Guide - Updated on September 25, 2022

Relevant for platform: NSW

The formula for the Pokémon games was so successful that it didn’t change much over the years. Everything was created according to a template: walking through linear regions, meeting with trainers, getting prizes for winning challenges, catching Pokemon in tall grass … Judging by the crazy sales, the audience was content with this, but the Game Freak team seemed to be fed up with similar games. Timid attempts to change something were made in Sword & Shield, where in addition to the “corridors”, wild zones appeared – large locations where third-person control is available, and Pokemon walk around large areas where the weather changes.

After that, Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl remakes came out, returning players to the classic gameplay without unnecessary bells and whistles, and a couple of months later we got Pokémon Legends: Arceus. And then the history of the series was divided into “before” and “after”, and this is not an exaggeration. The novelty almost completely changed the structure and in many ways became a game that Pokemon fans could only fantasize about before.

A new beginning

No more linear tracks, standing on every corner of the coaches and other disgusting mechanics. We find ourselves in a world divided into several large regions, where a variety of Pokémon live, doing their own thing. They don’t just hide in the grass, which means we have to run from one bush to another in the hope of catching someone new. They are always visible, and the player now spends time in the grass if he does not want to scare away the Pokemon.

In Arceus, we literally “collect them all” – we don’t blindly search, as was often the case before, but we find an animal, aim, swing and throw a pokeball at it. Either empty to replenish the collection with this Pokemon, or already used if we want to join the battle. In the first case, success is not guaranteed – the target can get out of the pokeball and run away, or show aggression and attack. In this case, your character will receive damage – you will have to save yourself by somersaults and run away.

Catching Pokémon in water is more difficult than on land.

The process is really exciting – when you run to the next story task and see an individual that is not in the collection, you squat down and get ready to catch it. Especially if the night falls and new creatures appear on the visited locations. You can just throw a pokeball – if you hit in the back, the chance of capture will increase. You can appease a Pokemon with food – let him eat and lose his vigilance. You can stun – throw something at him and quickly switch to a pokeball. Well, or do everything the old fashioned way: initiate a fight, bring the enemy’s health to a minimum and catch him.

The game has a gyroscope control, but it is disabled by default.

The gameplay change is closely related to the story told in Arceus. We are used to the fact that in these games Pokemon have become an integral part of people’s lives: they live with them and help with the housework. Here we are transported to the past – to the time when the Sinnoh region from Diamond & Pearl was also called Gisui. Then the attitude towards Pokemon was completely different, and technology did not develop – even Pokeballs had just appeared, not to mention computers, mobile phones and so on.

It was better in the past

The protagonist (or heroine) becomes a member of the Galactic Expeditionary Team, whose goal is to study Pokémon, strange creatures that cause conflicting feelings in people. This topic is especially funny in side quests, of which there are many. The mother worries about her children playing with these creatures. The man saw a creature with a beautiful tail, but is afraid to go outside the village. A woman hears strange knocks in her apartment. Even if the tasks themselves are straightforward, the stories are funny, and introducing people to the benevolent Pokémon they’ve been afraid of for so long doesn’t get boring.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus: Review

Many people hold this opinion.

The main storyline is also good – not so much that you buy the game solely for the sake of it, but it ties all the elements together well. There are a lot of characters, everyone has time to open up, you never want to miss the dialogues. Perhaps the fact is that this is not another story about a teenager who wins badges in the halls – such “sports dramas” are already tired.

The setting forced the developers to abandon many familiar elements. There are no Pokemon centers – you need to heal Pokemon either manually, with potions, or while relaxing in a tent in any camp. Buying pokeballs, potions and other valuable goods is expensive – it is advisable to collect resources in the open world (just like in Monster Hunter) and create items on a workbench. The inventory with a limited number of cells seems the strangest: a character can carry a hundred pokeballs, but God forbid, he has three dozen different things in his bag – the berry he saw for the first time would no longer fit there. You have to spend money to increase the bag, buying one cell at a time, and the price is constantly growing.

Sometimes Pokémon hide under the deposits and in the crowns of the trees.

