Game Freak have offered us another teaser for Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. We already know that exploration is going to be a key theme in the latest installment of the much-beloved pocket monster games, but it looks like Scarlet and Violet will bring this element of the Pokémon experience to the forefront.
Set to release for Nintendo Switch on November 18, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet promises to bring open-world gameplay to the series in a big way.
Gotta read ’em all
The latest teaser shows off the Scarlet Book and the Violet Book, each exclusive to their version of the game. Both tomes are records of an expedition that made its way through the Paldea region long ago. The books are in the care of a scholar called Arven, who is set to help you on your journey. Pokémon fans, myself included, love lore and mystery – and it looks like these books are going to be bursting with both.
According to the Pokémon website, “Photographs and sketches of unidentified creatures fill the pages of the Scarlet Book and Violet Book”. The teaser offers a glimpse at two of the mysteries contained within the books.
In the Scarlet Book, you’ll find reference to the “Great Tusk”, a monster that “attacked the expedition team… mortally wounding one of the explorers” – grizzly stuff. In the Violet Book, you’ll find “Iron Treads”, a steel behemoth that leaves trails “gouged into the ground, as if it had scorched the earth.” Like the books themselves, these monsters are both version-exclusive, but the article implies that there will be plenty more mysteries to uncover in Paldea.
We’re going on a boar hunt
It’s very exciting to see a new Pokémon game make a concerted attempt to get back to elements of mystery and adventure. It’s part of what made Red and Blue so iconic back in the 90s. If you’re a Pokémon veteran, you’ll remember the curiosity and intrigue that surrounded the legendary Pokémon of the earlier entries of the series.
The legendary birds from Red and Blue – as well as Ho-oh and Lugia from Gold and Silver – had their own dungeons that had to be braved if you wanted to track them down. These were humble beginnings, but the sense of adventure and trepidation that I felt venturing into the old Power Plant to track down Zapdos stays with me to this day. It’s heartening to see a potential return to those elements of danger and intrigue that made Pokémon so iconic in the first place.
Though Great Tusk and Iron Treads (teased below) aren’t legendary Pokémon in a technical sense (in contrast to the literal motorcycles on the box art), the idea of a big, dramatic Pokémon hunt really plays into the fantasy at the core of the pocket monster experience.
We already know that Scarlet and Violet are committed to delivering an open-world experience. Once you set out on your journey, you’ll be able to swim, ride and glide your way across Paldea in a manner reminiscent of Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild. If Game Freak is able to artfully combine this emphasis on exploration with a rich tapestry of captivating Pokémon mysteries to solve, then we could be in for one of the best Pokémon games in recent memory.
Back to the street where we began
Following in the footsteps of a lost Pokémon expedition makes for a novel and interesting plot hook. It’s a refreshing change of pace from the usual “fight eight Gym Leaders and become Pokémon champion” routine that Game Freak has been relying on for nearly 30 years.
Though Scarlett and Violet still offer a Gym Leader-centric story path for players, the fact that it is accompanied by two other routes is certainly encouraging. Pokémon has long needed a departure from the tried and tested elements of its traditional formula. Perhaps the hunt for monstrous Pokémon laid out in the Scarlet and Violet books will give us just that.