Despite the excitement surrounding the new Gen 9 Pokémon Scarlet and Violet games, the release window is still months away, and many may be looking for a different game to play while waiting for more Pokémon news. With DLC for Pokémon Legends: Arceus looking unlikely, and Pokémon Sword and Shield at the end of their lifespan for content, picking up a different game for the summer months could be a refreshing and fun way to pass the time. However, finding games that have a similar feel to the decades-long franchise can be tricky and may require jumping into new types of adventures or trying new mechanics with similar exploration objectives.
The Pokémon game series has a specific type of plotline and progression that offers a satisfying and immersive adventure for players. Starting out as a small-town kid with no remarkable achievements, the player teams up with Pokémon companions and battles their way through a series of challenges like Gym Leader battles, rival encounters, and Pokémon evil team invasions. While early games in the series were linear, requiring players to travel to locations and tackle plot points in a specific order, recent Pokémon titles have introduced a more flexible style of gameplay. This will continue in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, with the introduction of a fully open world in the new Generation Nine region.
To help prepare players for an open-world adventure, and offer a fun gameplay experience to fill the summer months, there are numerous games with similar aspects players could try out. Because open-world gameplay is driven by the player, and filled with side-quests to build the world, those who have stayed close to the classic Pokémon experience could benefit from similar open-world mechanics in other games to prepare for the big shift in Pokémon gameplay. Below are several games similar to the Pokémon series that could be great picks for players.
Slime Rancher takes place on a planet deep in space, as players take on the role of Beatrix LeBeau, a new slime farmer who has left busy city life behind her. Players are tasked with exploring the “Far, Far Range”, where they must collect a wide variety of slime species from different biomes to raise on their farms. By raising, feeding, and breeding slimes, players collect Plorts, which can be sold for currency used to expand the farm and upgrade exploration gear.
While players can’t battle with their Slime Rancher slimes as they explore its biomes, they can befriend cute pink slimes, catch cat-themed slimes, or watch sticky Honey Slimes in their natural habitats. Additionally, the gameplay in Slime Rancher is entirely self-driven, allowing players to explore at their own pace, and choose what objectives they will focus on without the pressure of an overarching plot. This could be a great option for those looking to explore open-world mechanics before Scarlet and Violet’s release without the impending anxiety of aggressive combat or stressful level grinding.
Fans of epic fantasy adventures and harrowing narratives may want to give Rune Factory 5 a try. Recently released for the Nintendo Switch, players select between a male or female protagonist who arrives at the town of Rigbath with no memory of their previous life. Joining SEED, the player builds skills, farms crops, and can capture and befriend a wide variety of monsters in the large, open-world maps surrounding the town. Those who enjoyed the interactive map in Pokémon Legends: Arceus may find Rune Factory 5’s exploration similar, offering a familiar stepping stone into more complex open-world adventures.
Like the Pokémon series, players can take a team of four monsters with them while exploring. These monster companions grow when battling, and assist the player in any combat situation, making it very similar to raising a Pokémon team. Players can also build affection with their monsters for a chance at rare items drops each day, with higher levels of friendship producing better quality items. Those who have played titles like Story of Seasons or Stardew Valley may particularly appreciate the combination of slice-of-life mechanics and RPG-style story progression.
Those who enjoy the classic pixelated rainbow of Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow may want to embark on an island adventure in Beastie Bay DX. With an art style similar to older Pokémon games, players wash up on a small island they must explore in order to survive. As objectives are met, the accessible area slowly increases, offering a type of open-world exploration that is less intimidating than simply having access to a massive overworld map. Players can befriend beasts living on the island, adding them to their expanding homestead.
Like Rune Factory 5, there is an element of simulation management in Beastie Bay DX that allows players to build towns, farm crops, and expand habitats for their beasts. While the adventure is more stationary, the monster management aspect of the game may appeal to younger Pokémon fans, while also offering a more relaxing and laid-back way to pass the time until Pokémon Scarlet and Violet’s release date in 2022.
Additionally, those looking for fun adventures in action-packed open worlds may want to try titles like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, or Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin if they haven’t already. Both games offer a chance to explore large open-world maps with interesting overarching narratives, while also building a variety of skills. However, in Breath of the Wild players won’t be able to team up with any additional creatures, and Monster Hunter Stories 2 only allows players to fight with one dragon at a time. Because of this, they may not be as similar to the Pokémon gameplay that fans are familiar with, so are better reserved for those looking to branch out.
Currently, little is known about Pokémon Scarlet and Violet’s new region, or how gameplay will unfold with the new open-world mechanics. It is possible the hybrid battle mechanics from Pokémon Legends: Arceus could be utilized to speed up wild Pokémon encounters, as well as the potential inclusion of overworld catch mechanics for seamless captures. However, it isn’t clear how the story will unfold, or if Game Freak will implement a complex side-quest system to flesh out the new world. Hopefully, more details for Pokémon Scarlet and Violet will be released soon, giving players a glimpse into what their next adventure in the series will look like.