Pokemon Scarlet and Violet players are struggling with Tera raids online

As more and more players complete the main story of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, many are dipping their toes into their primary ongoing endgame content: Tera raids. But increasingly, these players are expressing their displeasure with the ways in which these raids are extremely broken.

According to players, the latest Pokémon games suffer from poor matchmaking, teams, long animations, unforgiving timers, glitches, and poorly equipped players actively ruining the experience.

Here’s how Tera raids work. Players can find sparkling Tera Crystals scattered around Paldea’s world that, when interacted with, provide the ability to battle a powerful Terastallized Pokémon. These Pokémon are usually significantly more powerful than normal wild Pokémon, and often have a Tera type (basically this Pokémon generation’s battle gimmick) that is unusual for their species. For example, a Gyarados (normally a Flying/Water type) can have a Dragon Tera type.

If you’re just playing Pokemon solo, you can assemble a crew of three NPC trainers to join you in a 4-on-1 battle against these monsters. If players win before the time runs out, they receive rewards such as rare items and EXP candies, as well as an opportunity to catch the Pokemon in question.

Fighting NPCs like this works pretty well, but only up to a point. Tera Raids have a difficulty rating ranging from one to seven stars, indicating how difficult the Pokémon will be to defeat within the time limit. One, two, three and four star raids are easy enough for your average player to solo with a crew of NPCs. But when you reach five stars, things get tricky.

Pokémon at that level have huge health pools, powerful moves, shields that must be broken down, and the ability to remove status conditions from themselves and stat boosts from teammates. But higher difficulty raids also have better rewards: better item drops, as well as more powerful and desirable Pokémon to catch.

However, to fight most five-star and higher raids effectively, you need a team of real people playing with optimized monsters. This is where the problems arise.

Tera raids are marked on the Paldean Overworld with symbols indicating the Tera type of the Pokémon within, as well as modifications to indicate whether the raid is a six-star raid, or a special event attack. But other than that, there’s no telling what’s inside any given crystal, making it difficult to track down five-star raids with Pokémon you actually want to fight.

Because Tera types vary so wildly, it’s easy to spend significant amounts of time galloping around Paldea only to find low-level one-, two-, and three-star crystals, less interesting monster fights, meaning players trying to make playoff content may struggle to find matches worth picking.

The alternative to this is to join other people’s raids using the Poke Portal in the menu, but this system has its own problems. Only eight possible Tera raids will populate the menu at once, and the set can contain anywhere from one- to six-star raids, meaning that not all (and sometimes none) are raids that endgame players might want to do.

And the high level raids are filling up fast. It’s extremely difficult to get into five or six star raids, and what’s worse is that the game will sit there “Connecting…” for up to a minute when a raid is selected before telling a player whether or not they came in. If they did, great, but if not, or if a communication error ruins the process, they’re sent back to the same menu of eight Tera raids, but by now most available ones have probably filled up as well. So players have to wait to hit a refresh button to see a new set of raids – but that button only becomes available every few minutes.

In short, an awful lot of Tera raids fighting online sit on the same menu waiting, hope you will eventually see a raid you want to do and can actually get into it.

When you’re actually in a Tera raid, the problems show. A welcome design change from Sword and Shield’s Dynamax raid is that now all players take their turn at the same time, so matches are sped up without having to watch each turn happen one by one. The downside, however, is that Scarlet and Violet’s major problems with network lag and errors, as well as some odd design decisions, have made this feature a nightmare.

Because the timer is always ticking down, players have a certain window to choose moves in before it skips their turn; but if the game lags, players may only have a second to choose a move, or no time at all. Menus can freeze on the screen with no option to select anything, or the game can just hang for a long time without any characters on the screen doing anything.

HP bars don’t always accurately reflect what a Pokémon’s health is at any given moment, meaning it’s difficult to time the use of healing abilities. Terrastalling your own Pokémon – something the game actively advises you to do at a certain stage in the battle – results in a long animation where the timer keeps ticking down, and a similar time delay occurs when using moves, items or abilities that result in a lot of text or animations on the screen.

Basically, raids are total chaos. Moves go off at seemingly random times, turns are skipped, health bars are all over the place, and it’s often impossible to tell what’s going on at any given moment.

And all of this assumes that everyone showed up to the raid with Pokemon good for it. Five-star raids, while difficult, are fairly easily accessible to just about any player who has completed the Pokémon story mode plus some endgame bonus content. As a result, many players show up to these matches with Pokémon ill-equipped to deal with such powerful bosses.

The r/Pokémon subreddit is full of complaints about players bringing Pokemon that are weak to the monsters they’re fighting, or that are clearly low-level or don’t have the stats or movesets to handle the harder challenges. Sure, it’s not exactly a ten-year-old’s fault that they don’t know how EV training works, but when weak Pokémon teams are put together with all the team issues, it makes Tera raids a miserable experience for many.

For a pretty good (and fun) summary of all of this, a now-locked Reddit thread titled “TERA RAID RAGE THREAD” encouraged users to share their frustration with the raid system, and the comments (all in all) effectively span everything we have discussed above. For a quieter look, a search on r/Pokemon for “Tera raid” at the time of writing shows, in the first eight results, topics like “Tera Raid search system is totally broken…”, “Tera Raid” Battles Bugged”, “Tera Raid Battles can’t be played at the border”, “Tera Raid Time and Lag” and “Anyone else frustrated with Tera raids?” It’s a mess.

While currently the highest difficulty levels available are six-star raids, players are concerned about an upcoming event that will raise the challenge even higher. From 1.-4. December and 15-18 On December 1, a seven-star Charizard – a Pokémon not otherwise available in Scarlet and Violet – will appear in Tera raids. Given how difficult six-star raids are, it seems likely that this Charizard will be difficult to beat on lists and will require coordinated, powerful teams of four players working together.

But right now, that level of coordination is nearly impossible for many because of how messy the online system is. It remains to be seen whether more than just top-level players will be able to get their hands on the coveted dragon when he appears – especially since Game Freak has yet to make any statements about the state Scarlet and Violet were released in, or whether a patch is on its way or not.

Tera raid functionality was just one of the many issues we encountered during our review of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. In that review, we said that the games’ open-world gameplay was “a brilliant direction for the future of the franchise, but this promising shift is sabotaged by the many ways Scarlet and Violet feel deeply unfinished.”

Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.

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