Fans love the “Pokémon” franchise, but many of the games have been criticized in the past for being overly formulaic. New trainers would leave their home, get their starter Pokémon from the local professor, embark on a more-or-less linear journey to collect all of the gym badges in the region and then face off against the strongest trainers in a final competition. This was more than sufficient when “Red” and “Blue” version came out, but many feel that it has started to grow somewhat stale many generations later. “Pokémon Sun” and “Moon” changed things up a bit by exchanging the gym battles for challenges, but this was immediately changed back in “Sword” and “Shield.”
Now, “Pokémon Scarlet” and “Violet” are on their way, and Game Freak looks like it’s mixing things up more than ever before. During the recent Pokémon Presents showcase, Game Freak revealed several new bits of information about the upcoming games. Not only does it seem to be keeping the open-world and Pokémon capturing mechanics established in “Pokémon Legends: Arceus,” but news has recently broke that it’s also changing the way players will be able to approach gym battles. Now gamers will be able to tackle the challenges in any order they want.
New cinematic footage played during the presentation revealed that the players will be able to ride new motorcycle-shaped legendary Pokémon and that they will be playing as students from a prestigious academy who are hunting for special, jewel encrusted treasure-Pokémon. It also stated that these students will be embarking on a journey to collect gym badges that’s a little different from what fans may be used to. The narrator during the presentation described the journey to get the badges, stating that players will, “go to eight Pokémon gyms and aim for the champion rank. In these games, there is no set path you must take when challenging the gyms. Chart your very own course along Victory Road.”
This is an interesting turn of events, since gym battles usually serve as steadily increasing difficulty thresholds that players have to overcome in order to advance. It makes sense that Game Freak would want to change this, as it shifts the game’s mechanics to accommodate the new open world design, but it also raises several questions. How will the gyms scale in difficulty? Will they have set difficulties that depend on the order the player approaches them, or will their level be based on the levels of the Pokémon in the player’s party?
Fans may not learn the answer until the game is released on November 18, 2022.