We have recorded the a lot, Serious business of Pokémon Scarlet and purple since its release last month, but there’s one aspect – worse than any other – that hasn’t gotten enough attention: the terrible online raids.
pokemon sv rediscovers the Gigantamax raids of Sword and Shield, where up to four players can battle a single, super-powered Pokémon. In the previous games, the raid Pokémon were just really big. This time they are “terastalized”, taking on a crystallized form that makes them harder to defeat. The new raids, with their peculiar mix of free-for-all and turn-based attacks, ultimately don’t work.
Where players used to take turns launching an attack before the Pokémon would fire back, there’s now a strange mishmash of the two. Players can take their turn all at once, but they still have to wait for the Pokémon to perform its retaliation before they can follow suit. This makes for a confusing start, even playing offline alongside three virtually useless AI companions. But go online, and it For real gets bad.
Read more: Pokémon Scarlet And purple: The Kotaku Review
In fact, it’s all going to shit.
Raids are supposed to follow a certain pattern. In an even battle, players are allowed to make about two attacks each before the Pokémon somehow draws energy around it and polishes its HP bar with a piece of crystal. To fight back against this, players must deploy a third attack, which allows them to terastalize their own monster and blast away at that tougher range of hit points. All the while, there’s a time bar counting down, at the end of which – should you fail to beat it – the target Pokémon unleashes all this energy, and everyone is flung out of the attack.
Should your Pokémon get knocked out at any point, you’ll have a five-second penalty before respawning the first time, 10 seconds the next, and it’s unlikely you’ll ever have time for a third.
It almost never goes that way. If you’re playing online through the Poké Portal instead, you should be lucky beyond the horrible lobby, robberies go more like this:
You launch your first attack and it repels much less of the Pokémon’s HP than you expect. The Pokémon responds, but it takes a long time for the attack to happen. After that, the menu to perform your second attack does not appear. And still doesn’t show up. And then shows up, but when you click on it, nothing happens, but a “Y: Check status” option starts flashing, although pressing Y does nothing.
Then, just as the attack menu finally reappears, the camera cuts to the target Pokémon, which is now noisily shaking off all effects of attacks. When it cuts to you, press A to choose an attack, but it cuts right back to the Pokémon, which now apparently removes buffs that none of you could have applied. You get your second attack, then notice that the time counter suddenly jumps from three-quarters full to less than halfway, for no reason at all.
(Oh, and if you’re knocked out at any point, the five-second countdown won’t begin after it’s done with this tiresome series of long interruptions, or often just doesn’t bother at all.)
The Pokémon will then terasalize, before going through the previous events when you try to make your third attack, allowing you to terasalize back. Except at that point it suddenly announces that the Pokémon has stolen some of your Tera Orb energy, so you’ll need to launch a fourth attack. Except the time bar just jumped again from a third left to all but nothing, and before the time runs out you’ll be beamed out of the heist.
Or maybe you have a completely different version of this, where the six-star Charizard you’re battling suddenly seems to inexplicably lose most of its health in one unexplained jump, and you get to catch it before it even improves its HP.
Or maybe my favorite: the one where you set the Pokémon’s HP to zero, but for some reason don’t pass out. So you all make one more attack against his empty HP bar, and then he shoots you out of the raid as losers.
To be clear, this can happen with a team of level 100 Pokémon against the tera beast. It seems to be entirely down to the whimsical whim of the broken software.
Like I said, all this procession of boredom only happens when you make your way through the lobby. Here you will be offered eight raids to choose from, but if you fail to get into the first of your choice (which takes 45 seconds to say “Connecting…” before it will admit you are not in the raid) ), all others on the screen will have been filled and started long ago. You then have to wait for the “Check for new messages” button to ping live, which takes a minute and 30 seconds (why?!), and repeat the process until you get lucky randomly. Or bad luck, depending on how broken the next heist turns out to be.
Considering you have to pay for a Nintendo Online subscription to even take part in all this, it’s extremely annoying. This is such basic stuff, just linking four people together to play together over the internet, and yet it’s clearly way beyond the scope of the software and infrastructure in use. Secure, sometimes it works and you get what feels like a “fair” holdup (whether you win or lose), but in my experience it’s less than half the time.
Since such raids are the only way to get certain Pokémon, not least Charizard, and a way to catch monsters exclusive to the version of the game you don’t have, they’re not just a frivolous bonus. It’s an extremely frustrating experience, from the slow menus, to the unlikely chance of getting caught in a raid, to the huge wait before you can reload the available menus, to the huge chance of all that time being wasted.
Oh, and I forgot how you can’t see the levels of the other players you’re fighting with, so you have no idea if it’s a fruitless endeavor. And you will be sent back to the game world whether you win or lose, forcing you to go through all the menus again. And besides the enemy’s HP bar bouncing around, sometimes it disappears altogether, meaning there’s no way you know where you are in battle.
I have no solution. I want you to know that it’s not just you, and it’s definitely not good enough.