Pokemon Scarlet & Violet Vs. Pokemon Legends: Arceus – Which Game Is Better?

Multiple major 3D Pokemon games released in the same year is quite an unprecedented event. With Pokemon Legends: Arceus and Pokemon Scarlet and Violet both releasing in 2022, it's fair to say that Pokemon fans are eating pretty well. However, with these games being released in such close proximity, you can't help but wonder which one turned out better.

Scarlet and Violet is the obvious answer, given it's a mainline Pokemon game with new Pokemon and a new region, but Legends: Arceus also did a lot to shake up the formula in ways we haven't seen in years. In the name of science, let's pit these games against each other on a five-point rating system of graphics, gameplay, story, performance, presentation, and Pokemon variety to determine the Pokemon Master of 2022!

6/6 Graphics

Momentarily putting aside foibles about glitches and texture popping, both games are the best-looking 3D Pokemon games we've had so far. Their more open-ended designs led to wide, natural vistas, lovingly-rendered humans and Pokemon. However, Legends: Arceus seems to have reused some assets from Sword and Shield, and it does, unfortunately, show.

Comparing the two, Scarlet and Violet's Paldea region is a bit more varied in its terrain and biomes. Plus, it has more than just one city, which is a major factor. Most of all, though, the character models in Scarlet and Violet are a bit more creative and expressive. You can instantly tell just how existentially exhausted Larry is from a single glance at his face, while most of Arceus' characters are in a near-perpetual state of dull surprise.


5/6 Gameplay

Both Legends: Arceus and Scarlet and Violet are notable for being far more open-ended than previous, more linear Pokemon games. Scarlet and Violet's design, in particular, allowing you to tackle whatever objectives you want in any order, was a big step for the series. However, Legends: Arceus made some major improvements that Scarlet and Violet built off of.

Arceus streamlined the catching and battling systems, allowing you to quickly catch and secure Pokemon without needing to battle them. It also added additional nifty wrinkles like the Noble Pokemon battles and move styles. That's not even mentioning the various quick-deploy Ride Pokemon that were condensed into Koraidon and Miraidon. Legends: Arceus walked so Scarlet and Violet could run, and it deserves recognition for that.


4/6 Story

This is a tricky one because both Legends: Arceus and Scarlet and Violet have pros and cons to their stories but in heavily contrasting ways. Legends: Arceus' story was a bit better-paced, properly ramping up the stakes and gradually cluing you into the state of Hisui and the forces affecting it. Due to its open-ended nature, Scarlet and Violet's story is a bit disjointed, with most of the good bits not coming until the end.

However, on the flip side, Legends: Arceus' story doesn't have as many really cool beats or setpieces. The characters are likable enough, but they don't really do much. Scarlet and Violet's cast, particularly Nemona, Arven, and Penny, are much more fleshed out, and when things start getting good in the last arc, they get really good. We especially have to give props to Arven's surprisingly touching arc in trying to heal Mabosstiff. It's a close call, but we're going to give Scarlet and Violet the point on this one.


3/6 Performance and Presentation

This is probably going to be the controversial point, but let's not mince words about it: both of these games were extremely glitchy at release. Both were riddled with bugs, graphical glitches, frame drops, and all that other unpleasant stuff that's admittedly pretty fun to meme about. The question here is less "which game is more broken" and more "which game is less broken."

To that end, we're leaning more toward Legends: Arceus here. While it certainly wasn't perfect, Arceus' performance was at least mostly stable; its graphical problems mildly annoying, but not to the point of being a gameplay problem. Scarlet and Violet, on the other hand… well, if you use pretty much any social media, you probably saw all the videos and screenshots of bizarre, occasionally horrifying glitches. You do the math.


2/6 Pokemon Variety

This one's a no-brainer. The Hisuian forms introduced in Legends: Arceus are pretty cool, especially the ones with old-timey aesthetics like Hisuian Voltorb. However, there are only a handful of variants and entirely new Pokemon in the Hisui Dex, with the lion's share being holdovers from the Sinnoh Dex. It's thematically appropriate, given Hisui is Sinnoh, but not especially interesting.

Scarlet and Violet, on the other hand, give us an entirely new Dex of Pokemon to appreciate, as well as new regional forms and Pokemon like Wiglett and Toedscool that are, for lack of a better word, spin-offs of existing Pokemon. It kind of goes without saying that a Dex with its own unique starters has a natural edge over one that has to pull its starters from three other Dexes.


1/6 The Verdict

With a slim 3-2 lead, our ultimate victor for the Pokemon Master of 2022 is… Pokemon Scarlet and Violet! Despite its technical problems, Scarlet and Violet is still one of the best-designed Pokemon games and a major stepping stone for the franchise. Legends: Arceus started laying the groundwork for these improvements and deserves commendation for that, but Scarlet and Violet is the first true step in enacting them on the mainline series, where it matters most. If future games can continue to build off the best aspects of these frameworks, Pokemon could truly reach the next stage of its evolution, if you'll pardon the pun.

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