There is no shortage of great Pokémon in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. Especially in the late game, you’re flooded with picks of greatness. Aside from the (pseudo) legends and paradox Pokémon, the ever-further opening up open-world simply gives you a larger pool to pick from. Still, adding a late-game Pokémon to your team comes with its issues. Sometimes you have to level up a super low-level Pokémon to match the others. Maybe a new Pokémon throws your carefully crafted team off-balance. Nonetheless, there are huge benefits to building a team with strong Pokémon you can catch early in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. And the game offers plenty of choices.
In this guide, I’ll break down some great types you can pick up early and which can easily grow to take out late-game challenges. All of them are up for the job. I’ll mostly break the options down by typing, so you can see for yourself what you need. The easiest and most reliable early pick you can get is your starter, so the rest of your team depends on your choice there.
An Early Ghost: Dreepy / Gastly
Ghost-types are great at the start of the game. They are completely immune to the very common Normal-type. What’s more, Ghost-types can flee without fail from wild battles and cannot be trapped on the battlefield with moves or abilities. It’s safe to say that an early Ghost-type makes the game a lot easier, by the simple logic that if they can’t hit you, but you can hit them, you’re probably going to win. And there are some great types around.
Dreepy is not only a Ghost-type, but it also has the potent Dragon-type, which always hits hard. Although Dreepy can’t make much of its dragon typing at the start of the game, it can learn the powerful Dragon Tail attack. Its eventual evolutions Drakloak (at level 50) and Dragapult (at level 60) hit very hard, too. What’s even better is that it resists both Bug- and Grass-types – which just so happen to be the first two gyms of the game. Although it’s a rare find, its habitat is distributed widely throughout Paldea. You can catch one early on in the marshy parts of Area Five. The easiest way to get there is to go through Area Three.
If you don’t want to wait until level 50 to evolve Dreepy into a better Pokémon, Gastly is a very viable early Ghost-type option. Of course, if you play Pokémon Scarlet, it’s the more logical option anyhow. With its four-times resistance to Bug-types and double resistance to Grass-types, it’s a great pick for the early game. It has access to the STAB (Same Type Attack Bonus) move Lick, and gains access to hypnosis at level 4. It evolves Haunter at a much earlier level, 25. Of course, to get the powerful Gengar, you need a friend to trade with. In contrast to Dreepy, it’s much easier to find. It’s widespread throughout Area One, but it only appears at night.
Flaming Power: Houndour / Growlithe / Charcadet
Fire-types are great. They do a lot of damage, are immune to being burnt, and have phenomenal coverage against early-game opponents. With the first two gym leaders being bug and grass, a Fire-type makes quick work of everything. Of course, if you didn’t pick Fuecoco, you may want to consider having some fire coverage on your team.
Houndour is one of the few Pokémon you’ll know exactly where to find. Simply hop down into the Inland Grotto which you first traveled through with Koraidon or Myraidon, and there are plenty of them. With great access to stab moves like Ember and Bite at level 16, it’s a logical pick. It evolves into Houndoom at the very low 24. With its high special attack and speed, that’s going to be a force to be reckoned with.
If you’re willing to travel a little bit further, you can find yourself a Growlithe. Although not really an early catch in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, its immense power is certainly worth going out of your way for. Its stats are nothing to laugh at, especially if you give it a Fire Stone and evolve into an Arcanine. Arcanine has one of the highest total base stats of any non-starter and non-legendary Pokémon. You can find a Growlithe by traveling through the canyon just west of Artazon, in Area Three.
If you’re particularly keen on using new Pokémon, you can decide to find yourself a Charcadet. This Pokémon lives about everywhere in Paldea, but it is as rare as it is widespread. So it may take you some time to find one. However, that’s completely worth it. Its evolutions, Amarouge and Ceruledge, are both extremely powerful. Even better is that Charcadet and its evolutions have access to the ability Flash Fire, which powers up Fire-type move when hit by a Fire-type move, instead of taking damage from it. You should read all about this strange Pokémon in our guide!
