Pokémon Scarlet and Violet vs Legends: Arceus

When Pokémon Legends: Arceus came out, fans of Nintendo’s legendary franchise knew it was going to change everything.

Despite being a spin-off, the game did a lot for the franchise and mainly made players excited about how new and exciting mechanics could transfer over to the mainline games. 

11 months later, we are finally introduced to the next mainline games, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. 

Did we get the best of both worlds? Did Arceus’ mechanics transfer over to Scarlet and Violet?

This article will discuss Pokémon Scarlet and Violet vs. Legends: Arceus and compare the two.

Performance

Performance is something constantly mentioned when it comes to Pokémon games on the Switch.

We know Legends: Arceus had its problems. Did Scarlet and Violet improve on that? 

It would be unfair not to acknowledge that both games have been released on the Nintendo Switch. Although popular, the Switch is far from the most powerful console on the market. 

It’s also important to keep in mind that both Legends and Scarlet and Violet are somewhat titles. 

However, that’s only true when you consider that both games were made for the Switch and that Game Freaks is not a studio known for groundbreaking innovations. 

The open-world aspect of Legends Arceus made for some low frame rates and sometimes choppy gameplay. 

On top of that, it was very noticeable that the game was very bad at rendering things at a distance. Not even a significant distance, though. Things would disappear or pop up frequently. 

Since it was very noticeable, it was very distracting and even annoying sometimes.  

You’d often be traveling through an area, thinking it was an open space, and suddenly, a bunch of Pokémon and trees would spawn for you to deal with. 

Not only did this mean that you couldn’t look for Pokémon or places from afar, but it also made the game look bland at times. 

Most of the time, you’d be staring into an abyss of generic terrain, which didn’t give the game a very immersive feel at all. 

Legends had some very intricate map designs and generally looked great. Unfortunately, since the terrain and details would disappear beyond ten steps, players would be staring at boring scenarios most of the time. 

So, when Scarlet and Violet dropped, we were all desperate to know whether these issues had been addressed. 

Although I wish I could say Scarlet & Violet are better games with better optimization and fewer rendering issues, it just isn’t the case. At times, I feel like the rendering distance has improved, but the problems are generally still there. 

Although I don’t think this is excusable, it is also not surprising. After all, Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet are much larger games than Legends: Arceus.

In the spin-off, you had 5 main zones that were unlockable as you progressed through the game. The zones were pretty big and certainly made the game feel like an open world, but you were still limited.

In Scarlet and Violet, you’re free to explore the entire world without having to load in different zones. So, understandably, this would always be harder to run for the Switch than Legends.

Despite the reasoning for it, unfortunately, the game’s performance is shockingly bad. You’ll experience frequent stuttering and rendering issues. 

These are terrible issues because they make the game feel much less immersive and generally just a lot slower. 

Although there are ways to help fix Pokémon Scarlet & Violet’s frame rate, I can’t say the solution is either perfect or permanent.

I have Violet downloaded rather than on a cartridge. My Switch is always docked, and I still experience slowdowns and bad frame rates. 

To be clear, if you don’t play with a docked Switch, you will notice the performance issues more frequently.

Overall, I’d have to say that Scarlet and Violet do not perform better than Legends: Arceus, which is disappointing. Luckily, it doesn’t mean the game isn’t better in other areas.

Gameplay Mechanics

The gameplay mechanics were the most significant changes we saw from Legends: Arceus when compared to previous games.

The game really excelled in progressing Pokémon past its one-dimensional gameplay. Introducing the ability to move much more freely with your character gave the game a fluid feeling when you were running around. 

It didn’t necessarily add much, but you felt much more in control. Probably because you get to also roll and dodge in this game.

This was a feature introduced predominantly to fight the noble Pokémon, which you had to do yourself without the help of your Pokémon for the most part. 

Still, I feel it really helped connect you to your character, as it felt like you had more freedom. Unfortunately, this has regressed in Scarlet and Violet as the movement mechanics have gone back to just being able to run and duck.

This is fine, though. There’s no need for dodging and rolling in Scarlet & Violet, but it does make the game feel a bit more basic.

As for other features like the battling and catching mechanics, Legends had an incredibly refreshing take on how we play the game. 

