Just a couple of months short of its one-year anniversary, Game Freak has released the first DLC for Pokemon Scarlet and Violet. The Teal Mask is the first half of the Hidden Treasure of Area Zero expansion and takes trainers to the land of Kitakami. It introduces new Pokemon, new trainers, and expands the universe. It’s a fun dive back into the world of Scarlet and Violet, but a harsh reminder of how rough those games are around the edges.
Let’s take a trip
In The Teal Mask, your character is part of a selected group of students from Uva/Naranja Academy to participate in a field trip to the land of Kitakami. Here, you’ll meet interesting new characters and investigate the legend of the Loyal Three Pokemon.
Continuing on one of the bright spots from the base games, The Teal Mask introduces a slew of excellent new characters into the fold. Carmine and Perrin stuck out as two favorites of mine in the new area, and I hope to see more of them in The Indigo Disk.
Scarlet and Violet had a strong cast of new Pokemon, and I quite enjoyed all of the new additions in The Teal Mask. Applin gets a new evolution in Dipplin, adding a third evolutionary form to the Grass-Dragon that was introduced in Sword and Shield. Ogrepon, the Mask Pokemon, is one of my favorite new Legendaries in a while.
Not only does The Teal Mask add some original new creatures, but it also reintroduces several Pokemon that were unobtainable in the base game. This follows the trend set in Sword and Shield, which increased the Pokedex size with its DLC releases after player backlash. Among the Pokemon added to the Pokedex are the Sinnoh starters, Milotic, and Kommo-o. What’s really neat is that you don’t need to purchase the DLC to gain access to these recurring Pokemon, as they were added alongside the game’s latest patch. As someone with Pokemon dating back to 2010 in my collection, it’s awesome to jump into Pokemon Home and finally transfer some of them to the latest games.
While I had a lot to love about Pokemon Scarlet and Violet in my review last year, a key pain point was the game’s abysmal performance. It was a point of controversy at release, and continues to be a massive blemish on the first truly open-world Pokemon experience. I was not expecting The Teal Mask to fix these issues (or address them at all, really) but boy, it’s impossible for me to ignore how awful this game looks and feels at times. The background character and Pokemon models moving at a single-digit framerate, the game struggling to keep up when entering/exiting a town, it honestly made it hard to get through what is a relatively short DLC.
I also didn’t feel too compelled by any of the battles in The Teal Mask. The game cleverly adjusts the DLC area to the levels of the Pokemon in your party, but most of the engagements weren’t all that memorable to me. It’s once again an ironic callback to SV proper, where some of the most climactic battles don’t leave much of an impression.
Just a Lotad better
The Teal Mask is simply more of Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, for better or worse. The new Pokemon are a highlight, and having new trainers to battle and missions to complete is a decent bonus for players that exhausted all of the base game’s content. That said, performance is still a massive hindrance, and there aren’t any compelling new features or mechanics that make it a must-play experience. Sword and Shield’s DLC followed a similar path, so here’s hoping that The Indigo Disk puts a solid button on The Hidden Treasure of Area Zero.