The formula for Pokémon games has gone relatively unaltered since they burst onto the scene in the late 90s. The protagonist gets their starter Pokémon and follows set routes around the region as they battle gyms and fill up their Pokédex. Except for the addition of a couple of shiny new mechanics, this has been the layout for pretty much every game. Now, however, there’s a new kid on the block: Pokemon Legends: Arceus. Due for release on January 28th, Legends: Arceus is set in the Hisui region (an ancient Sinnoh). This new addition to the family takes a greater leap towards true open-world gaming than previous generations.
While Legends: Arceus isn’t the fully open-world experience many may have hoped for, it does seem much freer than in past games. Fans who played Sword and Shield will be familiar with the Wild Areas that populated Galar which are packed with Pokémon. Unlike the gen 7 games, battles will take place out in the open, with no change between the overworld and the battle. Another big change comes in how the battles work. In the past, battles would take place with each participant taking an action. Now, each Pokémon will get a set number of actions per turn depending on a set of factors, such as their stats. This turns battling on its head and can allow for a whole new way to battle.
The turn order isn’t the only thing that’s been shaken up. Pokémon Legends: Arceus also introduces Styles. Each move has two Styles, Agile and Strong. When battling you can choose to use a move in either one of these Styles. Agile will boost the users speed but lowers the move’s power whereas Strong does the opposite. This, combined with the new turn order, really changes how battles will go down. This shake-up will make playing this game a totally new experience.
As you travel around the Hisui region looking to complete your Pokédex you’ll undoubtedly run into a lot of Pokémon. While many of these will be friendly, there are some you will need to keep an eye out for. These are the Alphas. Not only are these Pokémon superpowered, they’re also supersized. While battling them will be tough, the rewards can be great, especially if you manage to catch them.
Catching ‘mons will also prove a fair bit trickier than before. Pokémon may be wandering around in the overworld, but you’ll have to sneak up on them so as not to scare them away. This can involve crouching in grass, behind boulders, or using smoke bombs to keep yourself hidden. This will become second nature to you as you undertake the mammoth task of completing the Pokédex. A simple enough task in the past, getting those Pokédex entries has just gotten a whole lot more difficult. Unlike before, catching just one type of Pokémon won’t be enough to complete its entry. You’ll be given a set of tasks to fill out the entry. These tasks range from catching a set number of the species to registering its different forms. This will pose a real challenge, even to the most seasoned player. Completing these tasks will also grant you access to new and exciting areas across the map to explore.
Snorlax, Use Rest!
All this adventuring can be rather exhausting, especially if you’re taking on Alpha Pokémon left, right, and centre. To help you out, across the region are Surveying Outposts. While you’re out on your research you can stop at any of these to rest or to craft items, such as smoke bombs or Pokéballs. These Outposts will prove invaluable on your tasks around the region. Legends: Arceus also introduces some other new items, such as the Heavy Ball, which is better at catching a Pokémon who hasn’t noticed you yet.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus looks set to massively shake up the tried-and-tested Pokémon formula, and I for one am really excited. The new battling and introduction of Styles will provide a completely new way to play and I can’t wait to see what else is in store for us!