Raids are Still Trash
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Contributed by DJMMT
I hate raids. I’ve even written posts about my disdain for them previously. Sadly, very little has changed concerning this issue in recent years. The industry keeps doing them, and they still suck. The only thing I can say about raids that isn’t completely negative is that I don’t feel like they’ve gotten comparatively worse than how bad they were four years ago. If nothing else, the industry has stayed consistent in how it views, builds, and manages raids.
About a month ago, The Pokémon Company released the latest Pokémon Presents. For those unaware, this is basically a Nintendo Direct focused exclusively on Pokémon related news/updates. Honestly, it was a solid presentation with some pretty meaningful announcements. The one that was most important to me was the news that both Mew and Mewtwo would be available in Pokémon Scarlet/Violet in a limited time event. Basically, they gave everyone a free Mew with a one-time use gift code that became available the day of the announcement (8/8/2023). Then, from September 1 – 17, they added a special Mewtwo raid, that would allow players to catch one Mewtwo, provided they could win the raid before the event ends.
Before I get into the raid itself, I want to note that this raid should be considered end-game content. Whether or not a chance to get a Mewtwo should be end-game content is a topic for a different blog post. Regardless of my own feelings about the fact that only seasoned players of Scarlet/Violet can get Mewtwo, that’s how it worked for this event. While I had purchased Scarlet day one, I hadn’t actually gotten around to playing it. I basically activated the game, got my partner Pokémon (Fuecoco, of course), claimed the preorder Pikachu, made it to the first Pokémon Center, saved, and then hadn’t played since. While I was always going to play it eventually, all I had done before this event was occasionally login to claim a free gift code, and then turn the game back off. But if I wanted a Mewtwo, I had to finish the game.
So, for the last month, I’ve been playing Pokémon Scarlet from basically the beginning. I had to rush through the entire game in time to unlock 7-star raids, so I could do the Mewtwo raid. And I had to use Mew to do it, because the Mewtwo event gave Mew a bonus in the raid battle. Meaning that not only did I have to beat the entire plot of the game in a month, but I also had to grind Mew up to level 100. Interestingly, The Pokémon Company didn’t announce that the Mewtwo raid would be a 7-star raid in advance. That was just an assumption that everyone made based on past raid events. And I’m glad the people on the Pokémon Discord told me as much, because you absolutely needed to have a level 100 Mew to get through that Mewtwo raid successfully.
Finally, I finished the game, did the mandatory post-game content, grinded through 5-star raids, and then eventually was allowed to face the Mewtwo raid. Going into the raid, I thought the worst part was over. I had literally beaten an entire turn-based RPG and maxed out my Mew in a month, just to hopefully be able to catch a Mewtwo. If that wasn’t enough to earn a base set 1 promotional Pokémon, then something was incredibly wrong; and it was.
The Mewtwo raid was/is a 7-star raid that’s so difficult people had to re-spec their Mews, which costs resources, and coordinate with other players, in my case via Discord, just to have a shot at defeating and catching Mewtwo. It sucked. This raid was absolutely not fun. It forced a significant number of players, myself included, to play in ways they had never considered, in the worst way possible. To be clear, with the help of two other players, one of which was extremely unhappy with the fact that our team literally couldn’t win until they changed their Pokémon, I did manage to defeat the raid and catch the coveted Mewtwo. However, I would in no way, shape, or form describe that raid as having been fun.
Pokémon is a kid friendly turn-based RPG. That is what it has always been, and honestly that’s what it should continue to be. It’s supposed to be accessible to every level of player and allow anyone the ability to “catch ‘em all.” Catching Mewtwo was not a casual affair. It was not accessible to players of all experience levels. Most importantly, the raid wasn’t fun. And honestly, no Pokémon raid has ever really been fun.
The first time I did a Pokémon raid was in Pokémon GO. The concept worked very well in Taipei, where I live, because so many people were actively playing GO. So it was pretty much always possible to get a full group when trying to raid, for the first several months. But even then, it wasn’t really fun so much as novel. Now, Pokémon raids are commonplace, and really they just feel like an annoying waste of time. You have to connect to the internet, wait for people to join your lobby, or find people on Discord or Reddit to do the raid with you. If it’s a harder raid, you have to create a synergized strategy and hope that you don’t get thrashed with back-to-back critical hits, even when your Pokémon is at level 100. Who actually likes doing this? This is absolutely not what Pokémon was intended to be.
I can’t think of a single time in any game where I enjoyed a raid because the raid itself was fun to play. At best, I had fun playing with the group in the raid. But that’s not a nod to the gameplay or raid concept. That’s a nod to my friends. We could easily have had the same great time just playing a normal mode of play cooperatively. We didn’t need some unnecessarily difficult mode of play with a stupidly over-powered boss fight to hopefully get a good reward at the whims of the RNG gods. We could have just played the game and had a good time, because the core gameplay is good. Or at least it should be.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Can we please have anything other than raids to do special gameplay events? We don’t need them. Most people tolerate them at best; because nobody actually likes them. They’re almost always so prohibitively difficult that a large number of players put in the time to do them only to reap no rewards for all the effort, time, and resources they put in. The fact is that many people aren’t going to get that Mewtwo. I got it, because I was willing to put in the work to do so; but I don’t think that’s what the Pokémon experience is supposed to be. If my wife was a Pokémon player, she absolutely would have wanted to catch a Mewtwo; and she absolutely wouldn’t have managed to get one. She would not have wanted to go through the effort to re-spec her level 100 Mew. She would not have taken the time to try and coordinate with other players on some social media platform. She would ultimately have quit playing the game after failing to get the Mewtwo in time, because she would have felt like all the time and effort she put in was wasted. Which it would have been.
Mewtwo should have been at most a 5-star raid. Difficult enough to only be for players who have completed the campaign, but easy enough for pretty much any player with post-game level Pokémon to be able to beat with only a small amount of effort. If a group of random players can’t easily group up and beat it, then it shouldn’t exist. Especially not for a Pokémon as iconic as Mewtwo. If they wanted to do something like different raid difficulty levels for Mewtwos with better base stats, I could support that idea. But everyone should have been able to get a Mewtwo just for putting in the effort to play the game seriously enough to finish it and level up their Pokémon. I know this post won’t change anything, but I really hate raids and how they hurt the experience for both new and causal players. Please developers, for the love of gaming, STOP DOING THEM!