The upcoming Pokémon Scarlet and Violet will reportedly be bringing a major change to the long-running series.
According to IGN who got hands-on experience with the games, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet will remove the feature in these games where Pokémon Trainers challenge you on sight. It is being replaced by a feature where the player must choose to initiate the conflict.
This might seem like a small change to the games but it is worth remembering that Pokémon games were first released in 1996 and have had this feature since then. It is one source of challenge found in the child-friendly series.
While there may still be some mandatory battles in the game, the days of trainers accosting you and demanding that you battle them at random spots in the wild is seemingly over.
The game will reportedly display an icon on the top of battle-willing NPCs to let the player know who they are. Then, the player can decide whether they engage with this trainer or not, triggering a battle.
The real question is whether this removal is a good thing or not.
Looking online, the two general perspectives seem to be “this makes the game more accessible” and “this takes away something fundamental from the game”.
Looking at the first viewpoint, the argument can be made that this removes an artificial barrier from exploration, along with lessening the anxiety of being in the wild in Pokémon.
After all, it can be quite discouraging to spend your resources exploring some dark cave and finally get out, only to be challenged by Hiker Joe or whatever, who sends you packing to the nearest Pokémon Center, an entire dark cave away.
Removing this ‘attack on sight’ trait might actually encourage players of differing skill levels to try the game.
Conversely, it can be argued that the aggressive NPCs and their placements in the wild is part of the challenge of the game. That it tests the player’s resource management and forward thinking, along with luck.
For some players, the most fun part of a Pokémon journey is overcoming struggles through preparation, planning, and quick-thinking. Being kicked back to the Pokémon Center by Hiker Joe will only motivate them to eventually overcome him.
For them, this change adds an extra step to the default challenge level of the game.
One thing to consider is that there is no mention of this removal affecting the challenge of these combat encounters in any way. It only adds an “opt-in” feature to the tense Pokémon battles taking place out in the wilderness.
Either way, this feature is a major change from the status quo of the series and whether it adds something new to the series or removes something important… only time will tell.
Pokémon Scarlet and Violet are slated for release on November 18, 2022.