Pokémon Scarlet and Violet are no strangers to bugs and glitches. However, the latest issue discovered by players goes deeper than the occasional texture pop.
Fans of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet’s competitive multiplayer have discovered an alarming flaw in the game’s PvP Battle Stadium. In short, it seems that every single PvP battle in the stadium uses the same RNG (random number generator) seed to generate random outcomes in the battle.
In practice, this means players can learn the order of which attacks will hit and miss, and coordinate their moves accordingly. Given the RNG component of Pokémon battles, this is a serious problem for competitive players. For example, moves with an accuracy of 90% or less seem guaranteed to miss the first time they are used (via Reddit (opens in new tab)), and so players learn to dodge them, hoping their opponent uses them first. Players on Twitter also reported similar issues.
This bug goes beyond the more aesthetic and technical issues in Scarlet and Violet and directly affects the systems central to the Pokémon experience.
Uh oh.Pokémon Scarlet/Violet Battle Stadium currently uses the same RNG seed for every battle. This allows us to choose moves to ensure that OHKO moves like Sheer Cold always hit! pic.twitter.com/lSlBJr1AF6November 27, 2022
The Nintendo Switch release of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet is riddled with performance issues and bugs, with texture pop-in and characters interrupting cutscenes being two of the most notable issues. However, this particular issue overshadows choppy animations and frame rate issues. This RNG bug hits the heart of Pokémon: the battle system.
Like any of the best RPGs out there, Pokémon lives and dies on its combat mechanics. The tense back and forth of pocket monster battles and the delicate arithmetic that props it up has been at the heart of the Pokémon experience since the days of Red and Blue.
Those pairing moments in a Pokémon battle, where we’ve been pushed to the limit, are what make the games. The familiar alarm sounds when our pocket friend’s health falls into the red. We dig deep, grit our teeth and go for a last-ditch, risky attack to try and wrest victory from the jaws of defeat. At that last moment, we cross our fingers and hope that luck is on our side.
With a broken RNG seed in its PvP mode, Pokémon just can’t live up to that experience in the same way for competitive players, and it kind of breaks my heart.
Despite this newly discovered problem, Scarlet and Violet remain full of bold and innovative features that push the boundaries of Pokémon in a big way. However, it is concerning that the depth and breadth of the bugs affecting the game are wide enough to undermine the core combat system.
Competitive Pokémon battles have been a staple of the Pokémon fan community since the very beginning of the series. The fact that Game Freak dropped the (Poké)ball here too is disappointing as it’s possible to release ambitious, open-world titles for the Switch and have them run gracefully; just look at Xenoblade Chronicles 3 or The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
By not catching this bug before launch, Game Freak introduced a flaw into the Pokémon’s main system.