Pokémon Scarlet / Pokémon Violet – DF Tech Review – Incredibly Poor Visuals + Performance
Newer titles have oscillated between simple isometric 3D games and more ambitious, open efforts, but none have particularly impressed. Pokemon scarlet and violet, however, seem to be qualitatively different. Just about every review mentions major technical issues and players have documented countless areas of concern from poor image, quality and frame rates. The fundamental problems like game breaking bugs scarlet and violet definitely arent pushing visual boundaries, but is it really as bad as the online commentary would suggest, and how do these games fare when pitted against Pokemon Legends Arceus? The other open world Pokemon title released earlier this year, foreign Ill cut to the chase, Pokemon, scarlet and violet simply do not live up to the standards of other Pokemon titles. There are so many glaring technical problems, but its going to be difficult to cover them all. Im testing the Violet version of the game here, but all the technical details should apply equally to Scarlet as well. The most fundamental issue is The Games. Poor, visual design and asset quality, Pokemon Violet is Bland and extremely basic. Looking environmental assets are low quality, with basic geometry, ugly, tiled, textures and simple designs at a distance, the environmental assets look their worst stripped of most detail and completely lacking Shadows. Violet makes use of some pretty harsh normal maps to add detail here which clashes with the games otherwise fairly low frequency, aesthetic Textures in general are pretty bad, both in terms of artwork and asset quality. Low resolution 2D art is everywhere like on the ground.
In this shot or on the barrier here, texture art used for larger surfaces is usually very crudely, tiled with obvious and unsightly repeated patterns. Even before you consider any of the games, serious technical faults and cutbacks. The fundamental artwork often looks ugly and cheap. Violet also has some serious issues with draw distance and log management to start with NPCs and Pokemon pop in Suddenly at relatively close distances and often jump in and out of existence, as you approach its a highly distracting issue, particularly when traveling at speed making matters worse. The game doesnt keep track of Pokemon entities at all after they pop out so moving forwards and backwards effectively despawns, whatever Pokemon that were present. Environmental geometry and Shadow Maps also pop in quite close to the camera, which is jarring theres zero approximation of Shadows at range, except for some ugly texture based Cloud Shadows. So Shadow draw can be very conspicuous here. Certain environments also have sudden lighting changes when you pass a certain threshold thats, not all at just about any reasonable distance from the player. Animated objects will start to run at reduced rate animations, presumably to lower CPU load. I noticed reduced animation rates anywhere between one quarter rate to 1 15 rate in my gameplay. This windmill is a good example at a close distance. It updates 30 FPS, then seven and a half FPS, then 3 FPS and then 2fps as we get further and further away. Some objects like this flag, stop updating entirely at a certain distance.
This is most noticeable on NPCs in the gamestown areas, which run at very low animation rates until you are within a few meters. This never looks good, but it can be particularly jarring at times like in this classroom shot. Only two characters here are running at full rate, with every other character, running it very low and extremely distracting animation rates. Reduced rate animation is a perfectly fine, optimization to ease CPU demands, but its rarely used at anything like this sort of range. The games – cutscenes are another troubled Point, these mostly playback as text sequences with simple animations, which generally does work fine, but they do have issues. Violet uses a Crossfade effect, for instance, to transition, but the still frame is usually held on screen for about a second or so before you see the new shot. The games cutscenes use scrolling 2D images for cutaways instead of pre encoded video, which feels pretty cheap. Violet has a gaussian depth of field effect, but its often applied in an inappropriate way that isnt remotely physically plausible. You spend a lot of time advancing through these text. Events, so these deficiencies can be pretty annoying. They just dont, look or feel very polished. I have plenty more visual grievances. Pokemon battles take place in the world map, but dont, look very good with awkward camera animation and poor asset quality. Its pretty easy to get the camera to clip through geometry in general gameplay, even without trying to visual glitches like flashes of cult.