A Hard Hitter: Slakoth
Normal-types are real powerhouses. With their STAB on some of the most common moves in the early game, Normal-types tend to hit harder than anything else in this phase of the game. There are plenty of Normal-type to pick from, but some just put others to shame.
Slakoth is ridiculously powerful, but also ridiculously rare. In itself, it’s not too powerful. However, its evolutions, Vigoroth at level 18 and Slaking at level 36, hit extremely hard. Slaking is among legendaries with its base stat total. However, as some players may know, Slakoth and Slaking suffer from the horrible ability truant. Truant causes your Pokémon to skip every other turn. So if you plan on wielding it in battle, a sound strategy is in order. Vigoroth, on the other hand, has the ability Vital Spirit. This prevents your Pokémon from falling asleep.
These are extremely powerful Normal-types. However, obtaining them is a hassle. While Slakoths live in Area One, it lives near exclusively up trees. To bonk one down, you first need to defeat the Titan Pokémon Klawf, which sits in the middle of Area Three. A solid Grass- or Water-type will take it down easily since it’s only level 16. Once you beat it, you can let Koraidon or Myraidon dash, which knocks Pokémon off trees. That’s not to say it will be easy to get one. But if you make the right sandwiches, you can boost the appearance rate of Normal-types. Check out our ultimate sandwich guide on that!
A Quick Pick: Pawmi
I’d say Ghost-types are my favorite, but I would be lying. That’s because Electric-types exist. With their generally high speed and attack, lack of weaknesses, and their immunity to paralysis, an Electric-type is always an asset to any team.
One of the easiest Electric-types you can get right off the bet is Pawmi. This fluffy little Pikachu clone is found throughout Area One, and although it is a bit rare, you won’t have too much trouble running into one and catching it. Having a Pokémon that can inflict a status condition right away is always useful, both for battles and for combat. But Pawmi’s evolutions are the reason why this Pokémon is worth getting. It evolves into Pawmo at level 18, and into Pawmot after walking a thousand steps. Find out how to do these 1000 steps in our Let’s Go evolution guide! With its dual Electric/Fighting-type, Pawmot is a very fast and powerful offensive threat that can do serious damage to many teams.
A Special T(h)reat: Smoliv
Grass-types are great. Not only are they immune to powder and spore moves but can they not be hit by the annoying Leech Seed. Still, Grass-types tend to draw the short end of the stick due to their pretty common weaknesses, including against Flying-types. However, a solid Grass-type can be an enormous threat to any team that hinges on Water-, Rock-, or Ground-types.
That Grass-type is Smoliv. It’s very easy to find due to where specific it is – it’s very common in the olive fields around Cortondo in Area Two. Although it’s weak to Bug-types, it evolves into a fantastic Pokémon to use against later trainers. With its Normal-type STAB coverage and access to nice Grass-type moves like Mega Drain and Seed Bomb, Smoliv isn’t to be taken lightly. After it evolves into Dolliv at level 25 and Arboliva at level 35, it becomes a powerful special attack and defense user with lots of good moves at its disposal.
The Ever-solid Pick-up: Ralts
Psychic-types and Fairy-types are phenomenal picks for any team. Although they have their weaknesses and lack unique abilities other types have, their large move pool and resistance to major offensive threats make them a great choice. Wouldn’t it be great if both types could fit into one Pokémon?
That’s exactly where Ralts comes in. From its first appearance in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire to now, Ralts has always been a rare early catch, and in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, that’s no different. It starts weak, but once it evolves into Kirlia at level 20 and Gardevoir at level 30, it proves its worth quickly. Moves like Moonblast, Psychic and Calm Mind serve Gardevoir very well. Of course, if you need Fighting-type, you can always choose to evolve a male Kirlia into Gallade by using a Dawn Stone. You can find Ralts in Area One, near Los Platos. But like with Slakoth and Pawmi, you’re going to have to look very closely.
