Pokémon Scarlet and Violet are the franchise’s most sprawling games yet, overflowing with Pokémon new and old, with one of the series’ best stories. But the two Nintendo Switch games struggle to keep up with that massive world, and the performance suffers from such size and scope.
Ahead of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet’s Nov. 18 launch, three Polygon writers received early access to the games, and each of us experienced a range of performance issues across 20-40 hours — largely visual issues like clipping through the world, and invisible Pokémon in battles. But there are also issues that stunted performance, like rough, almost stop motion-like frame rates and infrequent crashing at key moments.
The good news is that these performance issues haven’t really impacted the overall experience for me. The majority of the issues were visual, outside of these aforementioned crashes.
The frame rate issues, which extend to Pokémon and human characters, happen throughout the game’s open world, signaling that the Nintendo Switch, perhaps, can’t keep up with the Paldea region’s size. You can see some of this in action in the videos below, which also show people and Pokémon popping in as the player gets close. In the wild, this means colliding with Pokémon that you didn’t see while riding your Miraidon or Koraidon. It’s less of a problem, gameplay wise, in cities and towns.
There’s also slowdown in background frame rates throughout the game, once again giving it a bit of a stop-motion look in the distance. This is particularly notable with people walking or windmills spinning, and in particular cases where several Pokémon follow your character around. In short, these frame rate slowdowns feel situational — sometimes everything looked and worked totally fine, and I went some periods without having major problems.
Elsewhere in cities and towns, clothing inventories lag when showing previews of what you’re looking to buy. In my game, there are some clothing items that don’t load at all, meaning I can’t preview many clothing items before I buy them.
You can also expect Pokémon and other characters to clip through the world, in both regular battles and Tera Raid Battles. Sometimes, I found that Pokémon are completely missing, like I’m battling something invisible.
The Pokémon Company has issued a 1.01 update, and it’s unclear if there will be another before Pokémon Scarlet and Violet’s Nov. 18 launch — or if these issues will impact multiplayer. Like I said earlier, these performance issues were largely visual and they haven’t sullied the gameplay experience for me; I feel continuously in awe of the world and the stories that are being told. Even with the visual impact of the game’s size, I find the game compelling enough that it’s easy to overlook the technical problems. Either way, here’s hoping there’s another patch addressing some of these snags.