I Already Don’t Like Pokemon Scarlet & Violet’s Far Cry-Style Enemy Base Attacks
I'm sold on Pokemon Scarlet & Violet. I've had my heart broken before, but I never learn. This Pokemon game looks like it has everything I want from a Pokemon game, and my heart is already all in. I'm just waiting for The Pokemon Company to call. I'm a lot more positive on Legends: Arceus than a lot of other Pokemon fans, and have always thought that Scarlet & Violet following on from Legends' open world sensibilities was a master stroke. The latest trailer shows off a lot of Pokemon busy work, but honestly, that kind of nonsense only makes me love it more. I filled the currydex in Galar. I can't wait to make Gardevoir a sandwich. There's one element of the latest trailer which puts a damper on my excitement though, and that's the Far Cry-style bases. Why on earth do they exist?
I had been so worried about Pokemon getting in its own way as it has done so many times before that I didn't stop to consider the fact that even if it does the open world thing perfectly, open world games just suck sometimes. They are crammed with a lot of menial tasks dreamed up in meeting rooms with pie charts tracking player engagement and hours logged. They don't care that most of us sweep up the tasks at the end of open world sagas out of obligation, staring at the screen with glazed, square eyes while drool leaks from our cracked lips.
No one enjoys this busy work. Ubisoft, for a long time, has been the biggest culprit. So much so that map-clearing tasks are often dismissed as Ubisoft level design. I loved Far Cry 3 but I have slowly fallen out of love with the series, the magic breaking as the formulas are repeated, the maps stretched wider and our time ever more wasted. One of the best parts of Far Cry 3 though, was sneaking up on enemy bases and either assassinating each guard one by one from the shadows, or taking them all out at once in a blaze of bullets. Unfortunately, this has been brought back in not only every Far Cry since, but pretty much every open world game since, and has gotten progressively duller and more formulaic.
Pokemon's take is slightly different. I'm not skulking around with Roselia ready to plunge its thorns into the necks of my would-be competitors in the challenge to be the very best, like no one ever was. The process has been Pokemonised, but it remains frustratingly familiar. You walk up to the base and enter via the gates, then make your way around the compound battling whoever you see. Despite Team Star's flair, it's a very bland base too. At the end, you must win a boss battle in order to claim the base and clear it. The final battle was conspicuously not shown in the trailer, so if that does something different it may make all this worthwhile, but right now it feels very predictable and yet also surprising. I thought Pokemon as an open world game might stumble because of Pokemon's frequent failings. I never considered that the pitfalls of the genre itself might get the better of it.
I'm still all aboard the heartbreak express for Pokemon Scarlet & Violet. All of the minor things showed off in today's trailer only won me over more, and I even like terastalising. As a Legends: Arceus fan, Scarlet & Violet was halfway there for me anyway, but base clearing makes me wary that more open world tropes might be lurking on the horizon. As long as I don't have to do an escort mission, maybe it'll be okay.
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