I have a bazillion clones of many different prefabs I need to load at beginning of game. This causes a huge wait time to instantiate everything into the pool. Is there a way to load essentials then asynchronously load the rest so the game can start quicker. One hack I thought of is to manually clone tons of copies of a certain prefab in the scene, and deactivate them, but then I can't despawn them lol.
No. That's how pooling works. Instead of taking up time during the Scene for Instantiates, you take it all up at the beginning. If it was asynchronous everything would be sluggish until it finishes anyway.
You can show a "game tip", loading screen or something during that time.