Game Guides

How to pick the best starter in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet

A green cat, fiery gator, and dapper duck walk into a Pokémon Center...

Just like every Pokémon adventure before it, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet present you with a critical choice early on: Do you pick the cute little grass, fire, or water Pokémon to be your first companion? As revealed earlier in 2022, the Generation IX starters include the “attention-seeking” Grass-type Sprigatito, the “laid-back” Fire-type Fuecoco, and the “earnest and tidy” Water-type Quaxly.

The wider gaming community affectionately dubbed Sprigatito “wéed cat” because of the cannabis-looking leaf on its face. Meanwhile, Fuecoco looks like a goofy crocodile with a huge, beaming smile on its face. And Quaxly? He’s just a dapper little duck. But for all those would-be Pokémon Champions out there, what’s the best starter?

It’s worth noting here that no matter which Pokémon you’ll choose, it’ll have roughly the same base stat total spread out among HP, Attack, Defense, Special Attack, Special Defense, and Speed (which is typically around 530 for a starter when all combined). So you really can make this choice based on how it looks; Each of them will be an above-average monster. But for more hardcore trainers, the real question is what the starter’s eventual type will be after it is fully evolved and how well-suited those types are to its stats.

For instance, most Electric-type moves are Special, so an Electric Pokémon with innately higher Attack and lower Special Attack will have a harder time finding effective moves. While there are certainly exceptions to this rule, it’s a good starting point. So here’s our assessment of the best options in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet:

3. Quaxly

Behold the dapper duck.Nintendo

What’s always difficult about picking the Water-type starter is how easy it is to find a different solid Water Pokémon for your lineup (which is always essential!). Since the very first generation of games, Magikarp have been flopping around in the water, waiting for you to level them up into the mighty Gyarados at Level 20. So why not just go with that?

The “Duckling Pokémon” Quaxly does present the player with an interesting option. In terms of offensive potential, the fully evolved Quaquaval becomes Water/Fighting, emphasizing the Attack stat with a balanced spread amongst all of the other stats. So, classic Water moves like Hydro Pump will be wasted on this duck, but there are viable physical Water moves like Waterfall to consider. And that high Attack will ensure that all of his Fighting moves pack a punch. That said, Quaxly might suffer a bit due to its comparatively lower Speed.

If you like the vibe of this suave duck that evolves into a “yassified” peacock dancer, by all means, go for it. We’ll be sticking with Gyarados or maybe a Golduck.

2. Sprigatito

It was written on her face.Nintendo

Cat lovers can’t go wrong in picking Sprigatito, the “Grass Cat Pokémon.” While the fully evolved Meowscarada’s Grass/Dark typing is rough in that it’s weak to seven other types, it does take half damage from six types — and it’s immune to Psychic damage. It also looks like some kind of silly magician, which is a plus. On a Pokémon with a different stat spread, the Grass/Dark typing would be unfortunate. But like the Mythical Zarude from Sword and Shield, this starter is a speedy sweeper that emphasizes physical attacks. It has low HP, Defense, and Special Defense and can’t really take any damage whatsoever, but its Speed is so high that it’ll land on lists of the fastest Pokémon ever.

In general, Grass and Dark moves tend to emphasize Special Attack, but there are still enough physical moves to choose from. So as long as you select the right moves that lean into its strengths, Sprigatito can wipe out almost any enemy before it has a chance to act. If it didn’t have the high Speed and either high Attack or Special Attack, then Sprigatito probably wouldn’t be worth it.

1. Fuecoco

Look at that big goofy smile!Nintendo

The “Fire Croc Pokémon” is easily the cutest-looking choice in the bunch (look at that big smile!) and eventually evolves into the Fire/Ghost-type Skeledirge. This is a pretty rare type combo that’s immune to all Fighting- and Normal-type moves, and it’s super-effective against seven other types! Strong Fire Pokémon are also hard to come by in most games, and Scarlet/Violet is no exception, which also gives Fuecoco an edge against the cat and duck in the room.

In terms of statistics, Fuecoco is definitely an offensive tank that boasts high HP and Defense with an even higher Special Attack. Considering the fact that pretty much all of the best Fire and Ghost moves are Special Attacks anyway, it makes for a deadly combo. Fuecoco’s one major blindspot, however, is its abysmal Speed. With its Blaze ability, Fuecoco’s Fire moves get a 50 percent boost when its HP falls below 30 percent, which actually jives well with that slow speed. In other words, it can take a hit and then get a big power boost as a result.

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