New Year, New Pokémon Game: Thoughts and Hopes for Legends: Arceus
Welcome back, Pokémon trainers! The arrival of 2022 is exciting for Pokémon fans everywhere because the newest game, Pokémon Legends: Arceus, comes out on January 28. This game diverges from the standard Pokémon formula in numerous ways, and many people, including me, are excited to see so much brand new content from a Pokémon game. In this article, I will discuss some of the videos released on the Pokémon YouTube channel and talk about my feelings about what I want to see in this game.
The most valuable source of information we have is the 13-minute-long gameplay preview released on January 13 of this year. The new battle and catching mechanics greatly intrigue me. The first big departure from the majority of main series Pokémon games is that interaction with wild Pokémon begins in the overworld. The Let’s Go games as well as Sword and Shield do have overworld Pokémon, but the main method of encountering wild Pokémon is still running around in grass, a cave, or on water to trigger an encounter. In this game, there seems to be no tall grass; all encounters appear and begin in the overworld. This shift in gameplay creates a more “realistic” experience. People on the internet have made jokes for years about giant Pokémon hiding in knee-high grass, but now all Pokémon will be out in their natural environment.
We are finally seeing Pokémon interact with their own kind, an action that did not happen even in the more recent games that had overworld Pokémon. The video showed Bidoof and Starly in packs, a small yet appreciated detail. I would like to see cross-species interactions as well. Pokédex entries mention these interactions frequently, but we never get to observe them in-game. I want to see wild Pokémon fighting and helping each other. I also want to see wild Pokémon interacting with their environment through actions such as nesting or foraging. I was interested in the Pokémon “temperaments” discussed in the preview. Some Pokémon are afraid of the player, some do not care, and some are aggressive. These behaviors give the Pokémon personality and change your strategies for approaching them.
My favorite part of the new encounter mechanics is the player character’s involvement in Pokémon battles. For twenty years, trainers have stood unmoving and unharmed on the sidelines as their Pokémon battle. Now, wild Pokémon can harm the player, who will black out if they take too much damage. Trainers can dodge a Pokémon’s attack in the overworld with an action similar to a Kingdom Hearts dodge roll. These attacks add a lot more strategy to catching aggressive Pokémon because the player must either sneak around it or avoid all of its attacks. When you send out your own Pokémon to fight against an opponent, the battle occurs in the overworld instead of a separate screen like in all other Pokémon games.
Within these battles, there are more new mechanics. Each move has three variations: standard, strong and agile. Standard moves are the same as moves in other Pokémon games. Strong moves are more powerful, but your Pokémon will be inactive for longer afterward. Agile moves are the opposite; they are weaker, but your Pokémon can attack again sooner. These special variations consume more PP. All main series Pokémon games are turn-based, so I am curious about how this more time-based system will work. The closest system I’ve seen in a Pokémon game is in the mystery dungeon games where increasing your speed allows you to take more actions per turn. I think this new mechanic will make Pokémon battles more dynamic than simply picking your strongest move every turn.
The most interesting aspects of the new wild battles that I noticed were the alpha and the noble Pokémon. Alpha Pokémon are Pokémon with red eyes that are much larger and stronger than usual. Catching these Pokémon will require learning all the new skills that I previously mentioned. The big question is whether these Pokémon remain stronger when you catch them. If so, I think they will be very fun and worthy to use; otherwise, they can still be fun catching challenges. The noble Pokémon are even more interesting. They seem to be special Pokémon that protect certain areas of Hisui; Kleavor is the only one we’ve seen so far. However, they have somehow become enraged. You have to dodge their attacks and throw balms at them to give your Pokémon openings to attack. These battles are the closest thing to action-RPG boss fights that I’ve seen in a Pokémon game. All these features will make Pokémon battles feel more immersive than ever.
I also want to discuss the openworld. We have not gotten to see too much of Hisui, but what we have seen looks expansive and beautiful. I do not know whether you will be able to go wherever you want immediately or whether the game will unlock areas for you one at a time. I think the former would be more fun. Trainers could challenge themselves as much or little as they want, and a truly open world would give the game more replayability. The world looks gorgeous. I am looking forward to the return of riding Pokémon as well. The only mounts we’ve seen so far are Wyrdeer, Hisuian Braviary and Basulegion, but I hope that there are more of them, similar to the Let’s Go games. Legends: Arceus will also implement two more features new to the main series games: crafting and quests. You can gather materials with your Pokémon in the field that you can use to craft items like Pokeballs and potions. NPCs will give you quests to complete for a certain reward. The example shown in the video involves the player catching a Shinx to show to a man in Jubilife Village. These new gameplay features remind me of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, another open world that I enjoyed, so I have high hopes for Legends: Arceus.
The gameplay preview and other, smaller videos from 2021 cannot show everything, of course, so I have many lingering questions. The game is named after the Pokémon Arceus, the creator of the universe, but I have seen no obvious hints of its role in the game. I am also curious about the possible roles that Dialga and Palkia will play. They are heavily alluded to with the diamond and pearl clans, which advocate for spending time with loved ones and sharing the world’s space. However, their roles in the story are unknown. Almost every character revealed so far resembles an existing character. Only a few examples are Cyllene to Cyrus, Kamado to Rowan, and Volo to Cynthia. The connection that surprised me was Lian to Clay because the latter is from Unova, not Sinnoh (Hisui is the Sinnoh of the past). I am interested in seeing if these characters share more traits than their appearance. I wonder what the role of the Galaxy Expedition Team is. The team is a clear reference to Team Galactic, the evil team of Sinnoh. Maybe it is entirely good, but the connection makes me ask if there will be tinges of evil involved. The trailers have given nothing on who or what the villain of this game is, so I’m thinking of possible answers. Luckily, all my unanswered questions will have answers soon.
These were almost all of my thoughts and questions about Pokémon Legends: Arceus. I don’t think that we will receive much new information in the next few weeks since the game comes out so soon. I am really excited, and I hope that you trainers are, too. Thank you so much for reading my article, and I’ll be back soon with more Pokémon content!