As unintentionally glitchy as Pokémon Scarlet and Violet steadily felt at liberate, their advent of a huge, in level of truth open international felt like a primary step forward for the core franchise, and the promise of DLC made it seem as although Game Freak would in all probability have a solid plan to conform the titles even further. Unfortunately, The Teal Mask — the main 1/2 of of Scarlet and Violet’s presented DLC drops — doesn’t ship any of the sorely sought after bug fixes that players had been begging for given that video video games debuted earlier this 12 months.

Then again as lacking as The Teal Mask is in the best way wherein of fancy new choices and primary graphical updates, it supplies a solid new chapter to this period’s story and — strangely — demonstrates how Scarlet and Violet could have the convenience of a bit further linearity at some point.

Despite the fact that some of The Teal Mask’s smaller additions after all finally end up dressed in over into Paldea, the DLC transports players to the new Kitikami space as section of a cultural exchange-focused college go back and forth. Relatively than sending you off to Kitikami with the friends you make inside the core sport, The Teal Mask puts an emphasis on meeting new other folks and pokémon in Mossui The town merely in time for the local Pageant of Mask.

Collectively, the three utterly forgettable Paldean classmates who arrive in Kitakami with you could be about as eye-catching as Scarlet and Violet’s draw distance is impressive (which is to say: by no means). Then again what your fellow Naranja / Uva Academy students lack in personality, The Teal Mask more than makes up for with new characters like Carmine and Kieran, a pair of Kitikamian sibling trainers from sister / rival college Blueberry Academy, and their instructor Briar.

Kitikami — a reasonably incorporated and rural expanse whose verdant fields and orchards are steadily difficult to understand from afar as a result of of the game’s draw-distance issues — is slightly small compared to Paldea. Then again that physically smallness lends itself to a distinct sense of middle of consideration as The Teal Mask’s story kicks in, and you get started studying about Kitakami’s traditions, its local fauna, and the legendary origins of the mask festival you’re invited to participate in.

Relatively similar to Scarlet and Violet’s core stories throughout which you become buddies with other students and their entangled dramas, The Teal Mask gives you free rein to find Kitakami as you hunt for treasures. In this case, those treasures are the way to a quite simple mystery and a variety of wild pokémon coming back from previous generations like Milotic and Changelure. Then again whilst the Paldean stories put further emphasis on crisscrossing the world to complete battles and play a techniques too awkward mini-games, The Teal Mask’s unfolds in a a lot extra linear sort that if truth be told after all finally ends up making Kitikami in point of fact really feel like a further memorable place.

Even supposing the Paldean wilderness is teeming with monsters, one of Scarlet and Violet’s biggest persistent issues is how empty the world itself feels, every as a consequence of of how a lot of its towns are designed and as a consequence of of how they bop from one concurrent plot line to the next.

Scarlet and Violet giving players the ability to dip in and out of storylines and take on gymnasium leaders in (maximum often) regardless of order they wanted were bold changes to the antique device that certainly felt like steps in a interesting course. The ones steps moreover steadily made it arduous to understand Paldea as a completely fleshed-out assortment of cities, and one of one of the crucial unexpectedly pleasant problems about The Teal Mask is how strongly it establishes Kitakami as its private distinct area that exists within the larger international.

Collaborating in by way of The Teal Mask, I stored coming once more to the concept that that, while I’d in all probability now not pass so far as to call Kitikami a full-on “space” like Hisui or Galar and its Isle of Armor, it felt a lot like what I wanted for Scarlet and Violet’s individual cities — every in words of distinct design and cultural distinctiveness.

Teal’s the word, alternatively Kitakami’s a pointedly green filled with grass-type living candy apple monstrosities, and festival goers dressed in deep jade jinbei and masks evocative of some of The Teal Mask’s new legendary pokémon. Even supposing you’re most simple experiencing Kitikami during one explicit season, it’s a vibrant one who makes it in point of fact really feel love it has some precise history to it that isn’t as threadbare as Paldea’s. And the DLC makes sure that a solid bite of that Kitikamian custom is encouraged upon you as you dig into its story.

Moderately considerably, in conjunction with a slew of new pokémon to catch, The Teal Mask moreover introduces a variety of new garments alternatives, hairstyles, and emotes that bump the video video games’ instructor customization chance up… a bit. Similar to how Paldea’s towns have a tendency to in point of fact really feel like places that weren’t designed with living other folks in ideas, Scarlet and Violet’s customization choices are however woefully lacking whilst you read about your instructor to a couple of the game’s further detailed monster models. Tiny UI fixes identical to the UI bug that left a in point of fact intensive lag while you were scrolling storage boxes are welcome additions, as is the best way wherein you can merely return and forth between Kitakami and Paldea out of your Rotom Phone by means of approach of switching maps.

The Rotom Phone itself receives a small exchange that lets you are compatible the theme of its UI to the look of its physically case (and there is a new handful of those as well). Then again the Rotom Phone receives its biggest toughen by means of approach of way of the new Roto-Stick, a not unusual selfie stick that lets you take pictures at a bunch of new angles that already must had been imaginable given that the phone can canonically fly because it’s possessed by means of approach of a ghost.

While the Rotom Phone’s improved photo-snapping purposes however go away a lot to be desired, The Teal Mask’s camera-centric mini-game is one of the DLC’s highlights, even though it plays like a half-baked New Pokémon SnapThe Teal Mask’s connecting Scarlet and Violet to Pokémon Arceus is one of its most intriguing — if small — sides, alternatively one of the crucial exciting issue regarding the DLC as a complete is the best way wherein its plot gestures in opposition to some promising problems regarding the video video games’ longer term.

Together with laying the groundwork for The Hidden Treasure of House 0’s 2d 1/2 of, The Indigo Disk, The Teal Mask moreover drops some quite heavy-handed hints about what’s on the horizon for the Pokémon franchise.

Another time, The Teal Mask doesn’t treatment many of Scarlet and Violet’s core gameplay issues, and other folks hoping for a drastic overhaul are going to be quite disappointed. Then again playing the DLC at a time when the rumors about a Switch follow-up have shifted into “it’s getting essential” territory is especially a chortle as a consequence of you can see clearly how beefier {{hardware}} would possibly in reality artwork wonders for Scarlet and Violet and how the additional Kitikami-like approach to design might be what makes next massive Pokémon sport shine.

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