Think Pokémon X & Y Are Too Easy? Try This

Think Pokémon X & Y Are Too Easy? Try This.

As much as I enjoyed Pokemon X & Y, even I will admit that the games are kind of on the easy side. If a lack of challenge is a thing that bothers you, good news, chief. There are things you can do to keep things interesting in Pokemon X & Y.

Let's start with a tactic I mentioned in my tips article and go from there.

Don't Grind (Much)

I know, I know. Choosing not to grind in a role-playing game with levels and experience points? That's kind of like choosing not to go for headshots in a shooter! And yet, very little of X & Y's design — which always keeps you moving forward, always seeing and doing new things — suggests that staying in a few patches of grass for hours at a time, farming enemies for experience points, is something Game Freak did not intend.

In my 33 hours playing through the main game, I spent maybe an hour or two, tops, grinding. Really, most of that time was me trying to see all the Pokemon available in new areas for my Pokedex, not an active attempt to grind. But not spending an extended period of time grinding and becoming more powerful meant I stayed in a sweet spot where I couldn't just roll through my enemies by finding their weaknesses. Some battles, particularly those toward the end of the game, were too close for comfort.

So my advice is: do battle everyone you come across, don't run away from any random encounters, don't use items like repel — battle as much as you can, basically, just don't go out of your way to level your Pokemon up more than what is normally unavoidable. If done right, the game should provide an occasional challenge.

Play Online

The systems and mechanics that give life to our favourite little critters are actually surprisingly complex...but the main game does a crap job of showing you that's the case. The bulk of what you need to know when playing against AI is what the different weaknesses are — knowledge of strategy beyond that isn't required.

That's not the case when you play against other people online. People are clever. People use strategy. People will do their best to win — and this means reading up on abilities, natures, breeding, EVs, IVs, items, builds and team composition. It's much harder to simply spam a Pokemon's weakness when a trainer anticipates that you'll try to do exactly that.

Now, I know that playing online can sometimes be an awful experience, and the idea of a JRPG with an online experience is also kind of weird. But not only is Pokemon a far cry from playing a shooter on Xbox Live, the online features in X & Y are so robust, accessible and integral to the experience that, if you choose to not go online despite having the ability to do so, you're straight up playing the game wrong. Hell, at at that point you might as well play an older iteration of the franchise that doesn't have all the wonderful online features that X & Y do.

So, if you can, play against other people as you go along — there are ranked and unranked battles; feel out what works best for you. And if you can't go online, playing offline does mean you get the core Pokemon experience, but not the full, modern Pokemon experience.

Do A Nuzlocke Run

You know of permadeath runs — playthroughs of games that require you to stop going forward once you die? Pokemon has something like that, though it's not built-in to the game. It's called 'Nuzlocke,' and it's a set of rules that someone came up with back in Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire that make the Pokemon games makes things significantly harder. Since then, veterans have continued to use Nuzlocke — and you can, too.

There are many variations to it, but these are the rules I use when going through the game:

1. You can only capture and use the first Pokemon you encounter in each new area, and no others. So if the first Pokemon you encounter in route X is an Oddish, you can capture and use that Oddish, but no other Pokemon on route X. On top of that, if the first Pokemon you encounter in a new area faints, you can't catch any Pokemon in that area. Whatever Pokemon you do catch, however, must be nicknamed. No curses, though. Not my rule, just Game Freak's.

2. If a Pokemon in your party faints, that's it. It's 'dead.' You gotta release it. Kind of morbid, but thems the rules!

3. You can't play with traded Pokemon, unless it's a Pokemon an NPC can trade you.

4. No resets.

5. If you black out (as in, if all the Pokemon in your party faint), that's it. The playthrough is done. Game over. You gotta restart if you wanna keep playing.

The idea behind these rules is that they not only keep the game interesting, they also force players to use Pokemon they'd normally never use. And because of the challenge and restrictions, many trainers come to feel that they form stronger bonds with their Pokemon — which is pretty neat!

Traditionally, people who do Nuzlocke runs sometimes also do comics documenting the experience, as the original Nuzlocker did — you can check some of 'em out here.

Here are some variations/additional rules you can add to Nuzlocke, courtesy of Bulbapedia:

Starter Pokémon is based off the player's Trainer ID number. If the last number is 1-3 the player starts with a Grass type, 4-6 is Fire type, 7-9 is Water type, 0 is the player's choice.

