Pokemon Legends: Arceus is shaping up to be a massive shift in how we play, catch, and train our Pocket Monsters. With so many new features and experiences awaiting in the Hisui Region (later known as Sinnoh), we are filled to the brim with excitement and anticipation to jump in and join the fun.
With as much we have to look forward to, there are also some marginally large concerns we have for the game that we can’t help but think about, especially after seeing this week’s Pokemon Presents event. But before we get to that, if you have yet to watch the latest trailer, go ahead and do so.
Some truly great and notable things that you can see in the trailer are, of course, among the more obvious such as the “open-world” concept. PL:A looks to be far more open than Sword and Shield’s Wild Area, more specifically, the game looks like one giant Wild Area, which we love. However, the graphics surrounding this concept and the way it has been implemented leave much to be desired. Consider that open games like Skyrim can run beautifully (for the most part) on a Switch, and given how much more polished Breath of the Wild looks than this title, we can’t help but feel that the game is lacking. But more on that later.
In addition to the open-world concept, it seems that your player character, the trainer of your choosing (male or female) can take damage from incoming Pokemon attacks which will add a whole new dynamic to what it means to be a trainer of the elemental beasts. We first caught a glimpse of the player character being more involved in one of the earlier trailers after witnessing the trainer do a dive-roll from one patch of grass to another in order to avoid being detected by wild Pokemon. From there, we knew that the trainer would be more involved in this new gaming experience rather than relying on their Pokemon to do all the work. With the trainer being able to interact with the larger world around them and be attacked by Pokemon, there are a lot of possibilities here. We just hope that there are, in fact, more actual possibilities implemented in the game rather than the few we have seen in the promo materials.
Hisui is home to many fan-favorite Pokemon that fans will immediately recognize, including your three starters. There will also be regional Pokemon forms exclusive to Hisui, or more specifically, this time period as the story takes place in the distant past. Hisuian Growlithe as a Fire/Rock Type, which you can see below, is a welcome addition as is a new means of water transport in Basculin, which also gets a new form called Basculeigon. That’s not all, as Braviary also gets a new regional form with a new typeset as a Psychic/Flying Type (pictures below). Even though these three regional forms were shown, we assume there will be more to come as we get closer to the release window.
New forms for classic Pokemon won’t be all that we get, as some Pokemon will have the ability to evolve in this time period such as Stantler, who will be able to evolve into a Normal/Psychic Type known as Wyrdeer. Just like Basculegion across the water, players can ride Pokemon like Wyrdeer across the land, though we don’t know how restrictive this travel method will be just yet.
Of course, there is more to any Pokemon game than just catching your favorite monsters- you have to battle with them, too. Something unique to PL:A at this time is a whole new varied style of battle that not only incorporates the trainer (as we said earlier, they can take damage), but the battle sequence seems to be more dynamic and in the moment meaning where you encounter the Pokemon is where you fight rather than having a generic arena and backdrop replace where you are standing with your Pokemon. See a wild Pokemon? Throw your PokeBall at it to catch it or throw your own Pokemon near it to initiate a battle that kicks off instantly. The turn-based battle style is still here but with some changes in style, specifically “Strong” style and “Agile” style which changes stats on certain moves based on the conditions of the battle taking place. While this is sort of vague at first glance, some stats will allow Pokemon to attack multiple times in a row, something that we noticed Ash Ketchum does constantly in the anime (they don’t play by turn-based game rules). More on that at a later date.
We also know that Pokemon Legends: Arceus will get Pokemon Home support at some point in 2022. If you don’t know what Pokemon Home is, here is a quick refresh from the official Pokemon website:
Pokémon HOME is a cloud service for Nintendo Switch and compatible mobile devices designed as a place where all Pokémon can gather. By linking the same Nintendo Account to both the Nintendo Switch version and mobile version of Pokémon HOME, you’ll be able to access the same Pokémon Boxes on both versions!
In other news, Nintendo has confirmed that those who pre-order, something we do not condone but are tempted to do, will receive a special cosmetic outfit called “Hisuian Growlithe Kimono”. Check it out:
Pokémon Legends: Arceus arrives on #NintendoSwitch 1/28/22!
— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) August 18, 2021
Earlier on, we also got a look at the new PokeBalls but during the event, we were introduced to another classic, the Great Ball. But that won’t be all. Other capture balls will likely be available to obtain beyond that of the Great Ball, of which we can confirm the existence of the Heavy Ball, which players can receive 30 of if they purchase PL:A on the Nintendo eShop by May 9th of next year.
— Serebii.net (@SerebiiNet) August 18, 2021
The game truly does make us believe that we are headed in a ‘Breath of the Wild‘ type of direction (though many have suggested it’s closer to Monster Hunter, which does make more sense), something fans have wanted years before that Zelda game came out. Players will be able to camp, take quests from villagers, experience the world in a full day/night cycle, and so much more we have yet to uncover However, we have to be honest with ourselves on this- Pokemon: Legends Arceus just isn’t quite there. But this is not meant to suggest that we aren’t looking forward to the game, because we are. We just felt as if Game Freak may have been cutting some corners here, at least visually from what we can tell.
“Pokémon Legends: Arceus is something the Pokémon community has been begging Niantic to create for several years. While the company did finally deliver an RPG set in the world of Pokémon, the game’s trailer leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. The graphics give me flashbacks to the PS2/GameCube era and the design seems lazy to me. Perhaps if the game ever arrives on PC I’ll purchase it, but only if it’s on sale on Steam. Personally, I feel like Niantic let the Pokémon community down and the whole game’s creation was mishandled.”
“Pokémon Legends: Arceus could be a promising refresh of the Pokémon formula — it just doesn’t really look like it yet. No frills-graphics aside, the basic open-world mechanics and obvious Breath of the Wild influence just haven’t popped or caught my eye yet. I’m hoping to see some unique, Pokémon-driven ideas in the trailers to come, but for now, I’m not hyped. I am hyped for Wyrdeer though — more gen 2 evolutions, please!”
For the most part, it has been very clear in their presentation and in actual interviews over the years that Game Freak simply did not want to and practically refused to adopt and embrace the full RPG experience. Whether that was their choice or The Pokemon Company’s, or even Nintendo’s is not something we can state with full confidence but regardless, it is nice to see them finally headed in this direction. We just hope we aren’t too old for them to fully embrace this concept and create a truly immersive RPG experience that dwarfs the likes of Breath of the Wild and Skyrim.