Nintendo and Game Freak surprised Pokéfans yesterday (Feb. 27) with the unexpected announcement of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. During a Sunday-morning livestream, Nintendo covered small updates to Pokémon Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl, Pokémon Go and Pokémon Legends Arceus, among other things. But Scarlet and Violet stole the show, particularly once players realized that they would incorporate the well-received open-world elements from Arceus.
If you missed the Pokémon Presents livestream on Feb. 27, you can rewatch the entire thing on YouTube. We’ve also embedded it below:
If you don’t want to watch the whole 15-minute presentation, the most important thing to know is that Pokémon Scarlet and Violet will be the next entries in the mainline series, following up from Pokémon Sword and Shield in 2019. (Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are remakes; Arceus is a spinoff.) Once again, you’ll play as a young adventurer who sets off into a wide world, collecting and battling a variety of Pokémon for fun and profit. So far, so good.
Where Scarlet and Violet will differ from previous games, however, is that they will “[allow] you to explore freely in a richly expressed open world,” according to the official Pokémon website.
“Various towns blend seamlessly into the wilderness with no borders,” it states. “You’ll be able to see the Pokémon of this region in the skies, in the seas, in the forests, on the streets — all over! You’ll be able to experience the true joy of the Pokémon series … now in an open-world game that players of any age can enjoy.”
Pokémon games have had large world maps and nonlinear exploration ever since the very first games (Pokémon Red and Blue, way back in 1996). Sword and Shield also experimented with open-world elements in its Wild Area, Pokémon Legends Arceus was the first title in the series to embrace free exploration more substantially. Fans and critics alike enjoyed Arceus, with the open-world elements in particular garnering a lot of praise.
While we can’t say much else about Pokémon Scarlet and Violet at the moment, it does seem to be building on what fans enjoyed about Arceus, rather than sticking to an older formula out of habit. Until the games come out for Nintendo Switch in late 2022, we won’t know whether they build on Arceus’ strong points, or simply mimic them. But like the Pokémon themselves, this series has to continually evolve, and that usually entails a whole new set of abilities.
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Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.