Preview: Pokémon Legends: Arceus - A New Era for Pokémon?

John Heycock previews Pokémon's upcoming adventure in the Hisui region

John Heycock
19th October 2021
Image: Amazon
Pokémon Legends: Arceus is taking us to the land of Hisui - based around the towering Mount Coronet… wait does that sound familiar?
Image: Official Artwork from the Pokémon Company

Yep, for the first time in the history of the franchise, we're taking a deep dive into the past of a classic Pokémon region. We are, of course, talking about Sinnoh. The Sinnoh region has long been immersed in its culture, with myths passed down through generations. But now you'll get to unearth new secrets and be part of those very myths. Or at least we assume: despite having given us 3 trailers, almost everything about these games is a mystery.

What we do know is it will be a departure from the traditional format. In every mainline Pokémon game in history, the game revolved around working with your Pokémon on your quest to become the champion of the region. This time, however, it's different as you'll be making the region's very first Pokédex - documenting Pokémon which live clearly separate lives from people.

A Pokémon battle in Legends: Arceus.

When the first trailer was released in February, many fans got excited at the prospect of an open-world style game, with many comparing it to Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild despite having inferior graphics and some Pokémon moving at 5fps - yes, really. Now that the initial (and in my view unwarranted) hype has died down, it's clear that it won't compare to the fan-favourite Nintendo title but it still isn't clear that Legends Arceus is even open world - with leaked screenshots showing portions of the map locked off.

The game's mechanics revolve around catching Pokémon. Different creatures will react differently as you approach: some will attack whereas some will run away, meaning stealthily observing a Pokémon's movements and trying to sneak up on them will be essential. However some will also need to be weakened by those from your own party. Throwing your Pokémon out its pokeball will begin a battle, in which you can use moves in two different styles varying in speed and power. Moves in the strong style are powerful but your Pokémon takes longer to move. If you want to move earlier you'll need to use the agile style - but this extra speed comes at the cost of power. 

The game features crafting of pokeballs using apricorns and tumbestones as well as entirely overworld Pokémon and for the first time ever in Pokémon, these powerful creatures can attack you too!

Electivire is angry! For the first time ever, Pokémon can attack you!

And despite this game being set in the distant past, some of the characters you'll meet along your way have a striking resemblance to some classic Sinnoh characters from Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. Commander Kamado is the boss of the Galaxy Team, supposedly trusted deeply by those who know him - there's no questioning he's an ancestor of modern day Sinnoh's Professor Rowan. Captain Cyllene is the leader of the Survey Corps, whose blue-tinged grey hair gives her a similar appearance to Cyrus - the boss of Team Galactic, causing trouble in the Sinnoh we all know. And the Galaxy Team from these games clearly has links with modern-day Team Galactic - even the logo is similar - although what that link proves to be is still undiscovered and will likely be integral to the story.

We'll also see new Pokémon roaming this largely untouched region. The first new Pokémon revealed was Wyrdeer, an evolution of Johto's deer Pokémon Stantler, which you can ride to rapidly traverse the region by using the new Celestica Flute item. A new Hisuian form of Braviary can be used to fly high in the skies and Basculegion - a Pokémon which evolves from the souls of perished Basculin - can be used to navigate the waters. But the fan favourite is undoubtedly Hisuian Growlithe, a rock and fire type version of the already beloved Pokémon - this one looks so silly that it's undeniably cute.

Hisuian Braviary takes the protagonist for a ride

A new trailer has also revealed Kleavor. A rather fearsome-looking Pokémon, it is our first look at a frenzied noble Pokémon. Growing in size and shining brightly, this is said to be caused by a "strange phenomenon" - but what could this mean for the wider plot?

Pokémon Legends: Arceus feels like an attempt to bring back older Pokémon fans who've worn tired of the traditional format or grown out of step with the more recent titles. A large (and vocal) group of the fanbase have been wanting a change to the mainline games after 25 years of the same kind of narrative. The company has always resisted large change as the traditional format has been so successful - enough to get the company to its silver anniversary and to become the world's largest-grossing media franchise. The most recent titles, Sword and Shield, have sold nearly 22 million copies - making them the third best-selling Pokémon titles in history.

Changing the format comes with great risk and that's where this title comes in. If successful, it could translate to bigger changes to future main series games, if not, the traditional format is more likely to stick around. Which it'll be will only become clear after its release on January 28th.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus Official Trailer
Credit: The Pokémon Company

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