A Look at Pokemon Legends Arceus

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It’s been a couple weeks since Pokemon Legends Arceus released. I’ve been playing it pretty casually, on and off, during this time. I’ve put about 9 hours in so far, and have just reached the second area of the world.

I originally wasn’t going to buy Arceus since I still have two unfinished Pokemon games on the Switch. I also didn’t touch the remake of Diamond and Pearl due to this. I was interested in Arceus mostly because I heard it was trying to embrace an open world concept. I only decided on launch day to pick it up due to the overall enthusiasm I heard for it.

I went Oshawott because I’d already had a Rowlet starter in Sun and I rarely play water types. I also heard Oshawott was a good pick in the long run.

Nine hours in, I am glad I decided to play it. What I like about Arceus is the feel of the game – it’s the most organic-feeling Pokemon game I’ve played. And I really like it.

By organic, I mean, you play the part of not just a trainer but a researcher who seeks to obtain information and fill the Pokedex. While I’ve never filled a Pokedex before, that’s always mostly been my focus of gameplay for Pokemon games. I don’t care that much about battle and building the ultimate min-maxed team. I care about the exploration, collection and discovery that Pokemon games contain.

Arceus offers these concepts in spades. Set in a time before Pokemon and people lived hand in hand, there’s a lot to figure out. I’m just taking my time exploring and discovering new Pokemon as I go. I’m probably far slower than most players because I take my time to retrack over locations and finish up Pokedex entries as much as I can whenever I first find them.

I absolutely love the idea of gathering resources to make my own pokeballs, potions and other consumables. While there is a shop, the world of Arceus feels – again – more organic because you’re not just going to the commercialized Pokestop to heal up and buy what you need.

No, you’re out in a wild land where Pokemon are wild creatures (often dangerous) and you’re making your own way.

I like that there’s no gyms in this game, but rather fights against Noble pokemon. Again, a switch from the commercialized feel to an organic feel. These battles have mechanics and challenges that are new to pokemon boss fights that I really appreciated in the one that I did beat.

The other thing I like is the concept of being connected to just one village, rather than hitting up a bunch of places throughout the game. Arceus feels like it’s taken a page out of Monster Hunter by focusing on one town that you help out and build up over time.

I love the feeling of completing a quest for someone and watching the village change as I progress. If I catch a pokemon for someone in town, next time I see them, they have that pokemon out next to them. You start to see how people and pokemon are learning to work together for a better life. It’s a satisfying element that encourages me to keep an eye out for side quests – and there are a lot of them!

The one thing I do miss most in this game is Wondertrade, however – this was a feature of Pokemon games that I’d often lose hours in once I’d unlocked it. There is no Wondertrade in Arceus, and I understand why. The game is focused on the player making their own captures and discoveries. To have Wondertrade there to shower players with pokemon they have not yet discovered on their own defeats the purpose of the game.

So while I miss the fun of sending off random pokemon to get random pokemon back, I accept why this was a design choice. It’s probably a good thing for me, because I don’t have Wondertrade to sidetrack me!

One area of the game that’s been a hot topic, apparently, are the graphics. It feels like Arceus has tried to imitate Breath of the Wild in their high contrast lighting and shading choices. I took note of it the moment I started to play – while it doesn’t ruin the game for me, it is sometimes hard on the eyes, IMHO. Especially when you’re running around at about sunset and there’s some pretty sharp color glare going on there.

I don’t think the game looks bad by any means, but I could have gone for something a little more gentle in the color contrast department. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But it’s not going to stop me from enjoying the game for all that it offers.

Hopefully, this will get me back on track to play some of the previous games I haven’t beat on Switch. For now, I’m just doing my own thing casually in Arceus, and I haven’t really found anything to dislike about it (so far).

7 responses to “A Look at Pokemon Legends Arceus”

  1. I still haven’t finished it, I got a bit bored.

    I wonder how the endgame will look like. For example in Shield I could go on and on breeding, PvPing. Here I guess you can just keep polishing the Pokédex. 🤷🏻‍♂️

    Liked by 1 person

      • Aside: if you play Triangle Strategy, releasing March 4 I think, I’d like to see your impression on it. But of course, no obligation and play what you like when you like. I just know there will be write-ups hitting the gaming blogosphere in the next few weeks and I’m eager to read’em before I buy it myself. I love the HD-2D pixel art and hope the gameplay isn’t too hard and story isn’t too convoluted (political).

        Liked by 1 person

        • I really do want to try Triangle Strategy at some point being a tactics fan, but I have way too many games on my plate right now to pick up yet another new one. Plus, I try to hold out for sales if I can. There is a demo out already that I’ll probably try before I pick up the game – if I can find the time! I’m also a fan of the HD-2D type art. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

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