of those chances are, and I quote, “A step in the right direction.” But they NEVER reach their destination. It’s just an infinite amount of steps and the fandom has grown tired. You’ve probably heard the term “vote with your wallet.” But a pokemon boycott doesn’t sound realistic doesn’t it?
As far as the “Monster-trainer” genre goes, Pokemon is unopposed, and that has led to laziness on the developers part. We’ll just buy it anyway…
I’m personally enjoying violet so far, conceptually, it’s one of the best pokemon games released in years. But I would be lying if I said I could look past it’s flaws completely. It needs another patch ASAP.
This game is a result of a poor development schedule and it is held back by the incompetency of Gamefreak.
But it can only go up from here…Right?