Players will be able to explore the region of Paldea freely, with no borders in between any of the biomes featured in the world map — in the same vein as titles like Genshin Impact and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. This sort of freedom changes the usual Pokemon formula significantly, as it is now possible to visit areas that would otherwise be completely locked before certain conditions are met.
But the game being open world also means new hurdles for players to overcome. Things like zone level ranges, ideal gym leader/quest order, and the like will challenge players right from the start. Thankfully, developer Game Freak has seen fit to include more than a handful of quality of life changes in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, relative to previous, more linear games in the franchise.
Some of these changes may not be apparent right away, but can save tons of time and effort if used correctly. So without further ado, here is our guide to the things you need to know before starting your journey through Paldea!
Spoiler warning: some of the tips in this guide will make references to story elements and possible spoilers. We’ll keep them to a minimum, but please be forewarned.
There is No Level Scaling
Unlike other open world titles like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Pokemon Scarlet and Violet do not feature level scaling in the same sense. Areas in the game all have set level ranges, which means that players cannot simply traverse across the map with low-leveled Pokemon and expect to have a good time.
For example, the westernmost region of the map has wild Pokemon and trainers that start at level 50. This is hardcoded into the game, and will not scale down depending on the player’s party and their Pokemon’s average levels. Keep this in mind when traveling through Paldea, as you may find yourself facing down opponents you’re too underleveled against.
You Can Now Run from Trainer Battles
That said, we should note that running from battles against NPC trainers is now possible, in contrast to previous games. Older titles in the series would lock you out of running from trainer battles completely, forcing you to either defeat your opponent or have all of your Pokemon faint in order to escape.
Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, meanwhile, allows you to forfeit matches against trainers. Doing so will have the same effect as actually losing to the trainer (you lose money and get teleported to the nearest previously-visited Pokemon Center), but at least it’s a faster way of getting to that point if you know you’re not going to win anyway.
Craft TMs at the TM Machine
First explored in Pokemon Legends: Arceus, crafting is now one of the core mechanics in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet — at least when it comes to making Technical Machines (TMs). TMs in previous games had to be picked up, received from NPCs, or purchased from places like the Celadon Department Store in Generation I.
This time, however, it is possible to craft TMs at any Pokemon Center through the TM Machine. TMs that you’ve already discovered will show up here, as well as a list of materials required to craft them. These materials are dropped by wild Pokemon after battles, Tera Raids, and/or after they’re caught.
You will also need League Points (LP) in addition to the crafting materials for each TM. LP is earned through story progression, as well as by trading in materials at the TM Machine.
Pokemon Can Recall Old Moves
Picking and choosing what moves to keep for each Pokemon was a difficult task in previous games, as all Pokemon are limited to four moves at any given time. Learning any moves past that limit would require Pokemon to forget already known moves, and getting those moves back in the future would mean a visit to the Move Tutor or Move Reminder. Gone are those days, for Pokemon can now simply recall old moves outside of battle.
This is actually another mechanic carried over from Pokemon Legends: Arceus, which makes its debut in the mainline series of games. It goes without saying that this vastly improves quality of life, as Move Reminders no longer have to be around for Pokemon to get forgotten moves back.
To make a Pokemon remember any previously learned move, simply go to its Summary page through the overworld menu, switch to the movelist tab, press A, and then select “Remember moves”. This brings up a list of its old moves, which you can then select from.
HMs Are Out, Mounts Are In
In previous games, Hidden Machine (HM) moves served the purpose of getting past obstacles on the overworld map. For example, Strength allowed players to push boulders forward to open up paths, while Surf gave players access to areas blocked by water. While these were of course useful in traversing the regions in Pokemon titles prior to Sword and Shield, they weren’t that great in actual battles — with the sole exception of Surf.
Like its predecessors, Pokemon Scarlet and Violet do away completely with HMs, and instead leave all the platforming and whatnot to mounted Pokemon. Legendary Pokemon Koraidon (Scarlet) and Miraidon (Violet) both serve as the player character’s mount, and both can unlock abilities that make venturing through Paldea’s biomes much more convenient.
We won’t go into too much detail about these abilities and how to unlock them, but trust us when we say that there are places on the map that you simply can’t get to without them.
