How to improve performance in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet - FPS fixes

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Two Slowpoke loafing around in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet.
November 25, 2022: We've added some clarifications to the idea of installing the game to system memory. Give it a try.

Struggling with performance drops, lag spikes, and generally low FPS in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet? You're not alone, and we have a couple of ways you can alleviate and mitigate the issues in this quick look at how to improve performance in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet so that playing it isn't like wading through mud.

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A lot of the performance issues in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet are down to poor optimization choices, but the severity of them does to seem to depend on your Nintendo Switch model, age, and whether it's docked or undocked during play. Even still, the fixes we'll outline below should have a positive effect no matter your circumstances.

For more on the new generation of Pokemon games, check out our popular guides on how to get and evolve Gimmighoul, how to farm shiny Pokemon, and how to get Ditto relatively early in the game. That last one can help you breed Pokemon, like your starter, to trade for others.

How to increase fps and fix lag in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet

If your copy of Pokemon Scarlet or Violet is stuttering, freezing, or just running at a low FPS as you play, you'll likely notice the issues get worse and worse the longer your session goes on.

These symptoms are classic signs of a game with a memory leak issue, which is generally indicative of poor optimization, improper coding, and a generally disappointing quality assurance process forced by a game that needed to be out on time.

Sadly, it's a relatively common issue with recent mainline Pokemon games - all of which need to be ready and shipped in line with new merchandise, anime episodes, and a bunch of other products that make the whole franchise spin.

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Thankfully, though, there are a couple of ways to fix the Pokemon Scarlet and Violet performance issues without praying for a patch.

The map in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet.

Force a load screen

Whenever you're starting to notice Pokemon Scarlet and Violet fps drops get really bad, just get yourself over to a town, village, city, or anything else that forces a loading screen.

What this does is essentially unload all of the open-world details that have built up in the system memory over the minutes or hours you've been wandering around as the game decides to dump it in favour of loading all the details of the closed space you enter instead.

Once you leave again, you should notice a decent performance boost in the open-world area compared to how it was prior to the reset. Things will build up and slow down again as you tirelessly explore the fields of Paldea, but you only need to head to a town, or even through a door into a house, again to speed the game up once more.

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If you want to really force a memory flush and get the game back up to speed again, just save, close the game, and boot it back up again. It's a bit of a chore, but it's the best way to keep the experience running smoothly if you find the performance drops ruin the fun.

Zorua and Zoruark in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet.

Play docked or undocked

The jury is out on this one, as it seems model-specific, but if you're noticing severe Pokemon Scarlet and Violet performance issues when playing the game docked on a TV, try handheld mode to see if it fixes the issue. Likewise, if you're in handheld mode, try docking the system.

The reason for this varies, but the Nintendo Switch runs faster while docked both because it doesn't have to worry about the battery and because it's likely rendering the game at a higher resolution for your TV. This can both boost and hinder performance in select circumstances, so it's best to try both to see what works best.

In most cases, we expect older hardware to perform better in handheld mode. When docked, it can run hotter because of the increased speed, with aged components and thermal paste potentially causing the system to overheat and throttle performance.

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On newer systems, like the Switch OLED, running faster docked might help it push through some of the game's optimization issues instead.

An NPC in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet.

Lower the resolution

You won't be able to control this while undocked, but for the points raised above, forcing your system into 720p mode through the Switch settings while docked (as opposed to 1080p) will make the game generally run like it's undocked, but with the power boost of the dock there to help.

It won't look very good on a big TV, but it can help it run more smoothly.

How to install Pokemon Scarlet and Violet to system memory.

Install the game to system memory

This option is only available to those with a digital copy of the game. There's no hard evidence to suggest how well this improves things, but Twitter users are convinced that it makes a noticeable difference.

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The trick is to simply move Pokemon Scarlet and Violet from an SD Card to your Nintendo Switch's system memory. This theoretically can optimize the path for game assets to load into (and be dumped from) the console's limited RAM, making everything happen a little faster.

It's not something you'd typically notice with most Nintendo Switch games, but large open-world experiences like these with a lot of loading happening at the drop of a hat can benefit from using faster internal storage over SD cards of varying speeds.

So, if you installed your copy of the game to an SD Card, you might want move it to system memory instead - you might just have to move a few titles around.

To do this, you just need to go into the Data Management option menu on your system. From there, you should see a way to move game data locations. Move Pokemon Scarlet and Violet from the SD Card to the system memory, reboot your machine, and see if it makes a difference.

Assuming you don't need to redownload anything, this should only take around five minutes to try, and you won't lose your save data. For physical carts, you want to move the Day One Patch data to your system memory if it isn't there already.

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For even more Pokemon pieces, check out what the Pokemon Scarlet and Violet post game content is like. Knowing what you're headed towards can see you through the performance woes. Then check out the best Pokemon Scarlet and Violet EXP farm locations, too. It's a tough adventure, but grinding levels will always help.