Not officially enforcing the rules until the player has Poké Balls and can catch Pokémon. For example, the PoochyenaRS/ZigzagoonE that the player has to save Professor Birch from is not counted as the first encounter on the route, and not counting any other encounters as such until they can catch. Likewise, in the games where the rival battle is immediately after getting the starter Pokémon, the "any that faint must be released" rule is not enforced at that time.

Use the same amount of Pokémon as the opponent during a Gym battle or rival battle.

Going to options and making the battle style "set", leaving the player unable to switch out.

After the first wild Pokémon was caught, the starter Pokémon must be released.

Banning the use of Potions and healing items, relying only on Pokémon Centres for healing.

Banning the use of Pokémon Centres, relying only on Potions and healing items for healing

Limiting Pokémon Center visits to a certain number per town.

Banning the use of held items.

Limiting the number of Poké Balls to purchase per Poké Mart.

Banning the use of Master Balls.

Rather than releasing the Pokémon, it can be permanently boxed, migrated, or transferred with Poké Transfer should it happen to faint.

The player may not evolve captured Pokémon, but evolved Pokémon may be caught.

No catching/using legendary Pokémon.

If the player runs into a Shiny Pokémon on the incredibly rare chance, the player may still catch it, regardless of whether or not it is the first encounter in the area. It also does not need to be released if it faints.

As another mercy rule, each gym badge acts as a checkpoint. If the player gets a game over, they can start from when they got their previous gym badge.

If the player has no Pokémon that can use a certain field move that is required to continue through any given point of the game, they may catch another Pokémon that can learn said field move. However, it cannot be used in battle for any reason, and must be released, permanently boxed, or migrated as soon as the player gets another Pokémon that can use said field move.

Modifying the "first encounter only" rule for the Safari Zone, sometimes allowing one encounter for each area, or until they catch one Pokémon in the entire area, and vice versa.

Banning the use of Poké Marts.

Disallow fleeing.

Setting a level limit based on the next Gym Leader's/Champion's highest levelled Pokémon. Any team members that surpass that limit before taking on the Gym Leader or Elite Four must be released.

Most of these are general Pokemon things, though. Let's add X & Y-specific stipulations, shall we? Here's one.

A Nuzlocke run in X & Y MUST require players to max out a Pokemon's friendship in Pokemon Amie.This is something that should take maybe 30 minutes tops, and since it's a mode that requires you to pet, play with and feed your Pokemon, chances that you'll care about the Pokemon are even higher. Excellent. This bond means that if that Pokemon ever faints/'dies', it'll hurt even more.

And here's an optional variation, let's call it the Wonder Run: instead of playing with whatever Pokemon you first encounter in a new area, catch six Pokemon. Any Pokemon will do. Then go into Wonder Trade, which is a new online feature that lets you get a random Pokemon in exchange for one of your own, and trade these six Pokemon away. Whatever you get in return, that's your team. From there, you can proceed as if it's a Nuzlocke Run.

Do Other Types of Runs

Mono-type run: Pick a type — fire, water, grass, what have you — and go forward with a team of only that type. You can pretend you're a gym leader if you'd like.

Solo-run: You get one Pokemon, and one Pokemon only. Add additional Nuzlocke rules, if you'd like.

Community run: Your friends or strangers pick your team, and the moves to go along with every Pokemon. You have to go with it, regardless of what team or moves you end up with...but just to balance things out, at least one of these moves has to be an attack move, ha.

Explore The Post-Game

Now, I won't spoil what comes after you beat the main game...but I will say a variety of new areas open up, as well as challengers who put up a good fight. You also have the option of playing against souped-up versions of previous opponents, like your rivals. It's still not the same as playing against a person that knows what they're doing, but still. It's something.

Catch 'Em All

The tagline for the franchise is no laughing matter. There are more than 700 Pokemon now, and getting a hold of all of them is hard. Give this challenge a try, if you dare — especially if you don't care about the battling in Pokemon. You can think of it a bit like trying to get a full set of furniture in Animal Crossing, only there are hundreds of pieces to collect.

Pokemon has never been a particularly challenging game — and while usually that's worked against the franchise, X & Y is the first instance where the lack of difficulty isn't particularly bothersome for everyone. Still, breezing through a game isn't everyone's cup of tea, and I'd hate for you to pass on one of the 3DS' best experiences because of the lack of difficulty. So, hopefully these tips help — but surely they're not the only options you have to keep things interesting in X & Y. Feel free to share any advice or playstyles you've adopted to make X & Y challenging in the comments!