True explorer

Filling out the Pokédex is also not as easy a process as it used to be. Capturing a single specimen is not enough – you need to complete tasks related to it in order to increase the level of research. Here Arceus is trying to please all categories of players, and she succeeds. If you like hiding in the grass and catching Pokemon, do just that. Still not tired of battles – fight with everyone you meet. In both cases, the Pokedex will be updated with new data, and the scientist will reward money for the work. Very little action is required to reach the required level of research, so it does not turn into a grind.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus: Review

Little has been done, but the desired level has already been reached.

Fights remained turn-based, but they are arranged a little differently. Earning new levels, the Pokémon not only learns additional moves, but also masters the old ones better. In this case, the ability has two styles: dexterous makes the attack weaker, but gives a chance to immediately make it again, and strong gives an increase in attack, but the next time your turn may come later than usual.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus: Review

The icons to the right of the moves show whether the ability is effective against the opponent, or if it’s better to switch Pokémon.

This adds an element of tactics to battles that may not be so easy. Firstly, because of the open world, sometimes you will have to fight with several Pokémon at once – for example, if you disturbed and angered them all at the same time. Secondly, alpha Pokemon scurry around the locations, large individuals with red eyes, which are very strong and at first will give your squad a thrashing, still consisting of six Pokemon. It’s a pity that the fights with the story bosses didn’t work out – you just throw them with endless items and sometimes dodge attacks, which looks ridiculous every time.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus: Review

They suggest throwing Pokemon into bosses to start a fight and stun the enemy, but there is no need for this at all.

It would take too long to list the changes to Arceus that make the gameplay more enjoyable than past games. For example, Pokémon learning new moves is no longer accompanied by several dialog boxes – you are just promptly informed about it after a fight. And you don’t need to go to the Poké Center to forget or remember a trick – go to the menu and change it all on the fly. Evolutions do not occur automatically – if you have not completed research in the Pokedex, you can wait with the transformation, and then start the process through the same menu.

Buckets of tar

In general, the game is wonderful, and numerous changes have benefited it. It is all the more offensive that so little time was allocated for its development. This is obviously about the imperfection of the graphics. The textures of the mountains and the ground look like daub, the clothes of the characters are stretched so that the symbols and logos on it are unreadable. The grass is bad, the trees are no better, you can’t look at the water without tears, the drawing distance is depressing. It’s hard not to compare the game to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and the Switch launch exclusive was also released on Wii U and still looks better.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus: Review

At such moments, the game tries to show beautiful views.

Arceus still has its own charm, including thanks to Pokemon – they are not only beautifully drawn, but also received updated animations. Plus, in the open world, they all behave differently – both in a calm environment and at the sight of the player. But this is not enough – I want the locations to be more atmospheric, so that they themselves can tell stories. Now everything looks as if the developers randomly placed mountains, hills, lakes and streams. And when the complete lack of voice acting is added to this, it becomes very difficult for the game to meet at least some quality standards.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus: Review

In the dynamics in portable mode, everything looks a little better than in the screenshots, but still far from ideal.

But the most important omission is the lack of translation into Russian. I would like to believe that this is a new start for the series – record sales and positive reviews will certainly not go unnoticed by developers. It would be logical to start translating Pokémon from this game, which would be an ideal entry point for newcomers – both they and the fans learn all the innovations together. But no. At the beginning of the year, The Pokémon Company announced that it was expanding its presence in the Russian market and would translate “new franchise products.” On the same day, Pokémon Unite received a translation patch, but there was no news about Arceus. Maybe the update will be released later, but there is little hope – this would certainly have been reported in that press release.

Whatever the case, Pokémon Legends: Arceus is not only a great Pokémon, but also a fun game that finally gets rid of the clichés associated with the series. The only question is what’s next for the series. Will Game Freak move in the same direction? Can the next game with a similar structure generate the same interest? What other elements will be developed? Will developers be forced to churn out games at the same speed, or, as happened with Call of Duty, will different studios do everything? Never before has the future of Pokémon been so intriguing.

Pros: the usual formula has completely changed, and the process of catching Pokemon has become much more fun; Filling out the Pokédex is interesting, especially because of the ability to do it in different ways; successful innovations in the combat system; the standard plot structure was finally abandoned, making the story more entertaining; numerous gameplay changes greatly refreshed the series.

Cons: in technical terms, the game lags even behind games with Wii U; ridiculous inventory restrictions constantly get on your nerves; battles with bosses are even shameful to call battles; a translation into Russian would be most welcome here, but it is not available.

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