Massively on the Go: How Pokemon GO players can prepare for Pokemon Scarlet and Violet

    
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I know what you may be thinking: Pokemon GO preparing for Pokemon Scarlet and Violet this early? I mean, will the game even still be out? Well, we’ll probably get a tease soon at the very least, historically speaking, plus Niantic officially announced starter clothing from the game going in on launch day. But those two things seem small, while full release would be far, right?

Well, it took roughly five years between our coverage of Gen 7’s possible introduction into the game and the final (if somewhat disappointing) release, but it was only about two years between Sword and Shield’s release and the introduction of its mascot legendaries. The atrocious state of Niantic does make Peridot seem as if it’s either getting polish so it can replace POGO or will fail to launch like so many other Niantic titles, but the slow launch and zero buzz has me optimistic for POGO’s future, so let’s prep. Be warned, though, as this article will contain pokedex spoilers, so those of you trying to be surprised about what you find in the console games should circle come back to this post later. Those who want only minor spoilers, I’ll leave you a little summary:

The prep I can most easily recommend is to collect Mankey, Dunsparce, Wooper, Girafarig, and Pawniard candy, at least to evolve the new ‘mon without too much fear of being candy poor. Of those with value, I’d bank more on the Mankey family having value, mostly in gyms and PvP, while the Wooper family may have some PvP use.

For those of you who aren’t too worried about bigger spoilers, I’ve got some better details and analysis below.

Mo’ ‘mon, ‘mo (candy) problems

The first thing to note is that while the new region does have some regional variants, it also has some pokemon that may look like variants but aren’t. Think convergent evolution, particularly marsupials. Just like how the sugar glider looks like a squirrel but isn’t, The Pokemon Company has already said pokemon like Wiglet looks like Diglet but isn’t one. It’s “a completely different species of Pokémon.” That means your stockpile of Diglet candy most likely isn’t going to help you evolve Wiglets whenever they make it into the game.

It’s also something that’s been confirmed internally, as dataminers found data classifications that confirmed Paradox Pokemon (a kind of legendary version exclusive) are in the No Eggs group, which most likely cuts them off just like the convergent evolution ‘mon. I think breeding in POGO is something none of us really expects, but the takeaway here would also be that we can’t evolve, say, Phanpy into one of the Paradox forms. Naturally, Niantic could get the blessing of The Pokemon Company to do something, but for now, we’re going to assume that the only meaningful candy to stockpile would be for pokemon that get regional forms in the new games. These are the following families you may want to nab extra candy for:

It’s a short list, but it does include a regional (Tauros) and a 12k egg exclusive at the moment (Pawniard). Either one may be seeing release early in my mind, though Tauros could even end up being another regional, as it gets three new variants. Not evolutions, not forms, just variants.

A few good ‘mon to keep your eyes on

Naturally, a Redditor – kdrshv – has already put together a spreadsheet on how the new pokemon’s stats will be converted to POGO. While it’ll be tough to go through all the pokemon and their potential, there are a few to look at based on their overall stats, typing, and other stand-out features. We’ll also be referring to a pre-release spreadsheet put together by various fans and leakers that helps give us an idea of what these pokemon may have in store, and Gamepress now has a page on the possible moves the new gen ‘mon may have based on what’s currently available in POGO.

To note, a lot has changed in terms of mechanics (such as healing abilities having their Power Points cut in half and Toxic being taken away from many pokemon), so this section and possibly even the Gamepress page need to be taken with a grain of salt. I’m also going to ignore the legendaries, as those are usually far more difficult to tackle, especially this early in the game. I do, however, want to focus on a few pokemon current POGO trainers may actually be able to prepare for – and why they should or shouldn’t.

First is Gimmighoul for no reason beyond knowing that there’s a specific link between it and POGO. As players have gotten coins in-game already that serve no immediate purpose, and because Gimmighoul requires coins to evolve, this may be a Melmetal situation, in that perhaps POGO players are needed for console players to access the final form of the wandering variant.

