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10 things to know before starting Pokémon Scarlet and Violet

A few things to know before stepping into Paldea

A Pokémon trainer in the Naranja Academy uniform sitting at a desk at home Image: Game Freak, The Pokémon Company/Nintendo via Polygon
Julia Lee (she/her) is a guides producer, writing guides for games like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and Genshin Impact. She helped launch the Rift Herald in 2016.

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet is the first mainline open world game in the series, bringing tons of new features and lots of the good magic from Pokémon Legends: Arceus while keeping the original formula that makes Pokémon games so fun.

As you take down the many challenges in Paldea — the tough trainers of Victory Road, the massive Pokémon of Path of Legends, and the antagonistic faction of Starfall Street — you’ll explore the gigantic world alongside your companion legendary Pokémon, Koraidon or Miraidon. There’s a lot to do in the game, but we’re here to help.

Below, we list some tips we wish we knew starting out in the game.

Lock your map so it doesn’t rotate by using the right stick

The map in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet is absolutely cluttered with icons. Press the R stick to lock the big map, though unfortunately there is no way (that we know of) to lock the minimap.

Making sure the map always has north at the top helps navigate Paldea a ton — and will also make you less dizzy.

You can’t jump, but your mount can

You capture Koraidon or Miraidon (in Scarlet and Violet respectively) very early on, and the legendary Pokémon offer a huge boon: Unlike previous mainline Pokémon games, you can actually jump up cliffs and ledges with the help of your mount.

If you see items up a cliff, try jumping up to reach them. Of course, you won’t be able to reach every ledge you see — you’ll need to feed your mount some special sandwiches (with Herba Mystica, obtained from defeating Titan Pokémon) to leap to some of the higher places.

Catch everything (duh) and claim rewards for doing so

Of course you should try to catch every new Pokémon you see, but as you do, make sure to claim rewards, like Exp. Candy or specialized Poké Balls in the Pokédex for doing so. You can do this by pressing X while on the Pokédex book screen. You access more rewards the more unique Pokémon you catch.

A menu screen showing rewards for catching Pokémon. The player got things like Poké Balls, EXP Candy, and Stardust. Image: Game Freak, The Pokémon Company/Nintendo via Polygon

Take classes at school for easy rewards

It’s easy to dash out into Paldea right away, but if you revisit your school and take some classes (by talking to the receptionist at the front desk), you’ll be rewarded. You’ll recieve EXP Candy of various sizes from completing midterms and finals in each subject.

Check the wild Pokémon’s levels when you get to a new area

Before you dive into trainer and gym battles, test the waters around you a bit. The gyms and areas do not appear in order, so you may find yourself stumbling into a level 50 area while you’re still level 20! We recommend battling a wild Pokémon to see what the level range is like, as you can just run from the battle if you’re outleveled.

Battle every trainer you see

If you’ve done the above tip and everything seems safe, absolutely talk to and battle every trainer you see. Trainers who want to battle will have speech bubbles over their heads and their Poké Balls will shine with a sparkle every now and then.

Defeating trainers is important to keep your Pokémon at the right level, but there are also characters wearing suits near Pokémon Centers who will reward you for battling all the trainers in the area. They’ll tell you how many trainers you have to beat when you talk to them.

A Pokémon trainer runs towards another trainer in a grass field Image: Game Freak, The Pokémon Company/Nintendo via Polygon

Keep your Pokémon out in Let’s Go mode

New to this game, you can throw your Pokémon out of their ball using the R button and they will auto battle against nearby Pokémon. If your Pokémon has a type-advantage, they’ll make quick work of whatever they’re auto battling against. If they don’t, they’ll take damage. They’ll even retreat to you in fear if the battle goes south.

These battles offer free EXP and crafting items! Pokémon that walk around with you will even pick up items on the floor, which makes exploring much easier.

Some Pokémon, like Pawmo (Pawmi’s evolution), need to be walked a certain number of steps in order to evolve.

Lots of tools are accessible from menus, rather than from NPCs

NPCs like the name rater and move tutor are a thing of the past. Just like in Pokémon Legends: Arceus, you can rename your Pokémon and teach them old moves all from their summary screens.

The latter is crucial, as leveling via auto battles will skip the move learning process, so you’ll need to manually open the Pokémon’s summary page to teach them the move.

Climb up those towers when you see them for more fast travel points

If you see a large stone tower with a ladder, climb it. These watchtowers serve as fast travel points that you’ll be able to fly back to.

Also, Chest Form Gimmighoul — a ghost-type Pokémon — are typically waiting at the top of these towers. You can catch or defeat these for 50 Gimmighoul Coins, which you’re going to want a lot of (to evolve Gimmighoul).

A Pokémon trainer stands in front of a huge watchtower Image: Game Freak, The Pokémon Company/Nintendo via Polygon

You can enter buildings with doormats, but not those without

All buildings with doormats in front of their doors are shops. If the building doesn’t have a doormat, it’s not a real building and it’s just decoration. (Don’t waste your time trying to enter every shop the way we did, please.)

The next level of puzzles.

Take a break from your day by playing a puzzle or two! We’ve got SpellTower, Typeshift, crosswords, and more.