Geometry are a frequent site, especially when traversing back and forth through environments and this early game. Gameplay challenge just looks sort of ridiculous with floaty physics that have zero impact on the player character. So is there anything about Pokemon Violet that actually works? Some of the smaller scale indoor environments can be reasonably attractive, with good looking baked lighting and decently detailed assets. These spaces are pretty constrained and are usually presented from fixed camera angles, but they are definitely the visual highlight of this game. Character. Designs can be quite attractive and unique, particularly for NPCs that are important to the main story and the Pokemon themselves mostly. Look fine as well beyond that, though there arent very many positive things that I can say and that unfortunately extends to image quality and performance. Music, Pokemon Violet runs with a dynamic resolution setup on switch in docked mode. The game runs between 720p and 1080p, typically hovering around 864p during most gameplay portable mode has a resolution range of 576p to 720p, though it typically stays at or near 720p outside of towns. In practice, image quality is pretty questionable in docked mode. The combination of long lines of sight with zero, anti aliasing and limited post processing mix pixel crawl, very obvious. Portable play fares somewhat better here, but its not especially clean, particularly when the resolution dips, Pokemon Violet targets 30fps but suffers from near constant frame rate dips and stutters frame rates between 25 and 30.
Fps are common during traversal, with occasional frame time, spikes to 100 milliseconds and above its a pretty pleasant experience in general, portable mode fares about the same as thought as far as I can tell, with similar frame rate drops and momentary hitches at worst, Pokemon Violet can Run at 20 FPS for extended periods like in certain demand and cut scene sequences, and sometimes when traveling through some of the games, towns on the whole, its a very unstable feeling title Pokemon battles fare somewhat better than traversal, but you will spend a lot of time. Moving through the open world, which presents an unsteady and rough experience and thats, not for a lack of optimization as a lot of effort, seems to have been made to claw back every possible margin of extra performance. Here from the aggressive draw distances to the brutally cut down animation rates to the extensive use of dynamic resolution, Violet is paired back about as far as you can go and still cant manage to hold on to 30 FPS plus when the game does drop. A significant number of frames you can feel the animation slow down, suggesting that the game speed is tied to frame rate. Given those cutbacks, I suspect that Pokemon Violet is probably significantly CPU Limited in general play, which would also make sense, given the dramatic frame time. Spikes that we often see foreign switch is a relatively weak system based on a low power tablet. Chip from 2015 and paired with a low bandwidth pool of memory, the switch has been showing its limitations for quite some time.
So is this just a game that is too ambitious on a basic level for the switch Hardware, in other words too big for switch in a word, no weve seen some really impressive switch titles that manage to maintain good frame rates and excellent visual quality with larger And denser open world environments than what were seeing here. Titles like Xenoblade, Chronicles, 3 and Dying Light have shown with the switch Hardware is capable of when paired, with Advanced Graphics technology and image reconstruction theres, nothing in violence, visual makeup that suggests this game would run aground against the fundamental Hardware limits of the switchs Silicon that Becomes particularly clear when measured up against the other open world Pokemon title released this year, Pokemon Legends Arceus was released just 10 months ago in January 2022. At the time of its release, it wasnt exactly a Top Flight visual experience, but it looks so much better than Pokemon Violet just to look at this scene. For instance, the terrain and Arceus is pretty nicely sculpted with realistic, looking rock formations and reasonably high quality texture work. Most of the terrain features in the violet look laughably simple. By comparison, this is some of the most blatant textured tiling Ive, seen in a modern game, and the geometry is simple and crudely: rounded, also notice the approximation of cloud Shadows across both titles. We get rough, harsh, blobs and violet and more nicely diffused patterns in Arceus environmental assets in general. Look much better in Arceus its hard to draw up one to one comparisons here, but I think the buildings in Arceus look much more visually pleasing, particularly at a distance basic texture.
