Pokemon Legends Arceus Review – A Step in the Right Direction
For years every Pokémon game has been the same formula. Travel from location to location, beat 8 gyms and defeat an evil corporation. And for years I have been pretty sick of it. Until today. Pokémon Legends Arceus sets a new stone in the path of the franchise. Taking a more open world and RPG approach that none of the previous games utilised. And I’ve got to say, I am pretty happy with it.
The new approach and mechanics really give the game a breath of fresh air compared to previous additions. With a gameplay loop and world that feels truly exciting. But is it the perfect game? No and I will get onto that later.
A New Loop:
Certainly, the biggest change that has been introduced here is the gameplay loop. It’s difficult not to mention previous entries in this matter. If you have played any of the previous games, you will know the gameplay mostly consisted of facing random Pokémon and trainers through the game and battling them, the first with none left loses.
In Pokémon Legends Arceus it takes a different approach. As you explore the open word, you will encounter different Pokémon with different move sets and abilities. You can sneak up on these and try and catch them, or you can go into open battle and weaken them with your own before trying to catch them. The idea of beating 8 gyms and a champion is completely removed, and this game focuses on completing the entire Pokedex. And the turn-based battling system is pretty much gone as well. So, if you play for those you probably won't enjoy this.
Honestly, I did not think I would have as much fun as I did with this new gameplay loop. And the biggest reason why is the Pokémon themselves. As each Pokémon has a different set of moves and abilities, every encounter feels truly different. Some moves being powerful and tricky to avoid, and some having simple counters. And this all makes the gameplay to stay fresh.
Is Pokémon Arceus Legends Repetitive?
But it does also bring in my first complaint. This being the missions. Instead of one main quest through the whole game, Legends Arceus offers you numerous main and side missions. The problem that I have with this is that they’re all essentially the same. All of them essentially come down to go to this location, catch this Pokémon and bring it back.
It very rarely strays from this path, and it does get very repetitive as you get further in and have encountered more Pokémon. For the majority of this game, you probably won’t mind this because of the variety of Pokémon that you face. From what I have played so far, I do feel like this is a saving grace. But I imagine that as you complete the game and get further into the endgame, this problem will become more prominent. This does concern me quite a bit in terms of replay ability in the long term. As I feel this game could suffer in this regard over a long period.
To answer the question of “Is Arceus Legends Repetitive?” Short term, no. From the start it is really fun and an absolute blast. Long term, I doubt it will last in terms of content.
A Story to Tell (No Spoilers, Don’t Worry!):
While on the topic of missions, I thought it would be good to mention the story. While also completely avoiding spoilers. From my experience the story was fine. I feel like fine is the best way to put it. There were many points here that I enjoyed, and many that were just a bit underwhelming.
For starters, I think the backstory and lore this game introduces is great. Learning about the Pokémon and people here, along with the events that make up the entire overarching story is pretty good. It is well fleshed out and quite interesting, and if you are a big fan of the games, I am sure you will love it.
But at numerous points in the game, it starts to become a bit messy. Different events and characters come up out of nowhere and with vague details as to why. The lack of speech I feel is a massive missed opportunity. And I didn’t care much for many of the characters. Most of it comes down to lack of character build up and just uninteresting plot points. But it is lack of speech that I wished they did have a different mind on. Speech could go both ways but it does feel like this game could benefit from having it.
A Sort of Open World:
I have already mentioned two of the big changes, being the gameplay loop and the story. And now onto the third, the world. Previous entries all were made up of multiple zones making one map. With loading in between. With Legends Arceus, it is a bit more open, but it still has a number of zones to acknowledge. This is something I am a bit mixed on, as I feel that it could easily be a true open world, but the decision to keep zones isn’t the end of the world. It does feel open, despite the fact that it is advertised as not being an open world.
The Pokémon that are scattered throughout the world truly make it feel alive. You’ll regularly encounter different types and versions, and it makes the world truly filling. But at points, especially when there are no Pokémon around, the world feels really empty. Visually it looks ok. Nothing amazing. From a distance it does like quite bad. And there is one glitch to take note of here, and it is that a lot of objects and actions from long distance don’t work properly. So, keep an eye out.
But my biggest complaint here is that I can’t stop the feeling that the world lacks just a bit. A lot of the areas look and feel very similar, and often I don’t see a need to return to many locations if I have already caught the Pokémon that inhabit it. And this all plays into my previous argument. In the long term, I can’t see this playing out that well.
New Pokémon to Encounter:
With every game there are always new Pokémon and variants for you to look out for. And Arceus Legends has a load of them. Ultimately, the designs come down to personal preference. I for one absolutely hate the new Dialga and Palkia lord forms. They are simply ugly and it really puts me off them.
A quick point here and it ties back into the world a bit. I think traversing it is quite good. As with previous entries, you can ride different Pokémon to move throughout the world. Like in Let’s go. And this makes it a lot easier to go around.
Now back to the designs. I am very mixed about a lot them. Some I feel are a bit lazy, with simple colour changes. And others I do like quite a bit. Like the new Zorua and Zoroark designs. But again, it is personal preference.
Other Minor Points:
I have a few more points I want to get off before I reach a verdict here. So, I am going to make it quick. The soundtrack I think is great. They always do a decent job when it comes to audio and Legends Arceus is no different.
Though I haven’t done much of the endgame yet, it doesn’t seem that thrilling or fleshed-out. Again, I don’t think this will do well in the long term.
A lot of people around me made it out that this game was quite difficult. It does get a bit challenging later on once again, but it is nothing that will fry your brains out with how difficult it is. Some NPC battles and larger Pokémon can be a bit rough, but I do welcome the challenge.
Graphics are very hit and miss. I didn’t have many issues with it but others have told me that they have had issues. It may be worth checking your Nintendo Switch’s graphic options.
That is about all I have to mention, so let’s go onto the verdict.
Pokémon Legends Arceus has been a pleasant experience for me, but it is certainly not perfect. I felt like the new changes and gameplay loop are a nice addition and a step in the right direction. But, as I have mentioned throughout this review, I do worry that this game will suffer when it comes to the long term. From what I have played, I do feel like once you have encountered most of the Pokémon and done most of the quests, this game will have very little replay ability. As this game focuses on the completion of the Pokedex. Once you have done it, there is little to be done. But this is something to come back to.
Overall, I am going to give Pokémon Legends Arceus a solid 7/10. Fun gameplay off the bat. But the story does bring that down a bit and I have doubts over replay ability. Got your own thoughts? Feel free to drop them down below. I hope you are all ready for the game storm that is coming with February, keep an eye out for a Dying Light 2 review over the next week or two.