Like all Pokémon games before them, the new Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl will allow players to choose one of three different starter Pokémon to take on their adventure.
While it’s not clear yet how each starter’s stats and movesets will be tweaked for this new generation, there are several existing factors we can use to determine which starter is the best to pick in Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl.
Who are Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl’s starter Pokémon?
Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl’s starter Pokémon are the Fire-type Chimchar, the Water-type Piplup, and the Grass-type Turtwig. These are the same starter Pokémon that were in Diamond and Pearl, meaning if you have a favorite starter from those games, you can pick that same one in the remakes.
Abilities and types
In Diamond and Pearl, each of the starter Pokémon has an ability that enhances one type of moves when their HP is at 30 percent or lower. Chimchar has Blaze, which increases the damage of Fire-type moves by a 1.5 multiplier when it reaches that HP threshold. Piplup has Torrent, which increases the damage of Water-type moves by a 1.5 multiplier under the same conditions. Finally, Turtwig has Overgrow, which increases the damage of Grass-type moves by a 1.5 multiplier when its HP falls.
Though it’s not clear yet which Pokémon will be included in Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl’s Pokédex, the original Diamond and Pearl had a startling lack of Fire-type Pokémon. Beyond Chimchar and its evolutions, generation four didn’t feature a lot of Fire-types in the wild. As a result, Chimchar has an advantage with its ability to learn Fire-type moves. Piplup and Turtwig can also learn useful moves, but there are far more Water and Grass-type Pokémon in Sinnoh’s Pokedex that are able to shore up weaknesses in a coordinated team.
In terms of evolutions, all three Pokémon gain an additional type when they evolve. Turtwig’s final evolution, Torterra, becomes a Grass and Ground-type; Empoleon, the final evolution of Piplup, is a Water and Steel-type; and Infernape, Chimchar’s final evolution, is a Fire and Fighting-type, like Blaziken in gen three. Chimchar gains its Fighting-type status when it evolves into Monferno, the middle evolution.
Stats and roles
It’s not clear yet whether the starters’ stats and movesets have been tweaked. But because their typing hasn’t changed, it’s likely they’ll fulfill similar roles in battle to the ones they had in the original days of Diamond and Pearl.
Torterra and Empoleon are both tanks. They have high HP and Defense or Special Defense, respectively. While neither of these Pokémon dish out an extremely high amount of damage or moves very fast, they’re great for stalling out a battle. For example, inflicting an enemy Pokémon with a damaging status condition and then hiding behind Protect or stat-raising moves is a common strategy for tanks. This doesn’t make them any less fun to play than pure attackers—they simply work best with a different strategy.
Infernape, on the other hand, is a strong, speedy attacker. If you’re familiar with Cinderace from Pokémon Sword and Shield, you’ll know the type. Infernape has reasonably balanced Attack and Special Attack stats, meaning players can make it either a physical or special attacker with little difference in its damage. Many players originally criticized Infernape for being too similar in type and strategy to Blaziken, the final evolution of Torchic in gen three, but it’s since carved out its own niche in competitive play.
Gym and Elite Four effectiveness
Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl follow the same Gym structure as their predecessors, so it’s possible to look at each Pokémon’s effectiveness based on how powerful they are against the games’ type-themed facilities.
The first three Gyms in Diamond and Pearl are Rock-type, Grass-type, and Fighting-type. Piplup and Turtwig have a clear advantage in the first Gym thanks to type advantages, but Chimchar takes the lead in the second Gym. None of the three starters have a clear advantage in the third Gym, but by this point, players can generally catch enough additional Pokémon to round out their team and shore up any weaknesses. (Nabbing a Flying-type like Starly early on can help with the Fighting-type Gym.)
The Elite Four are a different situation. They specialize in Bug, Ground, Fire, and Psychic types, respectively. No one starter Pokémon can clear out all of their teams without breaking a sweat, but they do have advantages here and there. Infernape can clear out Aaron’s Bug types and at least has a resistance to Flint’s Fire types. Empoleon is great against those same Fire types as well as Bertha’s Ground types. Torterra can take out Flint’s Fire types with Ground-type moves like Earthquake (though you should be mindful of their Fire-type moves) and is also good against the Ground types.
If you want an easier early game, Turtwig is probably the way to go. It has a type advantage in the first Gym and a resistance to the second Gym, allowing you to build up your team the way you want it without having to worry about major early disadvantages. Piplup and Chimchar become more powerful later on, but you’ll have to wait for their extra types to come into play before you can have a wide range of moves and strategies.
Ultimately, all three of the starters are viable as long as you build a good team around them. If you’re interested in playing competitively, you’ll probably want to take a closer look at each Pokémon’s stats and EVs/IVs in game and make an informed choice based on your planned team composition, but if you’re just looking for a fun adventure, you can’t go wrong with any of them.
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl release on Nov. 19.