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    HomeNewsPokemon Legends: Arceus Review - It Nailed Some, It Missed Some

    Pokemon Legends: Arceus Review – It Nailed Some, It Missed Some

    Developed By: Game Freaks

    Published By: Nintendo, The Pokemon Company

    Platforms: Nintendo Switch

    Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch OLED

    Review Copy Provided By The Pokemon Company

     

    What appeals to me the most about Pokemon games is undoubtedly the Pokemon collecting part. I love hunting for them, I love to train them, and I most definitely love to watch them win me fights and battles. But it has been a while now that I’ve stopped caring about plots in this series. Well, I used to care, but as the story continue to repeat itself in a similar fashion in almost every release, it just became impossible for me to feel excited, and I’d rather skip every dialogue that I can so that I can get back to doing what I enjoy most – collecting Pokemons.

    Then comes Pokemon Legends: Arceus with its story that I was ready to ignore until I didn’t because this one proved different. Over the course of my gameplay, I realised that many things, like its plot, have changed from what I knew of the Pokemon game series. And while I like some of these changes and hope Game Freaks retain and continue to expand upon them for future Pokemon games, there are also parts where I’m not sure was the right design choice.

    My starting gang

     

    Like No One Ever Was

    First thing first, let’s talk about the story. This is probably the first Pokemon game in a long that that managed to hold my attention from start to finish with its plot. Gone are the boring and predictable days where my character is set on a weightless story and childish role where I strive to become the very best Pokemon trainer in the region. In contrast, the story in Legends: Arceus start off with a pinch of mystery that managed to keep me curious until the end game. Instead of setting players down a path of becoming the best Pokemon trainer, this time I play the role of a stranger who’s just landed in a foreign land called Hisui after falling from the sky (literally). I was then found by a Pokemon professor and his people, the Galaxy Team who themselves are new settlers in Hisui.

    New home. Jubilife Village in Hisui region.

    To earn my keep with them, I’d serve as a member of their expedition group’s Survey Corp, where I was tasked with exploring the region, investigating Pokemons, tending to quests from the team and the land’s native people, before eventually unraveling the mystery and secrets of this land and its inhabitants. The game tries its best to tell its story but the absence of voice acting means the moods are entirely conveyed by words and cutscenes, and the game does not have the best script nor the best technology to produce good cutscenes.

     

    Welcome To Hisui

    I actually enjoyed the open-world concept of Pokemon Sword & Shield but I didn’t miss it this time around. Legends: Arceus’ world is made of several maps and all five of its wild area maps are huge, with certain areas in them accessible only by using certain mounts. To travel around the huge land, I could summon different Pokemon mounts to carry my character for; land travel, flights, swimming, and climbing mountain. The fun thing about mounts here is the transition between them is so smooth and immediate. I could be riding on a Wrydeer in one moment, running across the plain, before switching to a Braviary and soaring through the sky the next.

    Riding my faithful Wrydeer across the wildlands.
    Flying on a Pokemon is a fun way to travel.

    There are also several fast travel points built-in which are convenient to use because the game loads fast. The maps are also scattered with Alpha Pokemons, which are the biggest sized and meanest of that Pokemon type roaming around. They reward candies and huge exp upon defeating them. But there are two aspects in Legends: Arceus’ vast world that I didn’t particularly like; the lack of Pokemons types and eye-soring graphics.

    Though the maps are huge, I find the selection of Pokemons scattered around repeats too often and the lack of variety was disappointing. The game has a day/night cycle, prompting different certain Pokemons to appear only at night, but they number too few. It also didn’t improve the experience when graphics are so sub-par and dated that it felt like I was playing a game that was released two generations ago.

     

    Pokedex And Ranks

    The new Pokedex is amazing and adds real meaning to the gameplay

    With a new storyline comes a new way of playing through it, and this is something that Legends: Arceus accomplished rather well. The developer didn’t just change the way the story is presented, they also changed how players will in turn ‘live’ and play in the story. For example, the Pokedex functions have been meaningfully overhauled this time around and it now gives out research tasks for each Pokemon that players can complete like; Catch 5 of this type, Defeat 5 of this type, Defeat it with a Psychic move 4 times, Watch it use Drain Kiss 3 times – I just named a few.

    Example of tasks available in the Pokedex

    Completing research tasks gives Exp that leads towards Star Ranks, which is the olden days’ Gym Badge equivalent, allowing players to command higher level Pokemons as their rank goes higher. Honestly, this new change is such a nice breeze after being stuck in the old Pokemon games closet. I have always despised how previous games desperately try to prolong our gaming hours by having NPCs “ambush” us with mandatory Pokemon battles. Don’t get me wrong, I understand and appreciate why the Pokemon battle is a vital part of the series’ DNA, but the way they were done was just so uninspiring and if I am to be honest, lazy. Game Freaks finally did something about it in Legends: Arceus that I can agree with – by presenting scenarios that lead to Pokemon battles with NPCs that make sense. More often than not, battles are now tied to the curated storyline, so there are no more random and irrelevant time-wasting fights.

     

    New Approach To Catching ‘Em All

    Another major change that took place was how players engage Pokemon to either capture or battle them. For example, instead of being ambushed by wild Pokemons hiding in tall grass, the role is now reversed and players get to hide in the grass or behind any object, bidding their time to land the perfect Pokeball throw at any unsuspecting wild Pokemon. Nailing a stealthy hit increases the capture success rate, so is a surprise attack that’ll earn them an extra move during battle. And If they wanted to, they could also throw a food item to lure the Pokemon into feeding, or just smash a ball of mud into their faces to increase capture rates.

