Pokémon Scarlet and Violet are less than two months away. Nintendo has been gradually revealing the details of this latest chapter of the Pokémon mainline saga with the trailers it's been pumping out over the past few weeks, including this latest one. It already showcased new Pokémon and characters and some of the game’s new open-world gameplay. However, its “Jump into a Paldean Journey” trailer delves deeper into topics like Tera Pokémon, Raid Battles, and the three main storylines advertised in the game.
It also introduces something totally new that could fundamentally shift players’ motivations for battling wild Pokémon: crafting.
How TM crafting works — In the latest trailer, the trainer interacts with the Technical Machine Machine (TM Machine for short) at the Pokémon Center counter to start the crafting process. It offers two choices: “I want a TM made” or “I want to exchange materials for LP.” Choosing the TM option opens a library of craftable TMs with your current Pokémon roster on one side and the TM information on the other.
It goes like this: Select a TM to see if any of the mons in your current roster can learn it, what it does, its type and stats, and what you need to craft it. This list of TMs apparently grows as you continue your journey. The clip from the trailer implies that drops you haven’t received appear as question marks. Also, League Points can be used in place of drops if you don’t have the right items.
Why TM crafting matters — Pokémon drops add value to encounters because players can get the experience from battling Pokémon and the drops from defeating them. They can then craft these drops into valuable items (TMs). Therefore, there will always be a need to battle wild Pokémon to gather drops. It’s the first time a mainline Pokémon game is doing this, and the first time ever was in Pokémon Legends: Arceus earlier this year.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus acted as a testing field for many of the open-world mechanics in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, including crafting. In Arceus, you could craft potions, Poke Balls, and lures. Game Freak hasn’t revealed if it will incorporate crafting for anything besides TMs, but it’s possible. TM crafting is also especially important because it takes away the permanence of TMs that developed in recent Pokémon generations.
That’s right: TMs are no longer reusable. As per the official press release, the craftable TMs can only be used once.
A brief history of TMs - Before Pokémon Black and White, TMs coexisted with other move-teaching machines called Hidden Machines (HMs). HMs were like the reusable version of TMs, but they also had specific purposes like bypassing obstacles (like Flash) and traveling (like Fly). For example, the Surf HM taught Pokémon to swim across vast stretches of water.
HMs were rightfully reusable because you couldn’t complete the game without them. However, they were eventually removed and replaced with other means like Poké Rides. Game Freak made TMs reusable from Generation 5 onward. HMs completely disappeared after the Kalos region.
So Pokémon Scarlet and Violet will be the first games in a while to revert back to disposable TMs. It doesn’t seem like a huge loss if you could endlessly craft them. However, it’s hard to tell before launch if especially rare drops will or if an imbalanced system that overly relies on the grind will be an issue. It is a promising and interesting change of pace, though.
Pokémon Scarlet and Violet will be released on November 18 for Nintendo Switch.