Arceus Review – a new experience for the franchise

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  • Released on January 28, Pokémon Legends: Arceus is the latest Nintendo Switch exclusive.
  • The game features exploration and survival like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
  • Pokémon Legends: Arceus is a transformative step for future Pokémon games, despite some flaws.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus is Nintendo publisher and developer Game Freak’s latest hit game for the Switch, reimagining the gameplay of the iconic franchise while capturing the nostalgia that has made Pokémon so popular for over 25 years.

This new Pokémon game introduces more action-oriented, open-world gameplay with a focus on exploration that is deeply reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, another Nintendo exclusive that sold over 25 million copies since 2017. on Switch has stayed close to the traditional Pokemon games formula, sending players into a series of turn-based monster battles across different cities while using mostly fixed camera angles and environments limited similar to a traditional role-playing game.

As someone who’s played every generation of Pokémon games since 1998, Pokémon Legends: Arceus feels like a transformative step for the Pokémon franchise I’ve been waiting for, blending immersive open-world exploration with the classic battle system at the turn-based that the series is known for.

That said, the game lacks some of the visual polish and presentation one would expect from a major console exclusive title, especially coming much later in the Switch’s lifecycle – and representing a franchise. of several billion dollars.

Even though Pokémon Legends: Arceus is just the first step in a new direction for the series, the new approach to the game brings a welcoming experience for new players and veterans alike. Pokémon Legends: Arceus looks like the first must-have game of 2022 for Nintendo Switch owners, and well worth the $60 price tag.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus sends players back in time to catch over 240 Pokémon.

The three starter Pokemon in Pokemon Legends Arceus.  Cyndaquil, Rowlet and Oshawott.

Pokemon Legends Arceus/Nintendo

Pokémon Legends: Arceus departs from the timeline of traditional Pokémon games, sending the player character back in time to Hisui, an older version of what is known in current Pokémon games as the Sinnoh region. While Sinnoh is full of towns and Pokemon trainers, Hisu is dominated by wild Pokemon and humans live in small settlements.

Players start with a simple task; capture and document every Pokémon in the Hisui region to help people learn more about their surroundings. Just like the classic Pokémon games, you choose between one of three starter Pokémon to serve as your first partner, and add dozens of new Pokémon to your team of six monsters as you explore Hisui.

Unlike Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Pokémon Legends: Arceus does not have a transparent open-world map. Instead, the Hisui region is divided into six large environments, or biomes, that players can explore. Each environment contains distinct areas like forests and swamps where specific Pokémon live, and the game’s day and night operating cycle will impact which Pokémon appear and when.

Players explore wild environments to capture Pokémon with stealth tactics or battles.

Pokemon Legends: Arceus

Pokémon Legends: Arceus / Nintendo

Players can use stealth to ambush and capture Pokemon without battling, or they can use the traditional approach of weakening a Pokemon in battle before it’s captured. Pokémon Legends: Arceus does a good job of rewarding different playstyles, offering different research tasks based on capturing lots of Pokémon with stealth and items, or battling and evolving Pokémon to see specific moves in action.

Between expeditions in Hisui, players will visit the village of Jubilife, the city-state of this region, to take on new missions and meet the demands of local townspeople. This is where the game picks up the pace of a classic role-playing game, giving players the chance to stock up on items, organize their Pokémon, and learn about Hisui’s other characters.

The smaller environments and mission-based structure of Pokémon Legends: Arceus keep it from being a truly open-world game like Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but players still get a ton of freedom to form their Team Pokémon and explore Hisui by land, sea, and air using specific Pokémon.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus doesn’t have very impressive graphics, but the world still feels lively and immersive.

The trainer in Pokemon Legends Arceus, with a Pikachu in the background

Pokemon Legends Arceus/Nintendo

The world of Pokémon Legends: Arceus is vibrant and charming, thanks to the thoughtful placement of Pokémon and their iconic designs, but the game feels a bit lacking in terms of overall visual presentation. Environments suffer from “pop-in” where objects in the distance suddenly appear or experience a drastic change in visual quality at the edge of a player’s line of sight. This means that flying Pokémon will appear to float instead of flapping their wings when they’re too far away, and some trees or mountains will lack detail and texture until you get close to them.

These graphical issues, combined with Pokémon Legends: Arceus lacking any voice acting, make the game less polished than the exclusive releases we see from Nintendo competitors, like Sony and Microsoft. Pokémon Legends: Arceus does a good job of making its environments immersive with its simulation of a Pokémon world, but other Switch games, like Monster Hunter Rise and Xenoblade Chronicles 2, offer much better visual quality in similar open environments.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus is a great starting point for the future of Pokémon games.

A trainer in Pokemon Legends Arceus riding Pokemon Wyrdeer

Pokemon Legends Arceus/Nintendo

Despite the visual flaws, over 6 million players have already purchased Pokémon Legends: Arceus, and there’s plenty to enjoy with just over 240 Pokémon to catch and a story campaign that lasts around 20 hours.

Coming five years after Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Pokémon Legends: Arceus doesn’t feel quite as ambitious, but it does a great job of incorporating action and genuine exploration without losing the spirit of classic Pokémon games.

Hopefully the developers at Game Freak can build on the strengths of Pokémon Legends: Arceus and improve the visual quality and presentation of future sequels to create an even more immersive experience in the next Pokémon game, and it would certainly be exciting to see the open world. gameplay of Legends: Arceus makes it the main series of Pokémon games.

The bottom line

Pokémon Legends: Arceus looks like the first must-have Switch game of the year, making it well worth the $60 asking price. It’s a great starting point for players with no prior knowledge of Pokémon, and those who’ve played a few of the older role-playing adventures will find a new experience.

About Johanna Gooding

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