    Yeh, my turn to hide and ambush now.

    The new features do provide an additional layer of a strategic approach that players can choose from and that in itself enhanced the gameplay experience. But what I particularly appreciate is the fact that these new mechanisms are only approachable and simple, they are also easy to execute to great effects. I must admit that I now find it hard to go back to Pokemon: Sword and its primitive engagement mechanism. It was also interesting to see how wild Pokemon reacts towards different approaches at times, like how some would run away when they caught me sneaking upon them, and some would charge at me forcing me to fight. In a way, encounters do feel more natural now and less predictable than before.

    Trying to ambush an Eevee from inside the tall grass.

     

    Crafting!

    RPG element like crafting is also in Legends: Arceus and it’s both convenient and a relief being able to craft my own potions, revives, and Pokeballs. Crafting materials are easy to come by too, they are abundant in the wild and can be bought from the NPC. What pleases me the most about crafting is the fact that I can do so anywhere I want as long as I have the required material.

     

    Battles

    Battle-wise, Legends: Arceus is still a turned-based combat system but with a new feature – Move Mastery. Pokemon can now ‘Master’ a move that will grant them the Agile or Strong version of the said move. Agile style produces lesser power but comes out faster, even allowing the player to move twice in a row in some instances. The Strong move produces more power but risks losing a turn to their opponent. This new feature adds some depth to the combat system and seemed interesting to me at first until I realised I didn’t need to utilise them because they were unnecessary and the normal moves work just fine to win battles. It just seems like a big miss that Game Freaks implemented a new design but didn’t give it enough room to take form and shine.

    My Blissey and I trying to kick some Pokemon butts.

    But the biggest contributing factor that caused the new combat feature to be irrelevant is the fact that battles themselves are hardly balanced. You’d think that a long-established franchise like the Pokemon game series would have figured this out by now but battles in Legends: Arceus still ends in 2-3 shots max. A Super Effective move will most likely take out an opponent in a single shot even if the opponent is 20 levels higher, which is broken. Because of this, battles can both feel too easy or hard. Either way, they end too quickly which is disappointing, to say the least.

    My Gallade v Machoke.

     

    QoL Improvements And The Lack Thereof

    There are improvements in Quality of Life areas that I am thankful for in this game. For a game that fans would typically play for a long time, it’s a godsend that I no longer have to click ‘Confirm’ for every prompts that come out double-checking if I really wanted to throw that Pokeball, or if I would like my Pokemon to learn that new move now or never. Pokemons automatically learn every newly available move and I can choose when I want to equip or change those moves. Even evolutions do not forcefully pop out now, instead, it courteously informs the player that “Hey, your Eevee can evolve now! Whenever you want, bro!”. Pokemon can be healed by the system by resting up in camps available in every wild area. There’s no more need to return to the city for medical facilities. The QoL improvements designed to allow more game time and give us the flexibilities to choose when to service our team, are great and should remain a trend for the franchise moving forward.

    Oceanic battle

    But there are also bits that I wondered why. For example, why isn’t there a mini-map available? Why must I go through the trouble to bring up the full map only to open-close it several times as I try to figure out the right direction? Why can I set down markers on the map but the game won’t indicate its direction when I return to my game screen?

     

    No Multiplayer And Meaningless Online Feature

    One of my beloved features in Sword and Shield is the online presence in that game, where we can see the avatar of other players roaming around, informing each other that there’s a Gigantax Pokemon and inviting players to bring it down together, the Link trades and battles, and the surprise trade. It provided a meaningful platform for players to connect with one another and sometimes work together. Players would hunt for Pokemons that are only available in their region and then trade with those outside of the region so that we’d all complete our Pokedex.

    Pic from Pokemon Sword. I miss the online features of this game.

    In contrast, Legends: Arceus only has two online features and they are trading via a link trade where you need to have a friend who plays it, and you each set a code to connect for the trade. The other is collecting “Lost Satchels”, these are dropped by players who’ve fallen in their own game, and picking these up and ‘returning’ them will net you with a currency. The currency can then be exchanged for some goodies.

    I don’t get the downgrade and I don’t understand how the game is better without the franchise’s high-celebrated online features. If anything, Legends: Arceus feels pointlessly secluded after the fact.

    So alone…

    What I Really Liked

    • A new plot, finally!
    • Pokedex is more meaningful now.
    • Major improvement in our approach options
    • Crafting
    • Mounts and their smooth transitions.
    • QoL improvements.

    What I Wished Was Better

    • The new Battle feature needs more room to shine.
    • Graphic quality is outdated.
    • The difficulty is not balanced.
    • Lack of online features
    • Minimap and markers.
    • Not enough Pokemons
    After discussing with my council of Evolved Eevees, I am ready to present my verdict.

     

    Verdict

    Pokemon Legends: Arceus represents hope that the Pokemon game franchise can evolve for the better, and though this game might not be the end product of a completed evolution, it does look fairly promising. For old Pokemon fans, it goes without saying your ownership of this game is pretty much mandated. But for new and curious fans, I might actually suggest starting with Sword and Shield first before playing Legends: Arceus. That way, you’d get the best of the Pokemon games. Despite me disliking some aspects of the game, I am now 45 hours in and don’t see myself stopping soon.

    Final Score – 7.5 /10

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    Zozi
    Zozihttps://bunnygaming.com
    The Editor-Mischief, or if according to the signature in his email, 'in-chief', of BunnyGaming.com. Loves complaining about FIFA games but still buys them every year nonetheless. Prefer subs over dubs. Got his ass kicked in Bloodborne and swore never to play it again.

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