Lennon McGuirk looks into the Pokemon franchise’s latest refresh
Up until now, Pokémon games have followed a very strict formula and while occasionally, new mechanics have been added; the games as a whole have rarely changed at all. Typically the only change in the games have been new pokemon and maybe a new mechanic such as V Max or Ultra Evolutions. Pokémon Legends Arceus however, has completely revamped almost every mechanic in a refreshing way.
Developer Game Freak has scrapped nearly everything we have been taught to expect from a main line Pokémon game. Gyms, random encounters, an Elite Four, trainer battles on the overworld, an evil team bent on world domination are all gone. They have even rethought the most basic systems like Pokémon encounters and evolution from the ground up. A lot of this impressive transformation pays off, in that we get to interact with creatures that have never felt more alive in more dynamic ways, but Pokemon’s evolution is not yet complete, because the semi-open world around all of that feels like an unimpressive afterthought due to its bland emptiness.
To touch on the more disappointing elements of this game, Arceus' world feels somewhat empty even if it's full of wild creatures to capture and fight. Due to how random spawns are, be that the new space distortion zones or specific rare pokemon, it means a lot of sitting around and waiting for them which can completely halt a players progression in completing tasks.
Pokémon are tangible in the open world now and can be interacted with
This however doesn't take away from how fun it is actually engaging with pokemon in the world. Gone are the days of wading through all grass waiting for random encounters. Pokémon are tangible in the open world now and can be interacted with similar to sword and shield wild zones. The difference however is that you can catch a pokémon without ever battling it now. Some of the most fun I had was figuring out how to stealth my way to catching a massive Garchomp or how to get up to a ledge to catch a flying Staravia. It's a great step in the right direction but the world's overall emptiness makes it more of a jumping off point than a final destination.
In terms of story, there is not a lot. It's a typical "you are the chosen one, please save us" RPG. Nothing particularly memorable happens in it and most of the plot is just an excuse to catch cool pokémon (which is not necessarily a bad thing). My main concern comes at the ending of the game. More specifically the three endings. There's the main "beat the storyline ending" of course but the game also has two not advertised endings, one of which only occurs when you complete the pokédex. This makes me worry that many people may not experience the full story as some pokémon take absolutely ages to find without a guide.
All of those complaints aside, this game is the most fun I've had playing Pokémon since I was a kid playing Pearl and Diamond. It's a refreshing take on the series and one I hope inspires a new generation of amazing Pokémon games.
3.5 pokéballs out of 5