The new Pokémon Scarlet and Violet region does something unprecedented

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet trainers running
(Image credit: Nintendo)

In North East Paldea, there’s a section of forest on an elevated plateau that’s been eluding me for hours now. Despite my attempts at exploration, I simply can’t find a way to get there. After half an hour of tentatively riding around the region below, I’m close to giving up. It’s then that I realize I’ve been a colossal idiot: the sentient motorcycle I’ve been using to travel around the place can glide. 

I’ve been approaching this problem as if I was a 2D sprite in Pokémon Red or Blue, unable to access the forbidden third dimension – until now. I pulled up the map and plotted a course to the snow-covered mountainous region to the North West. If I could get to a high enough point, I could float down to my objective with all the grace and ease of a Drifblim. 

As I reached the top of a nearby snowy mountain, I could see my goal in the distance. Diving off the mountain and asking motorbike-like Miraidon to unfurl its wings for gliding mode, I went for it. As I saw the world below me, I couldn’t help but grin. At last, the greatest triumph of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet became clear to me: I wasn’t just on a by-the-numbers adventure, I was exploring a Pokémon world. In moments, I’d landed at my destination and took in my surroundings. Despite its bugs and flaws, Pokémon Violet had given me a true sense of wonder and adventure. 

Welcome to the playground

Pokemon pack behaviour 2

(Image credit: Future)

The limited, on-rails experience of previous games is entirely dispensed with in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. You can go where you please. You can play it safe, or venture out of your comfort zone to a more dangerous location crawling with higher-level Pokémon. Want to head up a mountain and catch some sort of nonsense bird Pokémon? Want to explore a cave and get beaten up by a Dugtrio? Live the dream.     

It’s weirdly fulfilling to watch a group of Makuhita shuffle awkwardly around a nearby Hariyama.

Maybe looking to games like Monster Hunter Rise that are filled with believably-behaving fantastical creatures, Game Freak show uses the open world to show Pokémon in their natural habitat. 

Weaker monsters roam in packs, often sticking to a single tougher creature for protection. It’s weirdly fulfilling to watch a group of Makuhita shuffle awkwardly around a nearby Hariyama. It's far more immersive than the on-rails world of Pokémon Sword and Shield.

Variables in the world, like weather and the day/night cycle, affect the types of monster you run into. It forces even a Pokémon veteran like me to replace my callous, calculating arithmetic with a sense of wonder. No longer am I concerned with notions like catching the “optimal” Pokémon. Now, it’s all about the adventure. I capture what I want and roam wherever I desire. It is profoundly liberating and does serious justice to the Pokémon fantasy.

The verge of greatness

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, trainer in open world with party

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Regrettably, almost every compliment I pay to Scarlet and Violet’s open world must be accompanied by an uncomfortable caveat: the game is riddled with bugs and performance issues. Texture popping, animation glitches and input delays seem to be par for the course in Paldea. 

Though far from unplayable, these technical problems are the single most important factor that keeps Scarlet and Violet from realizing its ambitions. For every gorgeous vista I encountered, there was another otherwise great view spoiled by texture popping or janky animations in the distance. It was a bizarre mountaineer’s lottery.

Strangely enough, it’s hard to focus on the gorgeous horizon when, in the corner of your eye, you can see a group of bird Pokémon stuck in eerie animation limbo. Instead of looking out at the serene view, I find myself wondering what exactly those birds did to deserve such a fate.   

Without these issues, however, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet would be the definitive Pokémon experience – head and shoulders above recent entries in the series, and a realization of the promise of the Kanto days.

Without these issues, however, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet would be the definitive Pokémon experience – head and shoulders above recent entries in the series, and a realization of the promise of the Kanto days. It is heartbreaking and bizarre that a first-party Nintendo Switch title is so riddled with technical holes.

A patch or two would work wonders to transform this flawed gem into something truly pristine. We can only hope that Game Freak and Nintendo are receptive to the needs of their fans. The strides made in Scarlet and Violet are huge, and it would be a shame to see them lost under a crust of technical issues and glitches when, beneath those problems, there is so much to celebrate and enjoy.

Cat Bussell
Staff Writer

Cat Bussell is a Staff Writer at TechRadar Gaming. Hailing from the crooked spires of London, Cat is an experienced writer and journalist. As seen on Wargamer.com, TheGamer.com, and Superjumpmagazine.com, Cat is here to bring you coverage from all corners of the video game world. An inveterate RPG maven and strategy game enjoyer, Cat is known for her love of rich narratives; both story-driven and emergent. 


Before migrating to the green pastures of games journalism, Cat worked as a political advisor and academic. She has three degrees and has studied and worked at Cambridge University, University College London, and Queen Mary University of London. She's also been an art gallery curator, an ice cream maker, and a cocktail mixologist. This crash course in NPC lifestyles uniquely qualifies her to pick apart only the juiciest video games for your reading pleasure. 


Cat cut her teeth on MMOs in the heyday of World of Warcraft before giving in to her love of JRPGs and becoming embedded in Final Fantasy XIV. When she's not doing that, you might find her running a tabletop RPG or two, perhaps even voluntarily.