Highs & Lows of The Pokémon Scarlet & Violet DLC


Pokemon Scarlet & Violet‘s expansion pass came to an official end this week with the release of an epilogue chapter for The Indigo Disk, part two of the “Hidden Treasure of Area Zero” expansion pass. While the core game was criticized for its technical flaws when it launched in November 2022, its school-based approach was novel and it sold like crazy anyway. Last fall, the first half of the DLC brought a worthy infusion of content and filled out some gaps in the experience. Now the second part is finished, and the circle of Scarlet & Violet has been completed.

The Indigo Disk picks up where The Teal Mask left off (which means yes, you’ll need to finish that questline before beginning the second). This time you earn the chance to head to your school’s sister school, Blueberry Academy—where the friends you met in the first half, Kieran and Carmine, are enrolled. Given the events of the field trip to Kitagami you took with them in part one, Kieran has entered something of a rebellious phase, and Blueberry Academy’s own Pokémon League has been shaken up by this new side of him.

Beneath the technical issues, Pokemon Scarlet & Violet‘s open world was a thrill to explore, and The Indigo Disk serves as a good reminder of that.

The Indigo Disk starts off with a good, old-fashioned Elite Four gauntlet, but goes so much further to tie up some loose threads left over from the main game. So, without further ado, let’s break down the highs and lows of the latest Pokémon DLC:

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High: The Terarium Dome

Blueberry Academy is situated in the seas of Unova (home of Pokemon‘s fifth generation, a fact which totally won’t be relevant this fall, I bet), so you might not expect it to be a very exciting geographical location. However, the school actually boasts a sheerly massive underwater terrarium, the Terarium Dome—charmingly misspelled because of the Terastal phenomenon at the heart of Pokémon Scarlet & Violet.

This engineering marvel hosts four distinct biomes—Savanna, Coastal, Canyon, and Polar—with simulated day/night cycles and weather patterns, and thus hosts a wide variety of returning Pokémon that were missing from Generation IX thus far. Between the Terarium and the Legendary hunting sidequests that unlock later, the grand total of Pokémon attainable in Scarlet & Violet post-The Indigo Disk is over 700, or about 70% of all species released to-date.

The Terarium itself is a vast and interesting new frontier to explore, even if you arrive after beating the main game and restoring your legendary companion’s exploration abilities (though it may be worth hopping off their back and exploring the old fashioned way instead, sometimes). Beneath the technical issues, Pokemon Scarlet & Violet‘s open world was a thrill to explore, and The Indigo Disk serves as a good reminder of that. There were plenty of neat little nooks to find, or geographical features to explore. What’s more, outposts are scattered around, including a central hub, so you can easily restore your team or restock (and faster than usual, thanks to “self-serve” healing stations).

In a way, The Indigo Disk offers a “greatest hits” area to explore, highlighting the best tricks that the dev team learned from the rest of the game. It’s a larger and more stimulating area than The Teal Mask‘s island, and a great way to round out the Scarlet & Violet experience.

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Low: The Battle Point Economy

As great as the Terarium may be, you can’t simply walk in and start collecting all the species that returned in The Indigo Disk; there’s some legwork required in order to unlock the starter species, in the form of collecting Battle Points. And collecting Battle Points means busy work.

Battle Points (BP) are a currency awarded via Blueberry Academy’s League Club, typically by completing “Blueberry Quests.” Within the academy and Terarium, players are given up to three of these quests at a time, typically standard tasks like “catch [type) Pokémon,” “beat 10 wild Pokémon with Auto Battle,” or “craft a TM.” Complete 10 of these basic, blue-level quests and receive a more lucrative red-level quest, like “hatch an egg,” “make a [flavour] sandwich,” or “win a Tera Raid battle.” There are also gold-level, multiplayer exclusive quests, should you happen to be playing with friends.

Red level quests give 20-40 BP each, reds give 100-200, and golds award 300-600. Upgrading the “biodiversity” of a biome (otherwise known as unlocking the starter species) requires 3000 BP for each biome. The result, unless you have a friend or two to help ease the burden, is a pretty long grind.

BP can also be spent to unlock other features in The Indigo Disk, like customizing your Pokéball-throwing technique (10BP), customizing the League’s hangout room, upgrading the Rotom Phone camera, or the lucrative Item Printer. These rewards (aside from the potential gamebreaking implications of the Item Printer) are somewhat limited, however, and farming the BP required to do it all is a bit of a slog. It’s like the foundation was laid for a brilliant feature, but Game Freak gave up on building the house after only putting up a couple walls.