Immune to Its Weakness: Paldean Wooper
I’ve never been a huge fan of Ground-types since I really like Electric-types. Still, there’s no denying that Ground-types offer some phenomenal boosts to a team. With moves like Earthquake at their disposal, be sure to pick one up before taking on gym leaders like Iono.
There are few things better in Pokémon than the ability to turn a weakness into an immunity. Yet, that’s exactly what Paldean Wooper can do, should it have the ability Water Absorb. Paldean Wooper has access to great Ground-type moves, as well as Poison-types. So aside from the great Ground-type moves, Paldean Wooper can also use poison to take down other threats. Its level 20 evolution, Clodsire, is a defensive beast with a whopping 130 base HP stat. So if you’re ever in the market for a great type combination that can pack a punch, Paldean Wooper should be your pick. It can immediately be found by looking around in ponds, wetlands, and swamps in Area One.
The Beach is Always Great: Finizen
I don’t know about you, but beaches are an area that I often forget about. In Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, the beaches are behind the path of linear progression, so it’s easy to forget about them. And that’s a shame because there are powerful Water-types to be caught.
If you spend some time on the beach in Area Four, there’s a good chance you can find the supremely powerful Finizen. This cute Pokémon is fine, but what makes it truly special is its evolution, Palafin. To get one, you need to level it to level 39 and link up with at least one other friend. It has the crazy ability Zero to Hero, which lets it change form. Hero Palafin is one of the craziest Pokémon in the entire franchise, rivaling many legendaries and mega-evolutions. It will always hit very, very hard.
Feathered Friends for the First Gyms: Fletchling / Starly
How great is the Flying-type in this game? Not only can you catch these Pokémon easily early on, but they are also super effective against the first two gyms! And decent Flying-type moves aren’t very hard to get. What’s more, they come with a free immunity!
Fletchling is an obvious candidate for an early pick. It evolves into the Fire/Flying-types Fletchinder (at level 17) and Talonflame (at level 35). Fire and Flying both do very well against the first two gyms, so don’t hesitate to pick one up. You can usually just find them loafing around in Area One north of Los Platos, so that’s a freebie!
If you already have a Fire-type and looking for some additional bulk and speed, you should get yourself a Starly. They’re just as common, around Area One and Area Four. Starly and its evolutions Staravia (level 14) and Staraptor (level 34) don’t suffer from fire weaknesses and do just a bit more damage than the Talonflame line. Still, if you need a bird, these two are very solid picks.
Fast ‘n Furious: Scyther
Bug-types tend to be a little overshadowed. And let’s be real, there are a lot of low-level Bug-types. They often appear early in the game, what role can a Bug-type really play in the late game? Plenty! They are a great counter to the powerful Dark- and Psychic-types, for instance.
A great Bug-type that you can find early on is Scyther. With STAB moves like X-Scissor and Air Slash, your opponents will quickly regret having laughed at the Bug-type. What’s more, by trading it with a friend while holding a Metal Coat (which you can get from Delibird’s Presents in Levincia), it evolves into the Bug/Steel-type Scizor, a powerful physical threat with access to the priority move Bullet Punch. You can catch a Scyther early in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet by heading over to Area Four and finding it near water and bamboo groves.
A Rock-Solid Pick: Nacli
Of course, I can’t forget the final type still left to discuss. With their resistance to Normal-type moves, Rock-types have a great early game ace up their sleeves. Although they are weak to a couple of very common attacks.
Nacli is a defensive beast that’s very commonly found just east of Mesagoza, where you can very easily catch it. Although this little salty rock may not look like much, it evolves to become one of the best physical defenders in the game. When it evolves into Naclstack at level 24 and Garganacl at level 38, it has a base physical defense stat of 130. What’s more, its ability Purifying Salt keeps it from obtaining status conditions. No toxic stalls against this one!
And there you have it, the best early game Pokemon to catch in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet! Did you catch any of these early on, or are you planning on using them? Did I miss any great early encounters? Let me know in the comments.