In today’s Pokémon Presents showcase, Game Freak shared a ton of new information about Scarlet & Violet, this Fall’s newest entries in the Pokémon series. We saw new Pokémon, new multiplayer mechanics, and Terastallizing Pokémon, a new battling mechanic that allows Pokémon to temporarily change their type to new Tera Types. Unlike recent mechanics like Sword & Shield’s Dynamaxing and Sun & Moon’s Z-Moves, this might be the first significant strategic shift in Pokémon battles in years.
The Pokémon games have been evolving their battle systems ever since Gold & Silver, but the first one-off gimmick was Mega Evolution in Pokémon X & Y. It added a new stage to a Pokémon’s evolution line, but one that was only accessible in battle. It’s a shame the games dropped this after only one generation, because they made battles more interesting and felt like a meaningful addition to a Pokemon’s kit. Pokémon could change types and acquire new abilities, but only one party member could mega evolve per battle, so you had to choose wisely. And it’s always fun to see new versions of classic Pokémon, like Venusaur or Kangaskhan.
The next two generations replaced Mega Evolution with Z-Moves and Dynamaxing, but neither of them were as strategically impactful as megas. Both are limited use systems that allow you to do a lot more damage in a short amount of time, either with a bigger move or a bigger form. This simplifies a battle to focus more on damage than any other element. Who’s going to dynamax first? Which Pokémon is going to use the z-move? At a certain point, trainers are just trading nukes, which gets less exciting over time.
This newest battle mechanic might change that. Tera Types allow a Pokémon to change their type, and some even have multiple options. Eevee (who is rumored to get a new evolution soon) is shown having two different Tera Types, so the opponent wouldn’t know which type it would shift to until it’s activated. It’s a whole new element to keep track of. Imagine Terastallizing Pikachu into a flying type to avoid a super-effective ground-type attack, keeping it in the battle long enough to retaliate. Tera Types are an exciting new level of customization, especially for seasoned Pokémon vets that know most Pokémon’s types and likely movesets.
That said, we don’t know how many options for Tera Types there will be. You can catch Pokémon with rare Tera Types in raid battles, but it’s unclear whether each Pokémon has one specific rare type (like hidden abilities) or if they’ll have one form for each type. I hope it’s the latter, but I think I’ll be satisfied either way. More than anything, I want battles to feel fresh, and this feels like a game-specific gimmick adding something strategic, rather than just spectacle.
It’s no secret that many Pokémon fans have been dissatisfied with the series lately. Between the “Dexit” controversy before the launch of Sword and Shield, discourse about graphics in 3D games, and some opinions that Pokémon Legends: Arceus fell short, Game Freak could use a win. Only time will tell if Tera Types and Terastallizing add the strategic depth I’m hoping for. We’ll all find out on November 18, when Pokémon Scarlet and Violet launch worldwide on Nintendo Switch.