Pokémon Scarlet And Violet Saves Its Worst Technical Disaster For Online Raids

Pokémon Scarlet And Violet Saves Its Worst Technical Disaster For Online Raids

We’ve chronicled the many, serious issues with Pokémon Scarlet and Violet since its release last month, but there’s one aspect — worse than any other — that has not received enough attention: Its abysmal online raids.

Pokémon SV reimagines the Gigantamax raids from Sword and Shield, where up to four players can take on a single, superpowered Pokémon. In the previous games, the raid Pokémon were simply very big. This time they’re “terastalized,” taking on a crystalized form that makes them tougher to defeat. The new raids, with their peculiar mix of free-for-all and turn-based attacks, ultimately don’t work.

Whereas players previously took their turns to launch an attack before the Pokémon would fire back, there’s now an odd mishmash of both. Players are able to take their turns all at once, but they still have to wait for the Pokémon to perform its retaliation before being able to follow up. This makes for a confusing start, even when playing offline alongside three all-but-useless AI companions. But go online, and it really gets bad.

Read More: Pokémon Scarlet And Violet: The Kotaku Review

Basically, it all goes to shit.

Raids are supposed to follow a certain pattern. In an even fight, players get to perform about two attacks each before the Pokémon pulls in some manner of energy around it and buffs its HP bar with a chunk of crystal. To fight back against this, players need to get a third attack in, which then lets them terastalize their own monster, and blast away at that tougher belt of hit points. All the while, there’s a time bar counting down, at the end of which — should you not defeat it — the target Pokémon unleashes all this energy, and everyone’s flung out of the raid.

Should your Pokémon get knocked out at any point, you have a five-second penalty before respawning the first time, 10 seconds the next time, and it’s unlikely you’ll ever have time for a third.

Screenshot: Nintendo / Kotaku
Screenshot: Nintendo / Kotaku

It almost never goes like this. Instead, when playing online via the Poké Portal, should you be lucky enough to get past the dreadful lobby, raids tend to go more like this:

You launch your first attack, and it knocks off far less of the Pokémon’s HP than you’re expecting. The Pokémon responds, but the attack takes ages to happen. Then, after it does, the menu to do your second attack doesn’t appear. And still doesn’t appear. And then appears, but when you click on it, nothing happens, but a “Y: Check status” option starts flashing, although pressing Y does nothing.

Then, just as the attack menu finally reappears, the camera cuts to the target Pokémon, who’s now noisily shaking off all effects from attacks. When it cuts back to you, you hit A to choose an attack, but it cuts back to the Pokémon again, who’s now apparently removing buffs that none of you could have had time to apply. You get your second attack in, and then notice the time counter suddenly jump from three-quarters full to under halfway, for no reason at all.

(Oh, and if you got knocked out at any point, it won’t start your five-second countdown until after it’s finished this tiresome series of lengthy interruptions, or often just never bother to do it at all.)

The Pokémon then terastalizes, before letting you go through the previous events when trying to do your third attack, so you can terastalize back. Except at that point, it suddenly announces that the Pokémon has stolen some of your Tera Orb energy, so you’ve got to get a fourth attack in. Except, the time bar just jumped again from a third left to all but nothing, and then before time runs out, you’re blasted out of the raid.

Or perhaps you’ll have a very different version of this, where for no understandable reason, the six-star Charizard you’re battling suddenly seems to lose most of its health in one inexplicable leap, and you get to catch it before it even buffs its HP.

Or perhaps my favourite: the one where you’ve got the Pokémon’s HP down to zero, but for some reason, it doesn’t faint. So you all do another attack against its empty HP bar, and then it blasts you out of the raid as losers.

Screenshot: Nintendo / Kotaku
Screenshot: Nintendo / Kotaku

To be clear, this can happen with a team of level 100 Pokémon against the tera-beast. It appears to be entirely up to the broken software’s mercurial whim.

As I say, any of this cavalcade of tedium happens only if you fluke your way through the lobby. Here, you’re offered eight raids to choose from, but should you fail to get into the first you pick (which takes a full 45 seconds saying “Connecting…” before it’ll admit you didn’t get into the raid), all the others on-screen will have been filled and started long ago. You then have to sit and wait for the “Check for new postings” button to ping live, which takes a minute and 30 seconds (why?!), and repeat the process until you’re randomly lucky. Or unlucky, depending upon how broken the following raid proves to be.

Given that you have to pay for a Nintendo Online subscription to be even allowed to take part in all of this, it’s outstandingly galling. This is such basic stuff, just hooking up a mere four people to play together via the internet, and yet it’s clearly far beyond the reach of the software and infrastructure being used. Sure, sometimes it works and you get what feels like a “fair” raid (whether you win or lose), but in my experience, that’s less than half the time.

Since such raids are the only way to get certain Pokémon, not least Charizard, and a means to catch monsters exclusive to the version of the game you don’t have, they aren’t just a frivolous bonus. It’s an extremely frustrating experience, from the sluggish menus, to the unlikely chance of getting into a raid, to the huge wait before you can reload the available ones, to the enormous chances of all that time being wasted.

Oh, and I forgot how you can’t see the levels of the other players you’re battling with, so you’ve no idea if it’s a fruitless endeavour. And you get bounced back to the game world whether you win or lose, leaving you to go through all the menus again. And, in addition to the enemy’s HP bar bouncing around, it sometimes disappears entirely, meaning you have no way to know where you are in the battle.

I don’t have a solution. I just want you to know it’s not just you, and it’s certainly not good enough.


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