Pokémon Legends: Arceus lets you explore a bubbling Sinnoh.
I have a hard time putting into words the feelings I got when I looked at yesterday’s Pokémon Presents, in which we got to glimpse much more of the upcoming game Pokémon Legends: Arceus. I was amazed to say the least. While the announcement made me happy and hopeful, I was instead filled with wonder and happiness to see the progress the game has made and the development the game series takes from classically rooted role-playing to a more open action adventure. This truly looks like the next generation of Pokémon!
In addition to an overview of the beautiful environments we get the opportunity to explore in Hisui (which later came to be called Sinnoh) we got a brief introduction to the game mechanical structures in Pokémon Legends: Arceus. As one of the first explorers in the Sinnoh of that time, you act as a scout and will explore and map the pokémon that live in the region to compile the area’s first pokédex! As a member of the Galaxy Expedition Team, you take on tasks for the expedition before you go out into the wild. Of course, the titular Pokémon – Arceus – plays an important role in the game’s story.
An open world
Mechanically, for the first time, you will interact with Pokémon in completely new ways. In the open landscapes, you may need to sneak up on shy Pokémon to catch and get to know them. Others are instead curious about you and can be approached openly. Of course, many creatures are aggressive and must be weakened before they can be captured. And if you are careless, they can even attack and knock you down!
In the style of the previous game in the series, Pokémon have different habitats and behaviors and to find all of them we will have to make an effort. Time of day as well as weather and nature determine which Pokémon crawl out. And to compile the region’s pokédex, it is not enough to just capture the creatures, they must be defeated in a special way and you also need to see their various attacks to be able to expand the log. Hopefully there are also interesting non-combat criteria.
During your travels in the wilderness, you will find a variety of resources that you can then use to construct useful items in your camp. In the trailer, we see examples of a pokéball, but we also know of smoke bombs that the player can use to create a veil of smoke that makes it easier to sneak up on pokémon. The game mechanic potential in this is breathtaking – even if in other games it is old cupboard food.
What was not said in the presentation is that we will have a colleague during the adventure. Of the two selectable characters, named Akari and Rei, the character you do not choose becomes a colleague of the Galaxy Exploration Team. What this means is unclear. In all likelihood, it is not a possible multiplayer feature, as I doubt that the Nintendo Switch is capable of multiplayer in such a large game as Arceus. However, the character may play an important role in the story, as other side characters have done in previous Pokémon games.
New combat system
Where in previous Pokémon games it has been strictly turn-based Pokémon Legends: Arceus a step into the modern by adopting a more fluid combat system. In Arceus, the different characteristics of Pokémon determine how many actions they are allowed to perform in relation to the opponent. Is your Pokémon incredibly fast, maybe it can act twice every other round compared to the slower opponent. This system is accompanied by a new combat mechanic: Strong Style and Agile Style.
Strong Style makes the attack stronger at the expense of its speed, while Agile Style on the contrary makes the attack faster at the expense of its strength. What these do is give the player more strategic choices during a battle to modify your Pokémon’s action sequence. For example, you can prepare a specific combination of attacks using Agile Style, for example with Toxic which poisons the opponent followed by Venoshock which does much more damage if the opponent is already poisoned. Strong Style can be used to advantage to easily defeat weaker opponents in one battle. It may sound like a simple thing, but if you include other underlying features such as objects Pokémon can hold, support from other Pokémon in your team and terrain modifications is something that faster and slower attacks are a significant addition to an already advanced combat system.
New charismatic Pokémon
Quiet my heart! Hisuian Growlithe, I choose you! The little dog has probably taken the entire internet by storm. Growlithe, which we recognize as a type of fire, has in Hisuni adapted to become a type of fire and stone. With its fluffy fur, it is reminiscent of a classic Asian dog that often adorns older buildings in Japan and China. It has a stone horn that it “only uses when it is most effective as it breaks easily” – it should be interpreted as simple attacks such as Tackle get a stone function if Hisuian Growlithe fights a Pokémon that is weak against Stone?
Furthermore, Hisuian Growlithe can also indirectly mean that there is a Hisuian evolution linked to this pokémon. Exciting!
Otherwise, we see a Hisuian development of Basculin – Basculegion, which is the result of a Basculin that absorbs the souls of the fish in its shoal and turns it into a strong water and ghost type. The souls of its relatives strengthen it and make the Basculegion tireless. Furthermore, we see more other Hisuian developments such as Braviary and Wyrdeer (completely new development). Both Braiviary and Basculegion can be used to travel through the air and over water respectively.
What more unique pokémon are waiting for Pokémon Legends: Arceus? The wait today feels almost unbearable!