Pokemon Violet DLC: The Teal Mask Review
I have a complicated relationship with Pokemon Violet. The game runs rather poorly, customization is more limited, and the open-world elements can get clunky. On the other hand, that gameplay loop is smooth as silk. The first DLC release, The Teal Mask, does little to ease my misgivings. Violet still runs with a stutter in its step, for one thing. But the core loop feels smoother and more rewarding than ever. Is the DLC worth picking up, then?
The story kicks off with a school field trip to Kitakami, where a festival is taking place. You’re paired up with a local trainer and sent off to scope out some landmarks. What follows is a cute-but-simple tale of an ogre and a set of rare masks. The story is fine, honestly. It acts as an effective vehicle, an incentive to explore the whole region. You’re sent off to every corner of the map in service of your goals. Along the way, you run into that buttery game loop. You also slam into the stuttering framerate.
I’ll be honest, I don’t care about framerates. At least, not as much as most people. NPCs and Pokemon stutter, skip, and slide at times. I even froze up for a second or two while turning too fast. But for the most part? All of that faded into the background for me. It was white noise, easily ignored. Your movement is unimpeded, the battles proceed as normal, and there’s almost no loading to deal with. Everything else is pure window dressing. On the other hand, if you’re the sort of person who can’t handle less than 60fps, beware! Pokemon Violet, and by extension the Teal Mask DLC, is absolutely not for you.
Still Some Skips and Stutters
Pokemon Violet features a fascinating gameplay loop. You’re constantly picking up items and getting into fights. The actual battles are breezy affairs, designed to be as streamlined as possible. The Teal Mask cranks this up a few notches, somehow. Because it’s a new region, you’ve got a new Pokedex to fill out. Plus, the density of items feels much higher. Thanks to this, you spend the first half-dozen hours constantly acquiring items, Pokedex entries, and experience. For me, this was bliss. Just a fugue state of acquisition. Eventually it slows down, but that opening chunk is quite remarkable.
Among the entries in the new Pokedex, there are a handful of brand new Pokemon to discover. Well, they’re mostly regional variants, but the thrill of discovery remains. The story section is six to eight hours at most, which is fine. It feels a bit light, but we are getting a part two at some point. Plus, there’s a fair bit of optional content to pad things out nicely. Most of my time spent playing pokemon involves tromping around the wilderness regardless, so I’m okay with this. I wish there was more outfit customization, but that’s an issue with Pokemon Violet in general. For whatever reason they decided everyone needed to be in uniform at all times. I know it doesn’t matter, but this is my single biggest grievance with this generation of Pokemon games.
Many More Monsters
Once again I ask, is the Pokemon Violet DLC worth buying? That depends. If you were hoping for a smoother framerate, you’ll be disappointed. The Teal Mask DLC runs just as well as the base game. If you want more Pokemon content, you’re in luck! There’s something like 100 old Pokemon being added to the total roster. There’s also new sidequests, new story content, and new items to acquire. The battles are challenging (by Pokemon standards), and there’s a wide variety of biomes within Kitakami to explore. For me, this was a perfect excuse to jump back into the game. But I recognize that I’m a hardcore fan of these games. Ultimately, that’s who Pokemon DLC is usually for. If you’re a fan, you’ll enjoy this extra content. Otherwise, you can leave this one be.
***A Nintendo Switch code was provided by the publisher***
- Gameplay loop is great
- New Pokemon to catch
- New battles to win
- Framerate still not great
- Light on story content
- Still lacking customization