There are many different Poké Balls that behave uniquely in Legends: Aceus. That’s an aspect that makes Legends stand out among other games of the franchise.

The ability to catch Pokémon without even entering a battle made life for completionists a lot more streamlined and satisfying. It also made catching Pokémon significantly more enjoyable.

On top of that, you could move around during battles to see it from all different angles. It may seem like a purely aesthetic mechanic, but it actually had other uses.

For instance, it allowed you to run away from any encounter simply by moving away from the location. Sadly, you can’t do that in Scarlet & Violet, which is a bummer. 

Overall I’d say that Scarlet and Violet also regressed in terms of the battling mechanics, but it’s not all negative. 

The introduction of Agile and Strong Style moves in Legends was unnecessary and didn’t make much difference when playing.

Also, it was super annoying when the other Pokémon would use an agile move and attack you twice in a row — or more.

I’m glad they got rid of that. The more traditional battling mechanics work better, especially in a main Pokémon game, so Scarlet and Violet take the win on that one. 

In terms of overall gameplay mechanics, though, Legends felt a bit more fun to play. There were multiple ways to engage with wild Pokémon, making it feel like you were roaming around looking for them rather than walking up to them and initiating a battle. 

A lot of the mechanics stayed the same for Scarlet and Violet, but it did regress a little bit. At least they added a multiplayer option where you can roam around with up to 4 people.

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet also introduced the Terastal Phenomenon, a new temporary transformation. Terastalized Pokémon often make players join forces to fight in raids.

This genuinely fantastic idea makes Scarlet and Violet more of a social game while also making it easier to catch version-exclusive Pokemon.

And for that reason, I believe that Arceus and Scarlet and Violet both have amazing gameplay mechanics, but they are suited to each specific game. 

I wouldn’t say Gen 9 made the gameplay worse. Game Freak tailored it to make Scarlet & Violet feel more like mainline games, which worked pretty well.

Storyline

Now, here’s where things get more interesting – the storyline of each game. 

In Legends: Arceus, you had a reasonably engaging story that caused you to complete research on every Pokémon in the game to earn the trust of the clan that you were a part of. 

While you were doing that, 5 different Noble Pokemon would become enraged due to unknown circumstances. For some reason, you were also entrusted to quell them and restore peace to all 5 regions in the game. 

In all honesty, this was fun for a bit, but it very much became like a side quest. There was a story ongoing around this involving characters, but it felt a bit pieced together rather than flowing throughout. 

Most of my time on the game was spent hunting down rare Pokémon and catching them, which was really refreshing to do in a Pokémon game. 

Usually, I’d just focus on finding a few good enough Pokémon to beat the game and move on to something else. For that reason, completing the Pokedex was never a thing to me until Legends: Arceus forced me to do it. 

That said, since that game also had fun mechanics to catch Pokémon, the whole process ended up being quite fun.

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, on the other hand, really excels in terms of its narrative. 

Right from the start, you actually have three different storylines to choose from. 

You can defeat the 8 gyms and elite four in a more traditional run-through. You can defeat Team Star, the evil group of Gen 9. Finally, you can find Mystical herbs around Paldea by defeating Tera Pokemon.

All three offer a unique way of playing and will keep you engaged. It’s really cool to have the more traditional story available alongside two others, as you’ll never be short of things to do throughout your time playing. 

It feels like the main priority is advancing in the story. At the same time, you have this massive sandbox region to explore. 

Being able to dip in and out of the story also helps with the pacing of the game, as you can either blitz through it all or take some time to explore each area between tasks, which is what I like to do. 

Pokémon Violet and Scarlet is the perfect blend of Legends Arceus’ exploration and the mainline story aspect.

Conclusion

So that brings us to a conclusion. Which game is better, Legends Arceus or Pokémon Scarlet and Violet? 

When it comes down to it, it really depends on what you prefer, whether it’s battling or exploring.

I honestly think that, although both are Pokémon games, they focus on very different aspects and, therefore, are not in direct competition.

Honestly, I spend much more time in Legends: Arceus figuring out how to catch Pokémon. Using special Pokéballs and ensuring my party was made purely of alphas was genuinely entertaining.

I also had a lot of fun riding Midaidon, auto-battling, and finding out about paradox Pokémon.

The performance issues are annoying, but both games are still very much playable.