Let Your Pokemon Roam Free for Free Experience
Let’s Go! mode makes its return from the titles of the same name. Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! both allowed players to have one of their Pokemon walk alongside them on the overworld map, though this did little more than serve an aesthetic purpose, barring large, rideable Pokemon like Charizard and Onix.
In Scarlet and Violet, though, Let’s Go! mode has a really compelling purpose: auto battles. By pressing the R button when roaming around the map, the first Pokemon in your party will come out of their Poke Ball and start walking with you. Should they encounter wild Pokemon while doing so, they will automatically battle them, without entering an actual battle sequence.
If they are equal to or stronger in overall power versus the wild Pokemon they encounter, there is a high chance of them winning outright. This happens pretty much instantly, and the Pokemon walking with you and the rest of your party will receive experience points based on the level of the wild Pokemon they defeat. If, however, the Pokemon they go up against is stronger, your Pokemon will lose HP and run back to you after “wearing itself out”.
Needless to say, this is an amazing feature for those that don’t like level grinding the usual way in Pokemon games. It saves a metric ton of time in this regard, and is also a good way to farm crafting materials from specific Pokemon.
If you find yourself underleveled in any way, just turn to Let’s Go! mode and you’ll be up to speed in no time.
Tera Raids Equal Good Rewards
Similar to Max Raids in Pokemon Sword and Shield, Tera Raids involve a team of four Pokemon, each of which belong to different trainers, battling a “boss” Pokemon with rules and mechanics different from regular battles. In Scarlet and Violet, though, Tera Raids are against Terastalized Pokemon, rather than Dynamaxed Pokemon.
Terastalizing is the new gimmick mechanic in Scarlet and Violet, and is just deep enough to warrant its own guide — so we won’t talk about the nitty-gritty here. What we can tell you is that Tera Raids inform you in advance of the Tera Type of the Pokemon contained within each raid, through their map icons.
For example, a Tera Raid that has the Ice type icon will have a 100 percent chance of throwing an Ice-type Terastalized Pokemon at you. This makes it easier to plan ahead and take advantage of type matchups before heading in.
Tera Raids likewise give out some nice rewards for completion. Exp. Candies are perhaps the best goodies that Tera Raids drop, with higher-leveled raids dropping medium and large Exp. Candies that take the edge off of level grinding. They also drop crafting materials, which is great for those looking to craft TMs.
Go to School
Speaking of Exp. Candies, the teachers in Naranja Academy and Uva Academy (the schools featured heavily in the story) also hand them out to students that finish the myriad of academic classes. Each class focuses on a specific subject like history, math, and even battle studies (essentially PE in real life) — and have midterms and final exams.
Finishing each class’ midterm exam grants five small Exp. Candies, while completing the final exam grants five medium Exp. Candies. There’s quite a lot of dialogue to go through here, so it does take some time — but it’s well worth the effort early on in the game. Note that to unlock and complete a class all the way through, you will need to gather more Gym Badges — so if you hit a wall, go out there and challenge some gym leaders then hit the books again.
Explore the World
Last but certainly not the least considering this is an open world game: explore Paldea! There aren’t many NPCs outside of cities and outposts, so don’t expect this to be like The Elder Scrolls games or the Witcher games — but there are more than a few reasons to get your elbows out in the open world.
For one, you can find TMs out in the wild. This is crucial to filling out the TM Machine’s catalog of TMs available for crafting, and for giving your Pokemon better moves than they would otherwise learn through leveling up. There are some really strong moves tucked away out there, so keep your eyes peeled and let your curiosity take you into the nooks and crannies of Paldea.
Of course, there’s also the Pokemon. You can catch strong Pokemon (or at least, those that evolve into strong Pokemon) even in some of the early game areas. The first 10 to 15 percent of the map, for example, has Pokemon like Fletchling and Rookidee accessible as soon as you finish the “tutorial” section.
You can also find really useful items this way. We found a Life Orb off the ground in one of the higher-leveled areas, for instance. Normally, you would have to be in the post-game in previous titles to even obtain a Life Orb, but Scarlet and Violet just have it lying around. Definitely something you don’t want to miss.