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A consistent problem with the Pokémon series over the last few years is that it’s just a bit too easy. This was an even bigger problem when it came to DLC.
For most players, past DLC was released after they’d already been grinding the main game for years, and were likely equipped with a ton of top-level Pokémon. This meant that no matter what challenges the DLC posed, sheer power could swiftly alleviate them. The Indigo Disk looks to change that.
Set at Blueberry Academy, a school in the Unova region, you’re invited to explore the new location and take on some of the toughest trainers yet seen in a Pokémon game. You’re also given access to a huge open-world Terarium area that simulates four biomes, a coastal shore, a snowy peak, a vast canyon, and a dry savannah.
During our preview session, we got to run around the open world area for almost an hour, catching Pokémon and battling trainers. While in some ways this a very transparent way to reintroduce dozens and dozens of old favorites (including every starter Pokemon ever) it’s also a glimpse into what awaits you when you take on the DLC’s main campaign battles.
Battles in The Indigo Disk are tough. Not only are the Pokémon much higher in level than battles in the game’s first DLC (it’s unclear currently how the scaling will work), but often they have competitive movesets and competitive items.
For the preview, we had a set team of Pokémon around level 80, including the brand-new Duraludon evolution, Archaludon. This didn’t stop us from getting absolutely stomped by a random fighting-type trainer with a Hitmonlee/Hitmontop combination that we weren’t prepared for.
The battles in The Indigo Disk are designed to prepare you for the game’s main narrative, which involves challenging the Blueberry Academy Elite Four. Like previous Elite Fours, these trainers will be extremely tough challenges. Throw in the two vs. two competitive format and teams built by people who understand the meta-game of Pokémon battling, it’s a steep hill to climb.
Each Elite Four member will also have an Elite Four Challenge, which is a puzzle one will have to complete before challenging the trainer themselves. During our preview, we faced Amarys’ challenge, which saw us ride on the back to Koraidon/Miraidon in order to fly through some hoops around the open area.
This part was fairly easy, which we assume was a cruel joke to set us up for the absolute smackdown we took at the hands of Amarys’ team. We can’t talk specifics here, but it was both incredibly strong and battled us with AI that was more sophisticated and punishing than anything found in a Pokémon game in years.
The Indigo Disk feels like an area that would have been added into a third release in a generation back in Pokémon’s handheld days. The most significant DLC release so far, the wild areas are an enjoyable way to collect old friends and seem to be full of new trainers to battle and puzzles to solve.
The real fun is in the DLC’s main challenge, the brand new Elite Four, which, from the one battle we undertook, isn’t to be taken lightly and breezed through in an afternoon. Our main question is whether the game will teach players how to come up against these strong trainers, as well as the more in-depth mechanics of battling that the main series of games has always had, but mostly stayed away from shouting about in-depth.
Hanging over all of the DLC is the spectre of Terapagos, the brand-new legendary Pokémon that will be introduced in the DLC and be central to the mystery of the 19th Tera-Type. While we didn’t see anything of this quest during our preview, the references to not only this but the wider Pokémon world we did run into make us excited to jump into what is likely the closing chapter in the Pokemon Scarlet and Violet story.
The Indigo Disk looks to close out this chapter of Pokémon on a high note. While issues with the base game of Scarlet and Violet remain, this expansion feels far more significant than The Teal Mask and will likely introduce a whole new generation of trainers to the depth of battling that Pokémon has always had.
Pokémon fans have been crying out for a difficult Pokémon game for years, and The Indigo Disk might just provide it, that is, if you can drag yourself away from trying to catch a shiny Oshawott.