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The Indigo Disk DLC will force fans to finally learn to play Pokemon

Pokemon Scarlet Violet Indigo Disk concept art

A vocal portion of the Pokemon fandom has bristled over games becoming “too easy” in recent years, but that’s reportedly set to change with Scarlet and Violet’s The Indigo Disk DLC.

For years, Pokemon players have said that the EXP Share item makes Pokemon a cakewalk. In reality, Pokemon has actually gotten steadily more difficult over the years with the introduction of new mechanics. That’s just not particularly obvious when exclusively playing through the story.

While major esports titles generally stress having the competitive form of the game be similar to the one played by everyone casually, that’s not the case with Pokemon. Official competitive Pokemon matches are played entirely in a doubles format, where players have greater use for mechanics like weather and stat changes that aren’t necessary when running through the story.

Influencers and media outlets have gotten an early look at the next DLC, and that sneak peek has confirmed that The Indigo Disk’s trainer battles will exclusively take place in a doubles format. This may push many self-declared hardcore Pokemon fans to actually learn how to play the game.

Pokemon Scarlet and Violet: The Indigo Disk DLC brings makes double battles the norm

Early hands-on demos of Pokemon Scarlet and Violet: The Indigo Disk confirmed that the DLC will have doubles-based trainer battles

Double battles have existed since Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire but in the mainline Pokemon series, they’ve been scarcely used. Most games will have a couple of segments where the player character teams up with an NPC for a short while, but all the biggest moments of the game are one-on-one battles. Though there were spin-off titles in Pokemon Colosseum and XD: Gale of Darkness for the Gamecube that exclusively had double battles, they’ve never been a major part of any other games since.

pokemon colosseum battle
Pokemon Colosseum

Part of this stems from the simple fact that playing doubles Pokemon is just much harder. While players can typically blaze their way through the story with one high-level Pokemon or a balanced team full of damaging moves, that’s not the case in doubles. 

Players need to account for a variety of possible strategies. One weather move or Trick Room can completely invalidate a player’s team and players need a check for those, while still being able to execute their own tactics. It’s a major challenge that even longtime players have trouble wrapping their heads around and it’s one The Pokemon Company has been shielding players from until The Indigo Disk DLC.

Despite this, double battles have been the standard in official Pokemon competitions for over a decade. This has put Pokemon in an awkward spot where there’s little guidance for players looking to go from the single-player experience to multiplayer. Meanwhile, the lack of sufficient tools for building and a lax stance on the matter from Game Freak and The Pokemon Company has led to the normalization of hacked Pokemon.

Players have taken the plunge and scaled the learning curve despite this and competitive Pokemon boasts a strong production values, making it a solid viewer experience. There have been some signs of competitive Pokemon becoming a greater focus for the franchise’s handlers including job listings in early 2023 related to Pokemon esports.

It’s possible that the Indigo Disk DLC is set to lay the groundwork for greater crossover between the competitive Pokemon world and the regular games like Scarlet and Violet. If that’s the case, players who think the game is too easy without touching the online ladder ought to buckle in because they’re in for a rude awakening.

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Written by Steven Rondina

Steven Rondina has been playing video games since he was a toddler and appreciates every genre out there. He has earned the platinum trophy in every Soulsborne game, is regularly Master Ball-ranked on the competitive Pokemon ladder, and has spent thousands of hours missing shots on Dust 2. His work has previously been featured by Bleacher Report and The Washington Post, and he was an Assistant Editor at WIN.gg. You can follow him on Twitter / X at @srondina.

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