Pokémon’s ninth-generation games, Scarlet and Violet, are about to have their sunset moment with the release of the Hidden Treasure of Area Zero epilogue on January 11. With that generation nearing its end, the future of the series is naturally a major topic of discussion. It’s unlikely that Pokémon’s Gen 10 game will launch in 2024, as the series is typically on a three-year cycle for each generation, so we’re probably due for a spin-off this year to fill the gap. But we can still dream about what a hypothetical Gen 10 game looks like. It feels like Scarlet and Violet were very much the testing grounds for the future of the series, as well as a possible final straw for fans’ patience with the state of these games. So with all this in mind, here are a few predictions, hopes, and dreams for what we’ll see in the next generation of Pokémon RPGs.
This may seem obvious, but if developer Game Freak insists on doubling down on the open-world format, it can’t release games that are as buggy as Scarlet and Violet. In theory, Gen 10 will kick off on the rumored Switch successor, so there should be a technical jump between Scarlet and Violet and wherever we go next. But even so, Scarlet and Violet feels broken in a way other open-world Switch games don’t, and that shouldn’t happen going forward.
The Pokémon brand has been able to withstand a lot of controversy over the years—hell, Pokémon’s last year was pretty much defined by controversy. But Scarlet and Violet’s poor technical performance was a new low. Whether it’s due to a lack of time or resources or speaks to Game Freak’s inability to adjust to the open-world format, Gen 10 can’t be the same technical train wreck.
Raids are one of the key elements that keeps players coming back to Pokémon games after they’ve rolled the credits, as they’re huge events requiring you to overcome difficult challenges in order to capture powerful Pokémon. But as fun as they can be, Scarlet and Violet’s Tera Raids were showcases for some of the game’s worst technical flubs. And it wasn’t just because of the aforementioned bugs and glitches, but its confusing UI. Often if you’re not coordinated with a team on a voice call, it can be hard to discern what they’re doing at any given moment. Sure, it will tell you what moves are being used, but it doesn’t outwardly communicate things like wait time and turn order. Plus, the entire match is on a time limit in a game prone to frozen and unresponsive UI—and some attack animations take longer than others, which further complicates things. Maybe rebalancing raids in Gen 10 around a set number of turns or, at the very least, finding some way to balance how long it takes to do certain actions over others could tighten the experience.
Some of my most precious memories in Scarlet and Violet were made while exploring the Paldea region with friends. We traversed the map with almost no loading screens and were free to run off and do our own things then reconvene—the co-op mode is largely why my Switch’s screenshot folder is full of selfies and photos from our adventures. It’s the messy realization of a childhood dream, and I’d love to see it explored further in Gen 10. Scarlet and Violet were pretty freeing with what you could do together, but there were some notable omissions: I’d love to be able to cheer on my friends as they take on a gym battle, though I recognize there are some narrative reasons for not being able to explore endgame dungeons like Area Zero until after everyone’s seen the credits.
But really, I’d just like more to do together in Gen 10. Scarlet and Violet’s Indigo Disk DLC started to get at this with its grindy BP system, which encouraged you to do menial tasks with your friends, but I’d love to see more crafted experiences for people to play together.
Most Pokémon games have a notable combat gimmick (like X and Y’s Mega Evolution that powers up specific Pokémon with a new form). One of the refreshing things about Scarlet and Violet’s Terastal phenomenon is that it can be used on any Pokémon. As fun as crafted, form-altering gimmicks can be, something that can be universal regardless of which Pokémon you have is both more reasonable from a resources standpoint, and can also help keep the competitive meta fresh by not giving a handful of ‘mons inherent advantages. Pokémon’s combat gimmicks are divisive,, as some players feel like they “dilute” the game, but they are a defining part of each game and each generation, so hopefully Game Freak continues this trend of letting everyone enjoy the buff.
One of the drawbacks of Scarlet and Violet’s open format is that a lot of its narrative threads don’t come together until the finale at Area Zero, which means cast members like the feisty rival Nemona, angsty frenemy Arven, and the enigmatic and aloof Penny don’t spend a lot of time together. But getting the entire cast of adventuring trainers together at the eleventh hour underlined just how special those characters were, while reminding us that they’d unfortunately only shared minimal screentime. Pokémon X and Y tried to maintain a consistent cast dynamic throughout gameplay, but it feels like Game Freak’s writing chops are in a much better place these days to make something more affective.
On that note, it’s time for Pokémon to add voice-acting into its mainline games. Spin-offs like Detective Pikachu and New Pokémon Snap have voice actors reading lines for their central characters in the big cutscenes, but as the tentpole RPGs have recently adopted a more cinematic approach, it’s become even more jarring that Pokémon games don’t have voice acting. It’s a testament to the strength of Game Freak’s writing team that moments like the final hours of Scarlet and Violet and Legends: Arceus are still as memorable as they are without it, but those incredible stories deserve talented voices to give them new life.
One of the coolest details in Scarlet and Violet was that its private Pokemon school setting featured adult students. While we still played as a kid this time around, as is typically the case in the series, I’d love to see the Gen 10 games really lean into how far-reaching Pokémon is in terms of demographics. A lot of us have been playing Pokémon since we were very young, but we’re grown now, and I’d love us to be able to pick adult protagonists. Sure, there might be some tweaking of dialogue here and there, but smart writing can accommodate a hero that could be a kid, teen, or adult.
Even after some updates in the DLC, Scarlet and Violet’s photo mode is a hassle. You can only take photos of your character and Pokémon through your in-game cell phone, and it’s really limiting compared to other in-game photo modes out there. Pokémon is the kind of series where great in-game photography is crucial, as every player’s experience is uniquely their own—taking and sharing photos is a great way to show how different players’ stories are. Gen 10 doesn’t need a Ghost of Tsushima or Cyberpunk 2077-level photo mode with hundreds of switches to flip and knobs to turn, but could use a mode that lets us simply and easily compose a shot.
Projects like the new stop-motion Netflix series Pokémon Concierge resonate with people because a lot of us just want to vibe with the weird little guys we store in Poké Balls—we don’t just want to become a Pokémon Champion. Scarlet and Violet have some cute ideas, like letting you have picnics with your Pokémon, give them baths, and, somewhat bizarrely, control them with a headset, but I’m always open for more little things that let us just hang out with our party.
It’s easy to feel like the Pokemon are sanded down until they’re just numbers, stats, and movesets, so every chance we get to hang out with our friends in a different context adds to the connection they sing about in the anime’s theme songs. Yeah, sure we’ll defeat the Elite Four, but I also just want to hang out with my Raichu without him knocking out some punk ass Zubat.
My biggest hope moving forward is that Pokémon games will use Pokémon Legends: Arceus as the blueprint. Scarlet and Violet may have made the first “true” open-world Pokémon game, but some of the best parts of Legends: Arceus—from its fluid traversal to engaging with Pokémon in real-time like an action game—weren’t replicated in the 2022 RPGs. If open-world is the future of Pokémon, it should marry elements of both games, but Legends: Arceus’ fluid movement and action-oriented approach is easily the better foot forward. It’s worth noting that the games had overlapping development cycles, so hopefully Gen 10 has the time and space to learn lessons from them both
What say you, trainers? What do you hope we see in Pokémon’s next generational leap? Let us know down below.
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