    After beating the game just 2 nights ago I would have to agree on the difficulty - having battles on "set" is the immediate way to escalate difficulty.

    Also multiplayers pretty tough competition too, I'm having a lot of fun with that

    - but besides the battle mansion/multiplayer battles I'm a little bored post game, any other recommendations?


      Go to Luimose City and you should get a holo-cast from Looker, which will open up missions to complete.

      I haven't yet post game yet, not even half way (yay Uni) however I do know that turning off XP Share helps amp the difficulty quiet a bit along with SET mode. Post game isn't much from what I hear, but I can't help think there's more content i,e, another region/area/zone that GF plan to unlock later on, just subtle hints in the game etc.

      ok... here we go like any other pokemon game:
      Breeding... like always, with those breeds make perfect pokemon for online play
      like i did today: breed charmender with jolly nature and 31 speed/attack IVs, then Horde Farm for full speed and attack and 6 HP EVs, then do league for a level boost to around 40-42, do battle chateau for the last few levels, cause if u battle here alot at some point there will be well dressed trainers with audino teams (they give me 10k (lucky egg + exp boost lv 2) each) i get 3 audinos per team now so thats most times 3-12 levels per clean, and u get alot of money and you get ranks in that building for medals on PGL. that covers the battle chateau, then for ur items u need to do alot of battle institute and maison. has kept me busy for a total of 175:50 hours atm and still counting. then there is always the friend safari, you can get alot of friend codes via chat rooms, most times i go to pokemon showdown and then there trade room u get a dozen in a few minutes. and finally after all this training there is the online ranked matches :3

      if u ever feel like searching my PGL im also named FonZ and in TOP 10 of Netherlands (NLD) ranked matches :3

    "enjoy post game"

    yeah good one, there's bugger all to do post game

    She didn't mention it at all, somehow, but obviously you'll want to turn off EXP Share as soon as you get it.
    It's the most casual thing ever.

      It's casual to not want to waste time individually training every individual pokemon ? Who knew.

        The difference between using it and not is quite staggering, and it's a vast change from the next closest option, the old EXP. All.
        It's a crazy 250%* difference per battle. 350%* experience for not turning off an item you get virtually out of the gate. (*Assuming you have a full party, and only one pokemon is fighting per battle.)

        I get it, some people just don't have time to pour hours into a video game. They've got university or work or their own children to deal with, or (given what is probably Pokemon's advertised audience) maybe they're just 12 years old. And that's fair enough. There's absolutely nothing wrong with this.
        It's why they put easy modes in games, like Dark Souls 2. You want to be able to get through the whole thing without having to put too much effort into it, you want to be able to see the world and experience everything the game has to offer without "wasting time" doing it on a harder difficulty. To keep using Dark Souls 2 as an example, all those deaths on higher difficulties would stack up, and you'd be less likely to see the end game soon in comparison. But, this is an article on making the game harder, so if you don't want the game to be too easy, turn off the "free EXP" button.

        So, yes, to reword your question, I think giving away free experience from the start is just a little bit on the casualisation side, yes. There are a lot of touches in this game that make it easier than the previous generations, but this blatant exp boost is by far the most obvious one.

          I think GameFreak intended to let gamers use more pokemon while getting trough the game, myself have already trained many pokemon, thing that didn't happened in the past, I think they do not want you to keep the same pokemons from the start until the end of the game, if you think about the number of pokemons available, it sound very reasonable. Right now I'm getting near 8th Gym, my Kalos pokedex is almost full, as i have used many monsters.

            I agree the new exp share seems more in line with Balance - now that we have over 700 different monsters to catch levelling up every one manually is just too much of a chore.

            This is coming from someone who's bred/ev trained up competitive teams since Sapphire.

    I just can't bring myself to care about shit like EV's or how to breed the perfect Pokemon. The learning curve is too damn steep and frankly it's for little to no reward. Maybe that's changed in X & Y, maybe there's now an incentive for playing online, but if I have to learn about EV's, IV's, Natures and how to breed the perfect Pokemon, then what's the damn point? It sounds like people put more effort into breeding the pokemon for battles than actually having fun battling them

      I have always known about EV and IV and only recently bothered to care about EV.

      Yet yesterday i went searching on how one would get a pokemon with near perfect IV's (which are set from capture or "birth"). Realised it involved an insane process of finding ditto's with the right stats (a new ditto for each stat), though rough breeding of ALOT of pokemon and then 50% of the stats are random anyway.

