Game Freak is rolling out another big update to Pokémon Scarlet and Violet at the end of the month, and while there’s some attention being given to the games’ notorious performance issues, the solution the studio has gone with will fundamentally change certain aspects of the open-world RPG. Specifically, the team is looking to lower the amount of Pokémon it puts on screen at a time, which means that fewer will spawn at a time. This has big implications for shiny hunting.
According to the patch notes, this change is meant to reduce game crashes, especially in highly populated areas. As a result, “there may be a reduction of Pokémon and people displayed in certain towns or in the wild.” Just how many Pokémon will show up in certain areas is unknown at this point, and it will likely not become clear just how much this change affects things until the patch is out at the end of February. But for people trying to catch shiny Pokémon (rare critters who have an alternate color palette), this could be a big change. Shiny Pokémon are found at a standard rate of one in every 4096 encounters, and while this rate can be increased by using sandwiches and obtaining the Shiny Charm after completing the Pokédex, fewer spawning Pokémon means fewer chances to find these rarities around Scarlet and Violet’s open world.
The update itself isn’t out yet, but if you’re a person who likes their current shiny odds and don’t mind the game crashing on you a little bit more, you can get around this by circumventing the update altogether. On your Switch’s home screen, go to the Settings menu and scroll all the way down to the System menu. Near the bottom you’ll see an option for Auto-Update Software. If you have this set to “On,” your Switch will automatically download an update as soon as it’savailable. In most cases, this is a good thing, because it means you’ll have less wait time to start up your game as the update will already be installed next time you turn on the console. However, if you’re trying to avoid an update like this one, turning this off will allow you to manually update games and apps on a case-by-case basis, rather than always being up-to-date on your patches.
If you’re someone who has stumbled upon this page after the Scarlet and Violet update has gone live and have mistakenly downloaded the update without realizing how it might affect something like shiny hunting, unfortunately, there’s not a ton you can do at this point. If you’ve played the game and made a new save, the save is now hard locked to the latest patch. If you own a physical copy of the game, uninstalling it from your system and deleting patch data will allow you to play an older version of the game as long as you don’t redownload the update, but your save won’t be compatible with it.
As you can imagine, there are some drawbacks to this, as well. Refusing to download the patch will block you from using any of the game’s online features, such as co-op, trading, and battling. So whether or not it’s worth skipping out on the patch to make shiny hunting easier is really just a matter of prioritizing what matters most to you. The update doesn’t have a hard release date yet, with the patch notes only saying it’s planned for the end of February. If you’re still unsure about what you want to do, maybe go ahead and turn off automatic updates now, so you don’t regret it later.