Pokémon: Legends Arceus spoilers ahead.
When I saw the original Pokémon: Legends Arceus trailer, I instantly knew that it would be a much different Pokémon game than the ones we’ve seen before. An open-world Pokémon game was something fans have been asking about for a really long time, especially after the early Switch release of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. An open-world Pokémon game would be an extremely ambitious project, so when the trailer came out, I was shocked. The whole internet went into a frenzy, with some excited for the new change and others worried that developer Game Freak wouldn’t be able to pull it off. I think that we’re all pleased with the results.
Some of my favorite things about Legends Arceus are the small details. When you first arrive in Jubilife Village, locals are a bit wary of Pokémon and express their distrust for the creatures. However, some villagers become curious and send you on different quests to catch or find information about certain Pokémon. The Pokémon that the villagers are given become permanent friends of the village and are seen helping out. The brave Bidoof Brigade joins the Construction Corps and helps build new houses. The Mr. Mime that you chase down ends up gallantly guarding the gate. And of course, everyone’s favorite Wurmple that Beauregard wistfully wishes would become a Beautifly greets you each time you walk by.
By the end of the game, the entire village happily coexists with Pokémon. As you help Jubilife Village develop, the town starts constructing new houses and buildings; previously existing buildings get upgraded and revamped as time goes on. Even the music evolves into something more similar to the original Jubilfe City music from Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. The upgraded music was one of my favorite parts of developing Jubilife Village, and Pokémon Diamond and Pearl fans instantly recognize the familiar tune!
Fans voiced praise for the quality of life updates for wild Pokémon battles. In particular, players enjoy the seamless transitions between exploring the world and jumping into Pokémon battles. In previous games, players would run into wild Pokémon, and an animation was played that transitions the game overworld into a Pokémon battle. While not extremely tedious, the time saved by deleting the extra animations has made the game run more smoothly.
In addition, the ability to move freely during battles has certainly made the gameplay more interesting. If your character is too close to the in-battle action, the fallout of an opposing Pokémon’s move will cause you to stumble or fall. You’re free to get close to enemy Pokémon, enemy trainers or just physically run away from the battle. These features create more dynamic Pokémon battles and add a realistic feel to the gameplay.
How the Pokémon behave is by far my favorite feature from Pokémon: Legends Arceus. Wild Pokémon are divided into three different personality types: those that ignore you, those that run from you and those that attack you. Pokémon that are indifferent will let you walk right up to them, making it easy to observe them and watch what they do. Skittish and aggressive Pokémon run or attack you, but with some effort, you can sneak and get close enough to see what they’re up to. And of course, Pokémon have to sleep just like the rest of us. If you’re lucky enough, you can find a Pokémon sleeping peacefully. You can also throw berries and other treats for wild Pokémon, which they will happily munch on. Besides wild Pokémon, you can play with your own Pokémon as well! I love to send my team of Pokémon out and watch what they do. Some of my Pokémon prefer to lay down and take a nap, and some talk to each other.
Shiny hunting in this game has massively diverged from how it is in the mainline Pokémon games, and players have expressed their happiness with the update. Shinies are found in the overworld and even sparkle and make a little twinkle sound when seen. Massive outbreaks that spawn large quantities of the same Pokémon offer higher shiny spawn rates and flying around makes it easier to see more Pokémon at a time. These changes have made it less difficult to find shinies. My friends and I have already caught a few among ourselves.
The boss battles in Pokémon: Legends Arceus are something I never expected from a Pokémon game. In these special battles, players dodge the boss Pokémon’s attacks while throwing calming balms at the Pokémon. Each battle ramps up in intensity, culminating at the end of the game with a battle against Dialga or Palkia. And the battles are pretty tough. I just finished the base game, but I’ve been told there’s an even tougher boss in the end game — it is Pokémon: Legends ARCEUS, after all.
And after all this, there are still a billion other great additions to the game beyond the main story. There are multiple types of collectible items scattered all across the map that players have to find. There are 107 hidden wisps you have to find if you want to catch Spiritomb. Each unique alphabetical form of the Pokémon Unknown is needed to complete the Pokédex. Old verse pages provide extra lore and are hidden in the ground, which you have to sniff out when riding on Ursaluna. You can catch mythical Pokémon and collect plates in the end game content. There’s an endlessly long list of side quests. And, of course, every player wants to catch them all to fill up their Pokédex.
It seems Pokémon: Legends Arceus has also impacted the Pokémon games’ formula. The newly announced Pokémon Scarlet and Violet games are described on the official Pokémon website as “an open-world game that players of any age can enjoy.” It’s further explained that “various towns blend seamlessly into the wilderness with no borders. You’ll be able to see the Pokémon of this region in the skies, in the seas, in the forests, on the streets—all over!” Fans’ warm welcome to the first Pokémon open-world game seems like it paved the way for a new norm for Pokémon games going forward, and I couldn’t be happier for it.