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High: New Outfits

One of Pokemon Scarlet & Violet‘s biggest sins is the huge step back in player customization (a more heinous crime than any amount of graphical pop-in; I will die on this hill). Look, I get it, the whole game’s schtick is that you’re a student at an academy and you have to wear a uniform, but the uniforms are fairly hideous and the things you can customize don’t really soften the blow. It was a huge leap backward after Sword & Shield‘s comparatively awesome offerings.

Like The Teal Mask, The Indigo Disk adds new style options via another Style Card item, expanding the wares at garment shops all over Paldea. But the real mercy in this department is the new batch of Blueberry Academy uniforms.

They may stray a little closer to the sort of sterile aesthetic you might find in science fiction, but after the excessive bombastic look of the base game’s outfits, I’ll take what The Indigo Disk is offering here, even if it’s a little sailor tie.

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High: A Grand Finale For Scarlet & Violet…

While I didn’t love the way The Teal Mask forced the player’s hand in how to handle Kieran, I loved how it paid off in The Indigo Disk. Kieran has grown into one of the more capable rivals in the series’ recent history, right up there with Nemona and Leon. For all its flaws, Pokemon Scarlet & Violet has done a good job of infusing some personal stakes into the story—an area where the series has often floundered.

(Case in point: try bringing out Ogerpon when you eventually fight Kieran again, or in other pivotal battles later in the story.)

Blueberry Academy’s Elite Four are a solid challenge in themselves, complete with trials to complete before you can actually fight them—just like the base game’s gyms. Unless you already trained your dream team up to level 100, The Indigo Disk‘s victory lap is a worthwhile gauntlet; if the DLC had stopped here, with the Terarium, this circuit, and the ensuing showdown with the new legendary, Terapagos, I’d have been content.

Unfortunately, as fulfilling as The Indigo Disk‘s revelations and closures were, it did start to feel like this more malicious sort of content.

But instead, The Indigo Disk makes good on the “Hidden Treasure of Area Zero” name by taking you home to Paldea with Carmine and Kieran. The final act harkens back to Scarlet & Violet‘s intense conclusion, bringing closure to the main story and the mystery behind the Terastal Phenomenon. The epilogue puts a final cherry on top of it all, as well.

Combined, The Indigo Disk has helped propel Scarlet & Violet to the upper echelon of Pokémon storylines, in my book.

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Low: …that Comes Separately

All that being said, I have mixed feelings about how this grand finale has been delivered. Expansion passes are pretty standard practice for Pokémon and the larger industry by this point; Sword & Shield followed a similar paradigm, with a substantial two-part DLC and a bit of delayed closure for the main story. However, The Indigo Disk‘s conclusion feels more essential to the Scarlet & Violet campaign than The Crown Tundra did for Sword & Shield.

Where I start objecting to postgame DLC is where it starts to feel like something was removed from the main game and deliberately withheld with the intent to charge players for it separately at a later date. Unfortunately, as fulfilling as The Indigo Disk‘s revelations and closures were, it did start to feel like this more malicious sort of content. The current DLC model, at least for Pokémon Scarlet & Violet, is treading closer to that more nefarious, exploitative side.

Pokémon games used to come with healthy postgame adventures, like the thrilling Delta Episode for Alpha Sapphire & Omega Ruby, or even the journey to Kanto after conquering Johto’s League in Gold & Silver/HeartGold & SoulSilver. If not that, there would be a third game that unified the two other games of the generation, as Platinum did for Diamond & Pearl; you’d potentially have to buy another cartridge, but it was made worth your while.

I can’t help but think things would’ve worked out better for the series’ business and fans if we’d seen Pokémon Legends: Arceus as the holiday 2022 release, and Pokémon Scarlet & Violet released in November 2023 instead, complete with “The Hidden Treasure of Area Zero” as postgame content. It would’ve allowed time to iron out the kinks in the game’s overall performance before launching (and Legends could have benefitted from a little more polish, to boot). Imagine the thrill if you’d booted up this generation for the first time, finished the sprawling, open-ended main game, and then found two more substantial areas waiting after the credits rolled?

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Trepidations about the release model and missed potential aside, I truly think that the expansion pass is a must-play for anyone who enjoyed Pokémon Scarlet & Violet for what it was, thanks in no small part to what The Indigo Disk brings to the table. Especially now that the game has been packaged with the DLC on the physical cartridge (or, at least, the first part of it; I’m baffled that Nintendo didn’t wait until all the DLC was out to print those carts), taking a semester abroad at Blueberry Academy should be worthwhile for any Paldean trainer.



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