Pokemon games have come a long way since the release of Pokemon Red and Green, and the franchise is moving forward with new projects for both side games and mainline titles. Pokemon Scarlet and Violet were announced around a month ago, and ever since there have been many comments and ideas from the community about what the Generation 9 games should look like or which features should or shouldn't be included. Of course, one of the more talked about features is the catching system from Pokemon Legends: Arceus, which many fans want to see in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet to a certain degree, especially because the games are fully open-world.
Another popular request is for Pokemon Scarlet and Violet to include difficulty settings, something that was rumored for Pokemon Legends: Arceus and done only once in the lifespan of the franchise, in Pokemon Black and White 2. The purpose of difficulty settings in new Pokemon games would be to bridge the gap between the various generations that play the titles, making them simultaneously more accessible and more challenging, based on the players' selection. Regrettably, this was attempted in the wrong way in Pokemon Black and White 2 by gating difficulty settings after beating the base game, but Pokemon Scarlet and Violet can and should do better.
Pokemon Scarlet and Violet Should Improve on Black, White 2's Difficulty
There's a common belief that Pokemon games are too easy and forgiving for adults, making the experience less enjoyable because one can simply steamroll through the game in a day or two. However, Pokemon Legends: Arceus proved that there can be challenging Pokemon games to a degree, even for veterans of the series. The experience is still subjective, though, and not everyone who played Pokemon Legends: Arceus felt that the game was too hard (or even a bit hard) to begin with. However, increasing the difficulty across the board may not be the best path forward, as the series is still mainly geared toward children with its appeal.
As such, one of the accessibility options that could really improve the experience for everyone would be to include difficulty settings in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, this time making this choice available from the get-go. This could work in a very similar way to what Pokemon Black 2 and White 2 attempted, with Easy Mode lowering the level of all the trainers' Pokemon and their AI and Challenge Mode increasing both Pokemon levels and AI while also adding an extra Pokemon to tough trainer battles.
This addition would make Pokemon Scarlet and Violet the perfect games to play for every gamer that's interested in Pokemon, regardless of their experience with the series and other video games in general. In fact, Pokemon Legends: Arceus showed that a more difficult game that also challenges players to keep an eye on resources may be what the veterans have been asking for, but not necessarily what's best to introduce someone to the series. Vice versa, having a game where expert players can complete the main story and get their favorite Pokemon in a weekend may not be the way to go for an open-world game.
Pokemon Black and White 2 had a good formula for difficulty settings, but the main issue was that players either had to complete the game to access them or have a friend send the modes via Unova Link to them, which would be tied to that specific save. Pokemon Scarlet and Violet could learn from this and instead offer either a one-time difficulty setting selection upon starting a new game or, even better, a difficulty selection screen available at all times. Ultimately, Pokemon games are among the best video games to reduce the gap between generations by bringing everyone together, and having difficulty settings could help families get into the same game without having to sacrifice parts of the experience.
Pokemon Scarlet and Violet are scheduled for release in 2022 on Nintendo Switch.