Its final form is a Ghost/Steel type that may be easier to implement than Blade Forme Aegislash. Both have the same typing, but Aegislash’s form is combat-dependent, and also quite glassy, while grown-up Gimmi boasts an estimated 252 attack, 190 defense, and 202 hp. That spread is just a little less than Terrakion’s, which is a very healthy sign. It may even be somewhat useful as a gym defender, as it resists Fighting types, most of the best defenders’ weakness.

Speaking of gyms, Dondozo won’t be taking Blissey or probably Chansey’s crown for Queen Defenders, but being a bulky water type will give it a place among the defenders. It has a Snorlax-like stat spread, estimated at 176 attack, 178 defense, and 312 hp. Sadly, there’s no way to really prepare for this beyond waiting to see what moves it gets and when it’s released.

There’s also fellow Water-type, Palafin, but it’s a long shot. Palafin is a unique, multiplayer-required evolution. It also has an ability that gives it a “Hero Forme” with stats like a miniature Kyogre, standing at an estimated 293 attack, 179 defense, and 205 hp, after the 9% stat nerf that tends to effects legendary pokemon. That’s more attack than the whale god, same hp, but at the cost of a chunk of defense. That being said, it could be one of the highest CP non-legendaries, which means you might have to see it in gyms. Forms are a bit weird in POGO and we’re missing quite a few from pokemon that’ve been out for awhile, so maybe we’ll be safe, or maybe Niantic would just give it a terrible moveset to prevent players from preparing some electric gym attackers.

You can, however, prepare for Primeape’s evolution, Annihilape. It’s a unique Fighting/Ghost type, 220 attack, 178 defense, and 242 hp. That’s a slightly lower attack stat than Machamp with added bulk, but not quite as bulky as Hariyama, plus it learns Counter, and depending on the moveset, it may have a place in PvP and in gym defense thanks to its resistance to Fighting. The problem, sadly, is that, like the evolved Gimmighoul, it’s vulnerable to Dark-type attacks, which popular attacker Machamp has access to.

But that’s just for gym attacking and its fighting side. Via TMs, it can learn both Shadow Claw and Shadowball, plus naturally learns Shadow Punch, meaning it could be a kind of Ghost Hariyama as well as a fighting one. It probably won’t be replacing anyone’s raid pokemon unless one of its new moves ends up being something crazy, but the unique typing and bulk may give it some PvP use.

Unless it gets a very unique move, Girafrig’s evolution, Farigiraf, will most likely be limited to PvP use, as any Psychic has to deal with the fact that Mewtwo exists, and sadly our giraffe friend is lacking a lot of attack, plus overall stats from what we’ve seen so far. It’s cute, but don’t expect much from it yet.

There’s also Pawniard’s new final evolution, Kingambit. As cool as the typing (Dark/Steel) is, it’s quad weak to Fighting, and I’m always leery of using quad weak ‘mon unless they can do something very interesting, like Flame Charge/Brave Bird Talonflame in PvP. Pawniard’s new final form is actually rather beefy, reaching 4086 CP at level 50 with perfect stats. It comes with an estimated 238 attack, 203 defense, and 225 hp, like a more balanced Tyranitar (which is also quad-weak to Fighting).

It does naturally learn Nightslash for potential attack buffs in PvP, and Rock Tomb to Debuff attack in PvP as well, so it could be given some use depending on the moveset it receives. The problem, I feel, is that Tyranitar doesn’t do so well, despite not having a terrible kit to work with. The quad-fighting resistance with no strong way to fight back is a big reason ‘Tar is limited, and as someone who always brings fighting types moves to PvP, I can tell you that I love nothing more than seeing those ‘mon moved out to be sacrificed. Admittedly, via TMs, Kingambit can learn Zen Headbutt and Aerial Ace, but having both would mean sacrificing either a Dark-STAB attack or a Steel-STAB attack. And in PvE, well, unless Niantic starts releasing more Steel moves, Metagross isn’t even sweating this new guy.

