It is likely that some Pokémon abilities may be cut in the upcoming Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. Currently, there are 266 different abilities introduced over the years. Traditionally, the series has been fairly consistent with bringing back the mechanics, Pokémon, moves, and abilities of past games. However, as of Sword and Shield’s controversial “Dexit” decision, Gamefreak has switched to featuring a limited number of Pokémon to save on the number of resources spent per game. There’s no reason they couldn’t start removing abilities as well.
One good justification for removing abilities is for game balance. For example, Gorilla Tactics, which gives a massive 50% boost to Galarian Darmanitan’s already monstrous 160 attack stat at the cost of limiting it to one move, could be reasonably removed in the name of game balance. The similar ability Intrepid Sword, exclusive to Pokémon Sword‘s exclusive legendary Zacian, gives it a 50% attack boost without the one move restriction, something so broken that many fans would cheer at its removal. Greninja’s Hidden Ability Protean allows it to change its type to that of any move it uses, giving it incredible versatility and making it hard to play against. Protean and Gorilla Tactics were powerful enough to get their users banned from Smogon’s main tier, OU, for being too powerful. Intrepid Sword managed to get Zacian banned from Ubers, a tier that exists to use banned Pokémon.
Of course, good abilities are vital for making Pokémon great. Other incredible abilities like Regenerator, Shadow Tag, Speed Boost, Contrary, and Sand Veil may be deserving of removal or nerfs for game balance. Although no ability has ever been removed from the game for being too powerful, Gengar’s ability was changed from Levitate to Cursed Body in Sun and Moon for balance reasons. In addition, Sun and Moon gave nerfs to other powerful abilities like Gale Wings, Parental Bond, Aerilate, and Prankster.
Although some fans may prefer Gamefreak to remove hampering abilities like Defeatist, Truant, and Slow Start, this is unlikely to happen. Negative abilities exist to nerf certain overpowered Pokémon and removing them would be horrible for game balance. Interestingly, despite the spinoff Legends: Arceus not featuring abilities, Regigigas still suffers from the effects of Slow Start.
The Pokémon series is filled with abilities that have different names but function identically. For example, the common abilities Battle Armor and Shell Armor both block critical hits. Goodra’s Gooey and Alolan Dugtrio’s Tangled Hair both lower the speed of an opponent when the user is hit with a contact move. Baraskewda’s Propeller Tail and Duraludon’s Stalwart both ignore target redirection. The previously mentioned overpowered ability Protean received an identical counterpart in Sword and Shield called Court Change, which is exclusive to the Galar fire starter Cinderace.
Many identical abilities are given different names for flavor reasons. For example, Wimp Out and Emergency Exit, abilities of Wimpod and Golisopod, are named differently to frame things as a tactical retreat rather than a cowardly one. The ability Huge Power’s Japanese name references Japanese folklore about rabbits, so it is exclusive to rabbit Pokémon like Azumarill and Diggersby. Because Medicham is not a rabbit, its version of Huge Power is instead called Pure Power.
Often, legendaries are given variants of common abilities with different names. Rayquaza’s Air Lock and Psyduck’s Cloud Nine both have the effect of negating weather. Reshiram’s Turboblaze and Zerkrom’s Terabolt have cool names, but are just reskins of the ability Mold Breaker. Spectrier’s Chilling Neigh copies Moxie’s effect of raising attack after knocking out an opponent. Solgaleo, the sun-inspired legendary from Sun and Moon, has the ability Full Metal Body, which prevents stat debuffs from opponents. This functions identically to two different abilities, White Smoke and Clear Body. Similarly, Nectozma’s Prism Armor is identical to Filter and Solid Rock. Lunala’s Shadow Shield is a knock-off of Milotic’s Multiscale.
Other similar abilities include Rough Skin and Iron Barbs, Dazzling and Queenly Majesty, and Receiver and Power of Alchemy. Interestingly, the Pokémon Delibird’s two abilities, Insomnia and Vital Spirit, both have the identical effect of preventing sleep. It’s also worth noting that, while they are not identical. Runerigus’s Wandering Spirit is just a slightly weaker version of Cofagrigus’ Mummy. While removing abilities for being too similar may seem strange, it happened as early as Generation III. In the beta for Ruby and Sapphire, Exploud had the ability Cacophony. Cacophony was replaced with Soundproof because the two abilities were identical.
Pokémon Sword and Shield removed hundreds of Pokémon. Because many abilities are unique to specific Pokémon or families, many abilities did not appear at all in Generation VIII. Unique abilities left behind include Galvanize, Power of Alchemy, Grass Pelt, Dancer, Shields Down, Comatose, and Dazzling. Not all unique abilities were lost in Sword and Shield, though. Bronzong’s Heatproof was given to Rolycoly. Bewear’s Fluffy was given to Dubwool. Berserk, Stakeout, and all four of the Tapu Surge abilities all found new users in Generation VIII.
Abilities tied to generation gimmick-specific Pokémon are unlikely to return. Parental Bond, Primordial Sea, Delta Steam, and Desolate Land only make sense as the abilities of specific Mega Evolution or Primal Reversion Pokémon. Neuroforce is unique to Necrozma’s Ultra form, which can only be accessed with Z-Crystals. Ash Greninja and its unique ability Battle Bond existed as an anime tie-in event that is unlikely to be replicated. Because these Pokémon gimmicks have been left behind, their Pokémon may never return.
Beyond the overpowered abilities, the identical abilities, and the already cut abilities, there are four abilities that absolutely need to be cut or altered in Scarlet and Violet. These include Ball Fetch, Honey Gather, Illuminate, and Run Away. All of these moves share the trait of having absolutely no effect in trainer battles, making them essentially useless. If any abilities need to be cut, these four are the most deserving.
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