For the last two months, I have been slowly chipping away at Pokémon Legends Arceus. I’ve written in the past about my inability to finish longer games and that’s part of the reason why it’s taken me so long to get through the game’s main campaign. I still have post-game content to get into, but I feel like now is a good time to share my thoughts. Unlike my other reviews, I broke this up into mini sections where I share what I liked or disliked.
What I liked – The “open-world”
I put “Open-World” in quotations because while Pokémon Legends Arceus is pretty open, it’s a very linear story. The plot moves you from area to area without too many deviations. However, there is a lot to discover when you choose to do so.
Like the older games, a lot of areas are “gated” and you’ll need to obtain a certain Pokémon to get around. I liked that they stuck with that approach. It’s fun to return to areas with the ability to now venture off into areas you couldn’t before.
What I didn’t like – The invisible walls
This might appear like an open world to explore, it doesn’t feel that big. I’m not sure if this was a limitation of the hardware or just a design decision that wasn’t thought through. Fine, I can’t get past these mountains or venture further into the sea, but, oddly, I can’t move to different areas in a more streamlined way. Each part of the map requires you to load into the area, and it’s a disappointment.
What I didn’t like – The really poor draw distance
Sure, this is an open world but it can’t handle too many things on the screen. Moving around, you will regularly see trees or other large objects magically load onto the screen. Yes, the further away objects take time to load into the environment, but you also have close-up foliage that will just magically appear. I was expecting that this issue would get fixed in a later patch. Unfortunately, two months since launch and it doesn’t look like this can or will be fixed.
What I liked – The collecting of Pokémon and filling out your Pokédex
I enjoyed collecting Pokémon and adding information to the Pokédex. Just collecting a Pokémon doesn’t give you all the information you need to know about it. The game encourages you to not only collect multiple versions of the same Pokémon but to get into as many battles as possible. The more you do, the more information you obtain. Once a Pokémon is at info level 10, you now know everything you should know about it.
This was a lot of fun because they do a good job of mixing up the requirements in gathering the necessary information. Maybe you need to use a specific attack a set number of times. Other times, you may need to catch a Pokémon without being seen. I hope this way of filling the Pokédex continues in Violet/Scarlet because it’s a lot more fun.
What I liked – Crafting
I can’t remember if any previous Pokemon game incorporated crafting. In Legends Arceus, you learn to craft your own Pokeball, potions, and other items by gathering resources across the land. When I was getting low on balls, I would simply try to find the items I needed close by instead of returning to camp to buy them. You earn the recipes to craft more items as your player’s rank improves. I didn’t reach max level there, so I’m curious just how deep this goes
What I didn’t like – Your inventory
The only downside to collecting items for crafting is that your inventory is incredibly small. Yes, you can upgrade your satchel so you can carry more different items, this upgrade system is extremely expensive. Each time you wish to increase your satchel’s size, you need to visit one particular person. Since they are in Jubilife Village, the hub town, you must return there to pay him to expand it by one slot.
What’s further frustrating is that every time you do this, it gets more expensive. So, where I was saving credits crafting my own balls and potions, everything I was earning was then used to make my satchel larger. At one point, I was spending over 20K in credits to open a new slot.
What I liked and didn’t like – Pokémon attack humans!
I’m a little torn with this one. I think it’s cool that startled Pokémon can hurt you, but it sometimes got a bit frustrating. It makes sense for these wild Pokémon to be scared and to protect themselves. It was the times when I’m just trying to get through an area and I had no interest in bothering them that I would get annoyed when I get attacked.
If you get attacked enough times in a short time, your character faints, you lose some items and wake up at the nearest campsite. There is an online aspect to this where you can find satchels containing items from other players’ games. So, if you find theirs, you send it back. This means some random person can find what you lost and return it to you. Yes, it’s very likely you’ll get back what you lost but the whole point of your character fainting wasn’t that fun.
What I hope I’ll enjoy – The post-game content
When the credits rolled in Pokémon Legends Arceus, it took me just over 28 hours to get there. From everything I’ve read online, there is still a lot of end-game content for me to discover, specifically completing the game’s Pokédex. I’ll play for a bit but I do see myself shifting to other games on my plate. If new content is added over the next couple of months, then I’m more likely to return to this world.
What I wished was in this game – Voice dialogue
I don’t understand how after 25 years, we still don’t have a core Pokémon game with full-voiced characters. Sure, Detective Pikachu had some voice acting, but that’s not quite the same thing. I wasn’t too keen on the game’s main plot, I think voiced characters might have helped. There are a lot of different characters and the game gives them each unique personality. However, I still felt like it was a missed opportunity.
Fine, you don’t have to go the full audio route, but the cutscenes and major plot points would have been so much more enjoyable. I’m also fine if our character is a silent protagonist. I seriously doubt Pokémon Scarlet/Violet will feature voice dialogue for the human characters. It’s something that Game Freak should seriously consider doing.
Pokémon Legends Arceus was a lot of fun
I enjoyed myself with Pokemon Legends Arceus. The quality of life improvements is the biggest factor for why I had a lot of fun. The variety in environments and the many secrets I found (or didn’t find) also kept me wanting to further explore. I can see them taking this aspect and going even
Apart from what I covered above, the only other thing worth mentioning was the “boss” battles. I found them fairly repetitive. They all incorporated the same mechanic of your character tossing bags filled with a specific scent to weaken them. Then, you can use your Pokémon to deal further damage. It would have been nice if they changed them up, even just a little.
Unfortunately, finishing this game doesn’t get me more excited for Scarlet/Violet. I got my fix of Pokémon for the time being, so I could use the break. I just don’t see myself wanting to jump into a new Pokémon experience unless it’s something groundbreaking and unique. We’ve had a lot of Pokémon over the last year and I fell off of Sword/Shield pretty quickly that I never bothered to finish it.