Of all of the information released about Pokémon Scarlet and Violet recently, the thing that’s generated the biggest debate in the competitive Pokémon community is the new battle ‘gimmick’, called Terastallize. Aside from sticking some rather out-of-place chandeliers on your Pokémon’s head, this new mechanic has potential to really shake up the VGC.
As a quick primer for those who don’t know how it works, you can Terastallize (presumably just one) of your Pokémon once per battle, and the effect will last until that Pokémon is taken out or the battle ends. Terastallizing changes your Pokémon’s type into its Tera Type, which could be any one of the 18 on the Pokémon type chart. For example, a Pikachu with a Flying Tera Type will switch from Electric to Flying-type when it’s Terastallized. When in this state, moves that are the same type as either your Pokémon’s original type or its Tera Type will be extra powerful (basically a stronger version of STAB).
Ok, so that’s what Terastallizing is, but what kind of an impact is it going to have on competitive play, and what are experts in competitive Pokémon feeling based on what we know so far?
While there’s a lot of excitement about the potential this mechanic has in battling, there’s also some apprehension. The can of overpowered worms that Terastallizing might open up is large, to say the least. Immediately after its reveal, many people gravitated towards how it could be used to give certain Pokémon zero weaknesses, in particular those that have Levitate as an ability.
Levitate essentially renders Ground-type moves useless, and for Electric-type Pokémon, that’s excellent news, as it’s their only weakness. Currently, there are a couple of Electric ‘mons with Levitate like Eelektross, but they’re not really part of the competitive meta. With Tera Types, more viable Pokémon like Latias, Latios, Hydreigon, and Giratina could all now head into battle with Levitate, switch to an Electric Tera Type, and enjoy zero weaknesses. Hydreigon has already been confirmed for the Pokémon Scarlet and Violet Pokédex, so we know we’ll be able to try this out on at least one of these options.
That’s just the beginning, though. Various authorities on the VGC, such as Pokémon channel ‘BridgeFour Gaming’ on YouTube, have highlighted how several S-tier competitive Pokémon could use Tera Types to their advantage.
Xurkitree, a glass cannon with extremely high special attack, could completely dupe an opposing Ground-type that should have the upper hand. By swapping to a Grass Tera Type and giving Xurkitree the Grass-type move Energy Ball, you’ve now got something that could one-shot most Ground types into oblivion.
Metagross could also make use of its wide move pool and eliminate some of the many weaknesses its usual Steel/Psychic typing has. Having a pure Dark or pure Fighting Metagross would see it shake off those weaknesses and have boosted power for moves like Brutal Swing (Dark) or Brick Break (Fighting).
There are dozens more examples like this, and while we’re still waiting to know the full Pokédex, it really does blow the doors wide open for experimentation and some really overpowered Terastallized Pokémon.
However, some are concerned around its readability. Former VGC world champion Wolfe Glick admitted in a recent livestream that the mechanic is “interesting” but it makes him “nervous” about how battles will play out.
“There’s still a stupid guessing element of this which is dumb in my opinion,” Glick says. While Dynamaxing in Sword and Shield did have a slight surprise element, the majority of players could roughly read when a Dynamax would happen and on which Pokémon.
Unless Tera Types are going to be shown before matches in Scarlet and Violet, the surprise element is going to be cranked up to levels never before seen in competitive Pokémon. It will almost be impossible to counter without a stroke of luck, and having full type coverage across your squad will become super essential. With any Pokémon being able to change to any type, reading your opponent will be extremely difficult.
While the tactical possibilities of Tera Types – which we’ve only just scratched the surface of – are really exciting, the currently incomplete Pokédex and lack of info around how it works in VGC battles is understandably unsettling some in the community. With more info and a ruleset, nerves might be calmed by the time the Pokémon Scarlet and Violet release date rolls around, but if this is really going to be a type-swapping free-for-all, it might be luck, rather than judgement, that’ll prevail in the early seasons of the VGC.