Ignoring Dunsparce (not just because Dudunsparce is a troll evolution, but because there’s just too many moves that could help a bulky ‘mon like it), that leaves the new Wooper evolution, Clodsire. It’s certainly not going to be a raider, with top CP capping at 2207 at level 50, with only 127 attack, 151 defense, and 277 hp, but it could be a Great Leage Hero. Its got the same HP as Vaporeon and only 10 defense less than Vaps too, but with lower attack, giving it potential bulk for Great League. Fairy-types have ruled Great League for a while now, and while Poison in particular has been helping to curb that, there are some other interesting Fairies on the way too. Wooper’s family should help keep them in line. The Nido family has the same Ground/Poison typing, but it’ll come down to movesets to see how strong of a pick Clodsire will be.

Everything can change

For everything we can plot, there’s still one major feature that could blow up the current meta, in all aspects of the game: terrestrialization. In short, it changes a Pokemon’s type completely. Even dual types become a monotype that can be totally different. You can finally have a Dragon-type Mega Gyarados, unleash Pheromosa from its awful Fighting-sub type to unlock its Bug-Battling prowess, or let Melmetal be the Electric-type it always seems to pretend to be.

I’m not great at breaking down simulation results, but even a nub like me can see how changing a pokemon’s type can drastically change its performance. Slaking as a Fairy type, Mega Gengar as a pure ghost type, Blissey as a Psychic gym Defender… terrestrialization can potentially really shake up the game’s PvP scene, raid options, and even gyms, the most stagnated part of the game.

The problem, of course, is implementation. For example, Niantic changed quite a bit concerning Mega Evolution, and it was problematic at the start and has become quite bloated as a feature few people actually use. So, for example, if terrestrialization were to be very player friendly and could be activated for, say, four hours a day without payment or any power-loan system akin to Mega Energy (which must be raided for or earned via walking your buddy), Niantic would need to figure out how that plays with Mega Pokemon. Does the catch candy/xp bonus apply to the current form, or the terastal form? What about the in-combat buffs? Can it be applied to gym defenders, and if so, when? Don’t forget that Niantic may still have Dynamaxing and (more likely) Gigantamaxing before this, so that’s possibly two other forms that may or may not overlap, assuming Niantic even lets one pokemon share multiple forms. Yes, that could mean you need one good Charizard for each Mega Evolution, plus one that can Gigantamax, and then one to terrestrialize. Ever one to create storage problems, I fear to say that preventing one pokemon from having multiple forms could very much be what Niantic ends up doing, but I would love to be proven wrong.

It’s not just the mechanics that would be the problem; it’s also how pokemon gain a terastal form. My guess is that because Niantic seems to rely on drip content that limits player creativity means that, unlike the new games, POGO players would be limited to only specific pokemon getting specific terrestrializations, such as raids that reward terrestrialized Charizard with a Dragon typing. This would extend the game’s lifespan but, of course, at the cost of players banging their heads against the wall, as Niantic isn’t known for understanding balance.

Instead, a play-centric move would be to make Tera Shards something like Rare Candy, having players slowly earn them but preferably not through a paid source like raids. Perhaps as a daily-spin reward, as it would allow daily players an advantage without pushing players too hard. It would also encourage people to stick with the game, as even casuals could potentially just ship off a pokemon with a new tera-type to the main games, depending on how Pokemon HOME handles that in 2023.

In fact, if Niantic really wants to go with Plan A first, the Tera Shard path could occur later down the line once Niantic catches up to the main games. After all, at this point, new generations are coming out every three years, and Niantic tends to add a new generation about once every eleven months. As POGO is on Gen 7 (kind of) and Scarlet and Violet are Gen 9, Niantic is closing in and will need a plan to address that issue soon.

Massively OP’s Andrew Ross is an admitted Pokemon geek and expert ARG-watcher. Nobody knows Niantic and Nintendo like he does! His Massively on the Go column covers Pokemon Go as well as other mobile MMOs and augmented reality titles!
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