We just got two big Pokemon releases in the space of two months, but clearly, that wasn’t enough. Much to the surprise of many, The Pokemon Company recently announced Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, the ninth generation of the series, which is due out later this year- and the development team at Game Freak seems to be making some interesting changes to the series’ formula. There’s still plenty that we don’t know about the upcoming games, but based on what we do know, we (and many others) have our wishlisht of the things we’d like to see in the RPG duo. Here, that’s what we’re going to be talking about.
MORE NEW POKEMON THAN IN RECENT GAMES
It goes without saying that a new generation of Pokemon games brings several new species of Pokemon with it, and that, of course, is going to be the case in Scarlet and Violet as well. That’s pretty much non-negotiable- what we’re hoping for, however, is more new varieties of Pokemon than we’ve seen in instalments over the last decade or so. Sword and Shield and Sun and Moon both introduced 81 new Pokemon apiece (on top of some regional variants of existing species), while X and Y added 72 new species to the ever-growing Pokedex. Those aren’t small numbers, of course, but we’re hoping to see a much more ambitious addition to the roster. Black and White, for instance, added a whopping 156 new Pokemon species, which is the most we’ve ever gotten in a new Pokemon game. While we’re not expecting Scarlet and Violet to quite hit those levels, we’d still like that number to touch 100.
BETTER AND DENSER OPEN WORLD DESIGN
Pokemon Legends: Arceus was a major step forward for the series as the first open world Pokemon game ever, and Scarlet and Violet are looking to take that a step further by going fully seamless with their entire map. And we’re hoping to see improvements in other areas as well. For starters, we’d love to see meaningful environmental variety in the world, with plenty of unique biomes to keep things interesting. More importantly, we want to see a far denser open world. Given Pokemon Legends’ setting, it made sense for its open world to be as sparsely populated as it was, but with Scarlet and Violet not being set in the past, we’re hoping the world is more densely packed with things that aren’t just natural scenery.
MORE INTERACTIVITY IN THE WORLD
This is another area where we’re hoping the open world of Pokemon Scarlet and Violet will make big improvements. Sword and Shield’s Galar was particularly disappointing in this regard, with environments often feeling like little more than static backgrounds with little to no interactivity. Arcues, on the other hand, showcased a significantly more interactive sandbox- and that’s the direction we’re hoping the Gen 9 games will head in as well. Don’t just give us a world that’s pretty to look at- make it fun to simply exist in it as well.
BETTER DUNGEONS THAN RECENT ENTRIES
The quality of dungeon design in Pokemon games has really gone down the drain in recent years. Where once dungeons used to be labyrinthine, complex, and layered, in recent instalments, they’ve been characterized by boring and linear design, to the point where they may as well not even exist. This is an area that is in desperate need of a facelift, and we’re hoping Pokemon Scarlet and Violet bring about that change.
VARIED TOWNS AND CITIES
With the Gen 9 games featuring a completely seamless open world where towns and cities blend into the wilds without any interruptions, one has to wonder how (or if) that’ll impact the way those locations are designed. There’s a chance that Game Freak is less ambitious with how many cities there are in the region and how big and dense they are, but hopefully that won’t be the case. As we journey through the new region, we’re hoping to pass through several towns and cities that sport varied, interesting designs and encourage exploration.
Gym battles have been a staple of the Pokemon series for as long as it’s been around, but Game Freak has experimented with that formula in recent games. Sun and Moon shook things up by replacing Gyms with Island Trials, and while Gyms did come back for Gen 8, they were quite gimmicky in nature. So what do we want in Scarlet and Violet? Well, traditional Gyms- more importantly, traditional, well-designed Gyms, each with their own unique interesting visual and mechanical hooks.
BETTER DIFFICULTY BALANCING
This has been one of Pokemon’s biggest issues for quite some time now. Starting with Pokemon X and Y, the series lost its teeth and became ridiculously easy, to the extent that the complete lack of challenge (with some exceptions here and there) has put off even many long-time series fans. Pokemon fans have been clamouring for better difficulty balancing in their games for years, and hopefully, Game Freak will finally listen this time. Making EXP All optional, for starters, would contribute to that significantly.
A MEATY POST-GAME
Post-game content is more important in Pokemon games than most other franchises out there, and while there are, of course, examples of instalments in the series that excel in that area (such as the recent Pokemon Legends: Arceus, for instance), there are also more than a few examples that don’t. It’s very important that the Gen 9 games fall in the former category. We doubt we’ll ever go back to the glory days of Johto, where the post-game was just as meaty and exciting as the base game was, but we’re at least expecting something along the lines of a Battle Frontier, if not more.
THE RETURN OF POKEMON LEGENDS: ARCEUS’ QUALITY OF LIFE IMPROVEMENTS
Pokemon Legends: Arceus has evolved the series’ formula in several meaningful ways, and the many quality-of-life improvements it makes are a big part of that. Being able to switch Pokemon’s movesets from a large pool whenever you want, having more granular control over the individual stats of each Pokemon through the use of items, being able to decide exactly when you want your Pokemon to evolve after it hits certain requirements- all of these changes collectively improved things massively. As Pokemon fans know perfectly well, you can never be sure if new instalments in this series will stick with previous entries’ improvements, but we’re hoping Gen 9 sticks with these, at the very least.
LOTS OF OPTIONAL CONTENT
This is another area where the hyper-streamlined recent Pokemon entries have disappointed, though we’re optimistic that that won’t be the case in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet. They’re being billed as seamless, full-fledged open world games, and a game like that is pretty much required to have plenty of optional content to keep players busy. We’d be surprised if the upcoming duo was as lacking in optional content as, say, Sword and Shield were- hopefully, the quality of the side content they do offer won’t be disappointing either.