Assets are also higher quality in Arceus, like the grass textures, which are quite crude and violent archaeus suffered from some Poppin issues, but Violet is dramatically worse. Npcs draw in much further afield from a player in Arceus and fade in over several frames, Shadows draw and at a much greater distance and Arceus as well critically distant NPCs and animated objects run at good animation rates. This NPC, for instance, is animating at full rate. At a distance where most violent NPCs would not have even loaded in these water wheels feature 30fps animations in Arceus, even very far away at a similar distance. This Pokemon Violet windmill is down to just 2 frames per second. There are plenty of basic visual deficits in Violet, too rendering resolution has been cut back relative to Arceus, which typically ran at 1080p in docked mode and ran at a locked 720p when, on the go Shadows, look seriously degraded as well, particularly in Pokemon battles. Finally, I do think that arceuss visual style does look more coherent. Arceus maintains a style clearly inspired by Legend of Zelda breath of the wild, with the same painterly blend of cell shaded characters and low contrast, stylized environmental artwork Violet in contrast, sort of mashes different visual elements together, smooth Pokemon and untextured grass are juxtaposed against crude environmental Geometry with Stark looking normal Maps even absent the games, obvious technical flaws. I just dont find Violets fundamental visual design, very pleasing and, despite all those cutbacks, Violet has a much less stable frame rate than Arceus 2022s.
First Pokemon title manages to hold on to 30 FPS. Most of the time with the occasional dropped framework too Violet, obviously struggles far more here with dramatic frame time fluctuations and a near constant barrage of dropped frames in general, gameplay, Arceus isnt, exactly the high water mark for switch visuals, of course, so lets bring in a More sophisticated open world game for reference, The Legend of Zelda breath of the wild is a switch launch title that still holds up well today. It isnt packing any Top Flight rendering technology, but measured up against Violet. It looks generationally improved. Environmental assets are obviously dramatically better in breath of the wild with detailed, interesting looking Villages properly. Sculpted in textured Rock faces and beautiful, dense foliage draw distances, stretch out much further and the developers use a technique to approximate Shadows at far distances with Shadow Maps, Fading unobtrusively Into view. As the player nears, there are all kinds of subtle punches in breath of the wild as well like a well realized, wind and weather system that makes the open world feel alive. The Moon is treated like a strong light source with Shadow casting properties. So, even at night, the environment has good depth and contrast plus theres some depth of field and Atmospheric effects in the far distance, which help to keep the focus in the foreground and hide any visual deficiencies with distant detail. Breath of the wild was made with much greater care and Technical competence, and it shows in just about every frame.
It still has plenty of visual faults like issues with aliasing and lower resolution and texture work in some places, and there are definitely more technically Advanced switch titles out there. But despite its nearly six year old vintage, it looks so much better than violet its almost unbelievable. Violet and Scarlet are game. Freaks fifth set of Pokemon games for the Nintendo switch and undoubtedly theyre worse looking games on the hardware. So how did this happen? According to developer interviews, game development began in 2019, but digging through the credits. There does seem to be quite a lot of developer overlap between this game and Arceus, suggesting that the games, time in full production may have been considerably truncated game. Freak has delivered a lot of Pokemon titles over the switchs lifespan about one per year with a total staff of about 170 people, which is a pretty Breakneck Pace in modern game development. The games, larger scope, is also probably causing some issues. Pokemon Violet doesnt present a fully contiguous world as its broken up by loading screens when traversing certain areas, but it does feature pretty substantial open zones with towns, settlements and plenty of NPCs all presented without loading screens or visual barriers. This isnt anything special relative to other modern games, of course, but it is a substantial step up from Arceus which had somewhat more limited open world spaces, mostly populated by natural terrain features and Pokemon. So engine limitations related to that open world environment probably do play a big role here and I suspect, game freaks proprietary Tech is due for an overhaul, if not an outright replacement, especially when it comes to more ambitious and open titles, but even crippling code issues.
Dont excuse how crude some of the artwork is here, which suggests a production bottleneck elsewhere as well its clear that scarlet and violet sit well below the technical standards set by prior Pokemon titles and that extends far beyond the visual and performance complaints that Ive launched. Here. The game suffers from serious bugs and game breaking issues, most of which I didnt have time to replicate, but have been extensively documented. Online bees range from momentary, visual artifacts to ridiculous traversal exploits theres, no end to the variety of bizarre problems that players have managed to uncover. Ultimately, Pokemon, scarlet and violet are comprehensive technical failures, embarrassing artwork, terrible draw distance, poor performance, mediocre image, quality and a Litany of bugs plagued this pair of very troubled games. Pokemon fans deserve better. If you enjoyed this video, please like subscribe and press the bell for YouTube notifications check out the patreon at digitalfoundry.net for exclusive nearly access content and to get in touch just use.