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For years there has been a paradox at the heart of pokémon Serie. Each game is a story about discovery, where players venture into a strange new world in search of monsters to discover and collect. At the same time, the franchise has evolved more slowly than a low-tier Magikarp, introducing features so gradually that veteran players usually already know what to expect when the next release comes out. There will be a new location, some new features, and a larger Pokédex, but the structure has remained largely identical to the original Game Boy games up until now. Espada Y Armor on the Nintendo switch.

What does he do Pokémon Legends: Arceus so refreshing: it’s genuinely amazing. It does this by changing the timeline well before the modern games in the series, during a period when Pokémon was barely understood. Instead of a world where humans and Pokémon live in harmony, and anyone can buy an electronic device filled with information on hundreds of species, players are thrust into a wild and untamed region where people do their best to survive. while surrounded by largely unknown beings. and seemingly dangerous creatures.

This change in perspective, coupled with a more holistic approach to design and a much larger, more open world to explore, makes for the biggest overhaul of the game yet. pokémon formula since the series debuted.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus breathes new life into Pokémon

Longtime fans of the series will notice the changes right away. Instead of being a young aspiring pokémon trainer to become a champion, you are a teenager in the Hisui region, an earlier version of the location of pokemon diamond Y Perla — which, not coincidentally, were remade for Switch, where Pokéballs have just been invented and most humans live in a small town surrounded by nature. Immediately, you are recruited into a survey team with the goal of documenting the various monsters around you.

The premise is ideal for a pokémon adventure. Just like in previous games, you’ll get a pokédex to complete, though here it’s an actual paper book rather than a retro-futuristic device. The goal, as always, is to capture and learn about all the Pokémon in the region. But the way you do it is much more complicated. Keep in mind that this is a time when most people not only misunderstand Pokémon, but many are also afraid of them. You have to do a little more research than usual. Completing your Pokédex means capturing monsters, defeating them in battle, witnessing their attacks and other interactions and observations. Every creature has a checklist, and to fully flesh out your pokédex entry, you’ll need to check most of the boxes.

Along with this quest to investigate the world around you, the main story involves a handful of super-powered pokémon that are rampaging through the region and need to calm down, along with an annoying rift in space and time looming in the sky. The result is a structure that feels very different and, more importantly, much more flexible than most pokémon games. There is no predetermined list of gyms that you must fight for or paths that take you from city to city in order. There is a small town and a vast desert around it.

The world itself is a bit like a cross between the wilderness areas of Espada Y Armor (particularly the greatly improved version presented in the isle of armor expansion) and the vast hunting grounds from the Monster hunter Serie. This means that arceus it is not a traditional open world. Instead, the land of Hisui is a series of large, self-contained areas, each containing different creatures and landscapes. So don’t go in expecting breath of the wild with some Zubats flying around. That said, each biome is big; Eventually, you’ll get mounts to help you scale mountains and cross seas, and there’s a fast travel option that lets you jump from one base camp to another.

When you’re in the field, the experience is a mix of familiarity pokémon very welcome tropes and twists on the formula. The classic turn-based battles are back, but with some added strategy; Pokémon can now master moves, allowing them to use new versions of “agile” or “strong” attacks, so you can decide whether to focus on speed or power. There are the standard rock-paper-scissors matchups: water is strong against fire but weak against electricity, and if you weaken a pokémon enough, you can capture it. Your character can move around in battles, which doesn’t really change anything, but makes them feel a bit more dynamic.

You can also catch pokémon without fighting them. You do this by sneaking around areas, hoping to catch an unsuspecting monster, and then aiming and throwing a ball. this becomes pokémon in a kind of stealth game; I spent much of my time lurking in tall grass or hiding behind trees, waiting for my target to turn around so I could jump up behind them. The other great novelty is the elaboration. There’s a general store where you can buy pokeballs and potions, but you can also gather the necessary ingredients in the wild to make your own gear, and you’ll get new recipes as you progress through the game. I rarely bought anything during my time with the game (other than new clothes, of course), focusing on a more self-sufficient route where I gathered and crafted just about everything I needed.

This creates an interesting rhythm that is not unlike playing a Monster hunter play. Most of the time, I would prep in town and then head to one of the areas with a specific goal in mind. That could be completing some villager side quests, taking on the next big story quest, collecting specific Pokemon, or sometimes just going on a field trip for the express purpose of collecting crafting materials. I would complete whatever goal I set for myself (and usually distract myself by doing a few other things) and then head back to town to upgrade my gear, talk to a few people, and plan my next outing. Rinse and repeat. All of these activities add a very welcome variety to the experience, as battles play much less of a role; I could spend an entire game session sneaking and trapping. There are also a handful of boss fights that are unlike anything else in pokémon, with an almost action game feel.

There are two notable things about this structure. One, it’s very cohesive. the premise of arceus and the things you’re doing in the game are all in tune with each other. To get new medicines at the general store or clothes at the fashion store, for example, you’ll need to do quests that involve going out and finding the necessary items or Pokémon in the wild. Similarly, you gain experience by catching and defeating Pokémon, which is also exactly what you need to do to complete the Pokédex. There’s always a narrative reason for what you’re doing, whether it’s helping a villager spooked by Drifloons or trying to learn as much as you can about aquatic Pokémon. It’s not just a series of annoying fetch quests with no explanation.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus breathes new life into Pokémon

The structure also allows you to adjust the experience and difficulty to your liking. I played very cautiously, using a lot of stealth to avoid battles until I was ready. (arceus introduces new “alpha” monsters that can be quite a challenge to take down). But he could also have accepted the challenge if he wanted to; You can even get knocked out by wild pokémon if they see you and attack. It’s an open enough experience that you can adjust things based on how you like to play, since you’re not forced to follow a specific path. And although the main story is as long as a traditional story pokémon game, there are a wide variety of optional side quests and excursions to make this a really great and robust experience. I’ve seen the credits roll, but I keep going back in an attempt to complete that pokedex and see all the world has to offer.

The most important thing I can say about arceus is that it is a place where I want to be. As much as I loved the previous one pokémon games, the worlds were very static and linear. I never really felt like I was exploring a vibrant world while pacing back and forth in tall grass, trying to level up my squad. Here, however, while it’s not exactly a realistic simulation of nature, it at least conveys the feeling of a real place full of dangers and secrets and all the joy and excitement those things can bring. And it does all of that while retaining most of the best qualities of its predecessors.

is still a pokémon play. But with a changed perspective, it is also something new.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus launches on Nintendo Switch on January 28.

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