      Needless to say the process is arduous and astoundingly time consuming to the point where it's existence angers me because to play competitively these are needed. Having an extra 0-31 stat points in each stat at level 100 over a competitor is an instant win unless there is an extreme skill difference. Which means if you want to battle seriously you are forced to undertake this stupid task, in which case wouldn't it not have just been better to make them all equal from the get go?

      Anyway it put me off considerably.

      Last edited 22/10/13 3:58 pm

        I think you may have read a breeding guide for older generations. X & Y makes it much, much easier. Try this thread on Smogon:

          That makes it easier for concurrent breeds but in the mean time you still have to get a pokemon with good IV's to breed with in the first place.
          Even with this change it's only the final step which makes it go from 3 random to 1 random stat, hardly a good enough change and won't make a difference to most people who like me don't want to spend 50 hours breeding 6 pokemon just to battle competitively.

        0-31 stats is an instant win? You basically already said that you're not using the online battle feature but if it's because of this mindset you're blatantly wrong and just avoiding it from misconceptions. Unless you're in a tournament or something where EVERYBODY has perfect IVs and are playing perfectly 30 pts difference in any one stat will not even be noticeable 99% of the time. As for natures and EVs that's just being lazy. Natures you can spend the one hour of catching dittos and be done with every nature ever from then on. You can get up to 50/255 ev's needed in one battle this generation. Meaning finishing one stat in 5 battles. If you can't handle that then.... wow...

      Its been streamlined in this game: Natures, don't bother looking it up constantly, instead just notice that the font on your stats might show blue or red, blue means a 10% reduction of the stat so don't invest into building it, and red means an increase so go for it. As for EVs, they introduced mini games to max it out so no need to calculate anything. IVs and breeding... are post game fodder, just trade with friends.

    None of these are good enough Patricia, artificially gimping yourself by playing to absurd rules isn't fun for 99% of the population.

    Personally I think that the developers have just nuked the game beyond recognition difficulty wise. The game has just become far to easy for no understandable reason and it would be quite simple to offer an a regular or "harder" playthrough from the get go.

    I mean just recently i had a trainer spam sand attack for an entire battle on my doublade while I just powered it with sword dance for 3 turns then OHKO everything because doublade can't actually miss. I still have water pokemon using watersport against my grass pokemon or watching a pokemon use the same normal move on my ghost 6 times in a row despite 7 turns ago hitting me with a super effective move. The game has gotten even easier, which is compounded by the fact that exp share now gives insane exp and couple with a lucky egg and the aime(that pokemon sex massage app) your pokemon can grow 20+ levels above a gym by end game without any grinding.

    With that rant out of the way the biggest thing i can recommend is TURN OFF EXP SHARE, don't use the lucky egg, don't raise your friendship or w/e it is with your pokemon and skip all non trainer battles, don't even catch pokemon. Though I'd wager the game is built from the ground up to use all these things and that by not using any of them you might gimp yourself to a point where grinding would become necessary to continue.

    Last edited 22/10/13 3:47 pm

    Not sure how this one forces people thru the game fast, im 13 hrs in and only have 1 gym under my belt. 90 pokemans in my pokedex tho.

      As I read in either another thread or possibly in the chat of a livestream, the games haven't necessarily gotten easier, but we have gotten better at playing them, even those of us that haven't gotten into competitive battling.

      I dunno I only leveled a handful of pokemon and used them throughout the entire game and finished in 27/28 hours (almost no grinding so I had plenty of challenge). It was boring as heck using Blastoise so often though and not using type advantage much. I recommend you play at your own pace and have fun :)

    - Cover the top part of the screen, play the game with sound only.

    - Every time you defeat a trainer you take a shot of whisky or scotch and aim for a 2-3 hour session and see how far you get in the game.

    - Play the game while driving

    There you go...some more challenges.

    Ok, I havnt played this version of Pokemon, but people forget that Pokemon games have always been easy. This is, and always has been a kids game.

    Last edited 22/10/13 9:57 pm

    I never grind in pokemon games to purposely stay under levelled against gyms and elite 4, but in X and Y despite no grinding my team managed to be OVER LEVELLED when I finally reached the elite 4.

      Same here. I had a team of 4 members, and they were all overlevelled by 20+ levels by the time I got to the elite 4. It was less a fight and more a slaughter.

    i felt as though it was easy but it was really fun was great seeing all the awesome things they managed to do with the 3d capabilities. just because a game is easy doesnt mean its too easy because even being overleveled it still took a week to beat(not playing all the time but still). the one thing i had trouble with was getting used to all the new online things you can do. i feel a little dumb because i didnt realize you could get starters and rare pokemon really easy in the online trading systems(after i knew i got all starters, a rotom, dratini, and a zapdos. my life officially rules! :P ).

