Matchmaking, lag, and unreliable fellow players are making Scarlet and Violet's endgame PvE a nightmare.
As more and more players finish the main storyline of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, many are dipping their toes into their primary ongoing endgame content: Tera raids. But increasingly, these players are voicing their displeasure with ways in which these raids are extremely broken.
According to players, the newest Pokémon games suffers from poor matchmaking, lag, long animations, unforgiving timers, bugs, and ill-equipped players are actively ruining the experience.
Here's how Tera raids work. Players can find sparkling Tera crystals scattered around the world of Paldea that, when interacted with, offer the opportunity to battle a powerful Terastallized Pokémon. These Pokémon are usually significantly more powerful than regular wild Pokémon, and often have a Tera type (basically this Pokémon generation's battle gimmick of choice) that's uncommon for their species. For instance, a Gyarados (normally a Flying/Water-type) might have a Dragon Tera type.
If you're just playing Pokémon solo, you can assemble a crew of three NPC trainers to join you for a 4-on-1 timed battle against these monsters. If players win before time is up, they receive rewards such as rare items and EXP candies, as well as an opportunity to catch the Pokémon in question.
Battling with NPCs like this works pretty well, but only to a point. Tera Raids have a difficulty rating that runs from one to seven stars indicating how hard the Pokémon will be to defeat within the time limit. One, two, three, and four-star raids are easy enough for your average player to solo with a crew of NPCs. But once you reach five stars, things get tricky.
Pokémon at that level have enormous health pools, powerful moves, shields that must be broken down, and the ability to remove status conditions from themselves and stat boosts from player teams. But higher difficulty raids also have better rewards: better item drops, as well as more powerful and sought-after Pokémon to capture.
In order to fight most five-star and higher raids effectively though, you need a team of real people playing with optimized monsters. This is where the problems set in.
New Pokemon Scarlet and Violet Screenshots – Oct. 21
Tera raids are marked on the Paldean overworld with symbols indicating the Tera type of the Pokémon within, as well as modifications to indicate if the raid is a six-star raid, or a special event raid. But aside from that, there's no telling what's inside a given crystal, making it a pain to track down five-star raids with Pokémon you actually want to fight.
Because Tera types vary so wildly, it's easy to spend significant amounts of time galloping around Paldea only to find one, two, and three-star crystals with low-level, less interesting monster fights, meaning players trying to farm endgame content might struggle to find fights worth picking.
The alternative to this is joining someone else's raid using the Poke Portal in the menu, but this system has its own problems. Only eight possible Tera raids will populate on the menu at once, and the set can include anything from one- to six- star raids, meaning not all (and sometimes none of them) are raids endgame players might want to do.
And those high-level raids fill up fast. It's extremely difficult to get a spot in five or six-star raids, and what's worse is that the game will sit there “Connecting…” for up to a minute once a raid has been selected before it tells a player whether or not they made it in. If they did, great, but if not, or if a communication error mucks up the process, they're sent back to the same menu of eight Tera raids, only now most of the ones available have likely filled up as well. So players have to wait to hit a refresh button to see a new set of raids – but that button only becomes available every few minutes.
In short, an awful lot of Tera raid battling online is sitting on the same menu just waiting, hoping eventually you'll see a raid you want to do and actually be able to get into it.
Once you're actually in a Tera raid, the problems expound. One design change from Sword and Shield's Dynamax raids that should be welcomed is that now all players take their turn at the same time, so battles are expedited without having to watch every single turn happen one by one. The downside, however, is that Scarlet and Violet's major issues with online lag and bugs, as well as some odd design decisions, have turned this feature into a nightmare.
I love when I can't attack for more than 30 seconds in tera raid battles! pic.twitter.com/Z1vqLgNw5l
— birbdon (@birbdon) November 27, 2022
Because the timer is always ticking down, players have a certain window to select their moves in before it skips their turn; but if the game lags, players may only have a second to choose a move, or no time at all. Menus might freeze on screen with no ability to select anything, or the game might just lag for stretches of time with no characters on screen doing anything.
HP bars don't always accurately reflect what a Pokémon's health is at a given moment, meaning it's hard to time the use of healing abilities. Terastallizing your own Pokémon – something the game actively recommends you do at a certain stage in the fight – results in a lengthy animation through which the timer continues to tick down, and a similar time delay occurs when using moves, held items, or abilities that result in a lot of text or animations on screen.
game freak is so sick and twisted giving tera raid battles a time limit knowing it takes 598587 years for this game to register each move animation
— 👻 (@jaybrielz) November 27, 2022
Basically, raids are utter chaos. Moves go off at seemingly random times, turns are skipped, health bars are all over the place, and it's often impossible to tell what's going on at a given moment.
And this is all assuming everyone showed up to the raid with Pokémon good for it. Five-star raids, while difficult, are pretty easily accessible to just about any player who has finished Pokémon story mode plus a bit of bonus endgame content. As a result, a lot of players are showing up to these bouts with Pokémon ill-equipped to tackle such powerful bosses.
The r/Pokemon subreddit is full of complaints about players bringing Pokémon that are weak to the monsters they're fighting, or that are clearly low-level or don't have the stats or movesets to deal with the harder challenges. Sure, it's not exactly a ten-year-old's fault they don't know how EV training works, but when weak Pokémon teams are compounded with all the lag issues, it's making Tera raids a miserable experience for many.
Got stuck not being able to do anything in a Tera Raid. These things are buggy messes lmao pic.twitter.com/1yR1qHcRic
— KayJay (@KayJaySSB) November 22, 2022
For a pretty good (and hilarious) summary of all this, a now-locked Reddit thread entitled “TERA RAID RAGE THREAD” urged users to share their frustration with the raid system, and the comments (all in all caps) effectively span everything we've discussed above. For a calmer look, a search on r/Pokemon for “Tera raid” at the time this was written brings up, in the first eight results, subjects like “The Tera Raid search system is totally broken…”, “Tera Raid Battles Bugged”, “Tera Raid Battles are borderline unplayable”, “Tera Raid Time and Lag”, and “Anyone else frustrated with Tera raids?” It's a mess.
While for now, the highest difficulty raids available are six-star raids, players are worried about an upcoming event that will dial the challenge up even higher. From December 1-4 and December 15-18, a seven-star Charizard – a Pokémon not otherwise available in Scarlet and Violet – will be showing up in Tera raids. Given how hard six-star raids are, it seems likely this Charizard will be off-the-charts hard to beat and will require coordinated, powerful teams of four players working together.
But right now, that level of coordination is almost impossible for many due to how messy the online system is. It remains to be seen if more than just the top-level players will be able to get their hands on the coveted dragon when he shows up – especially since Game Freak still has yet to issue any statements about the state Scarlet and Violet released in, or whether or not a patch is on its way.
Tera raid functionality was just one of the many issues we ran into during our review of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. In that review, we said that the games' open-world gameplay was “a brilliant direction for the future of the franchise, but this promising shift is sabotaged by the numerous ways in which Scarlet and Violet feel deeply unfinished.”
Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.