While Pokemon Legends: Arceus dipped its toes into what an open-world Pokemon game could be, Pokemon Scarlet and Violet fully embrace it. This new approach to the tried-and-true Pokemon formula reinvigorates the mainline series and delivers one of the most challenging and rewarding Pokemon adventures to date. Where they really shine, however, is in non-linear progression. Scarlet and Violet make some subtle efforts to guide you to specific locations, but ultimately, how you forge your own path through the vibrant new region of Paldea is what makes it so memorable.
Scarlet and Violet start off like most mainline Pokemon games: You wake up at home, meet your rival, pick one of three starters, and before long you’re exploring the world and catching a wide range of monsters. While the tutorial might still feel a bit overbearing for longtime fans, it moves at a brisk pace. Before long, Nemona, your peppy, battle-hungry rival, turns you loose, and you’re free to explore a hefty chunk of the map, battle trainers at your discretion, and catch wild Pokemon. It does slow down a bit as it introduces characters and the three main questlines, but soon after that, you are free to explore Paldea in its entirety.