    I started playing Pokemon with Crystal on a GBC and have played almost every version since then. I bought a 3DS so I could play X & Y. Up until this iteration I considered Emerald to have the best gameplay. I think X & Y has the best playing experience so far. I found the DS iterations frustratingly slow to play.
    Having said that. I am disappointed at how fast I levelled up. For the first time ever I found myself forced to go to a gym to avoid losing control of my Pokemon.
    The lack of a good post game world to move around is also a disappointment.
    A repeat of the depth in Emerald using this engine would be truly awesome.

    The game was entirely too easy and *bites lip* monotonous, especially when dealing with Team Flare.
    I was deeply offended by the Exp Share when I received it. and turned it off until about half-way through the game.

    I essentially did a solo Run after route 8:
    I caught an Absol, ground her up to lvl 20 (to match my other pokemon, which I basically considered HM-saves), super trained her a 3rd of the way, and proceeded to win 95% of all following battles with 1-2 Hit KO's.

    Having completely laid waste to all who challenged my Absol and I, I'm now sitting in a post-game world, holding the long-desired Absolite for my Absol and resigned to the bittersweet idea that we have little left to test our might and little left to explore. Having been spoiled by the delicious post-game world of Pokemon Gold (the only other pokemon RPG I've played fully), I'm a bit disappointed.

    I'm put off by online play. I just want a pokemon adventure that will best Pokemon Gold.

      Pokemon Silver/Gold post game was solid (for games generally) and as you say, deliciously spoily (for a pokemon game)

    Did you just tell me I'm playing the game wrong because I choose not to play online?
    You should go fuck yourself.

    um you cant go solo with one pokemon because you need more than 4 hidden moves like fly so i suggest if you want to do it use 3 pokemon

    just putting it out there that i did the game in 30hrs, so very minimal grinding except maybe 1 point but still found it very easy. In saying that I loved the game, couldn't put it down (still playing as we speak) probably one of the best storylines of the pokemon series (that I've played) so far.

    I have never bothered to pay attention to breeding or IV's. In this game, I DID play those enjoyable mini-games to give my Pokemon stronger stats (but I didn't balance it or pick one, just whichever mini-game I had wanted). The game, for even a casual but long time-Pokemon player, was just too easy with Experience Share. That being said, I consider it needed with the vastness of Pokemon now in our reach. I don't consider it cheating, especially since it allows us to raise so many Pokemon and create new teams. In the past, you'd never utilize so many! Isn't that far more important than individually training every-so-one? Also, I utilized the friendship function. It was so wonderful to hear my Pokemon avoid fainting because it loved me so much! It would even shake off status issue! No need to use items!

    For all of those who are bashing us casual players and desperately defending your need to breed, YES, it is highly time consuming and annoying, EVEN WITH the new additions. There's a crap ton of math now involved, and lots of reading. I would rather spent more time in my reality. I'm not saying that all of you don't have lives, but don't pretend that the amount of time and effort you're putting into breeding amounts to laziness and nothingness. It's unappealing to me, a long time player, and I'll stick with simply knowing my weakness/resistances, and awesome items. For those of you who actually enjoy the heavy math and constant reptition, FANTASTIC, you are a minority of heavy-handed players and KUDOS to you! I'm not choosing to "enjoy" my game this way because that's not the type of a game I find fun. I'll stick to collecting and MAYBE improving my stats. Heck, I may just trade-away with heavier handed players. My problem resolved!

    It's such a relief to know that here are others who enjoy taking full advantage of the advantages giving to you in game, and it's great to know that now new players can enjoy it, too.

    That being said, I am annoyed with the post-game content. I heaviy enjoyed it. I also enjoy heading out online to trade or battle people to see their interesting tactics. Whether or not their Pokemon are "perfect" is of no concern to me right now.

    I did a wonderlocke, Ended up with Archen, Hawlucha, Goomy, Weedle, Honedge and a Protean Froakie

    So.. I just finIshed the game (y) and I'm confused. I went back to the Pokemon league to say hi to the elite four and I'm being forced to battle them again. My question is: f I beat all four again the next action would be to enter the champions room and defeat them but since I've already beat the league once, I font see how I could beat it again.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now