Everyone knows if you make eye contact with another Pokémon trainer, you must battle them. At least, that has been the rule for generations… until now. In Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet, you’ll have to actively choose to talk to an NPC to battle them, and hear about how they like shorts because they’re comfy and easy to wear.
We had the chance to go hands-on with the upcoming Pokémon games (which we wrote about in our detailed Pokemon Scarlet and Violet hands-on preview) and in the session, learned more about some new mechanics, including the removal of mandatory trainer battles. To be clear, there may be areas where NPC battles are forced, but in general, that rule we’ve all grown accustomed to making memes about is no more in Scarlet and Violet.
When we first encountered an NPC in our hands-on session, the NPC did not initiate a battle or dialogue when we walked in front of them. The Nintendo rep specified that the icon above the trainer’s head signified they would battle us, but only if we initiated by talking to them first, and that’s how it would be throughout the game.
This may seem like an astronomically small change, but it has big implications. Generally, a gauntlet of NPCs (and, in older games, random wild Pokémon encounters) increases the perceived difficulty of an area, forcing players to prepare for the slew of battles to come, or else retreat when their Pokémon became worse for wear.
Doing away with both mandatory trainer battles and random Pokémon encounters removes the barrier to exploration, which could well be seen as a positive among some fans.
New Pokemon Scarlet and Violet Screenshots – Oct. 21
Without the dread of repeated battles cluttering an otherwise enticing path, the world suddenly seems a lot more open and ripe for exploration. Considering Pokémon Scarlet and Violet are the first truly open-world Pokemon games, removing mandatory trainer battles may be a way to ensure players can go where they want, when they want to.
What do you think? Should forced trainer battles remain a tradition, or do you like the idea of not having to battle every trainer you cross paths with?
For more on Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, read about how some people think Pokemon Scarlet and Violet’s latest new Pokemon is a Gold and Silver deep cut, and don’t miss the list of all new Pokemon revealed so far.
Casey DeFreitas is IGN’s Deputy Editor of Guides as well as IGN’s resident Pokémon master. Catch her on Twitter @ShinyCaseyD.