Well, it turns out that good graphics and success do not always go hand in hand. And while everyone was enjoying the graphics in Horizon Forbidden West, I enjoyed the gameplay in Pokemon Legends Arceus and took my time savoring the game.
However, you probably also heard positive reviews about these Pokemon in abundance, so today I will tell you about how the game went for me, and about what upset me about it.
From the very first installments on the black-and-green gameboy to Sword/Shield on the Nintendo Switch, the main games in the Pokemon series have been pretty much the same game every time – a jRPG where you catch these cute pocket monsters, and they fight for you in turn-based battles.
At the very beginning, you met a Pokémon professor, he offered you to choose one starter Pokémon, and then you traveled from city to city collecting more Pokémon along the way and fighting NPC pillars. In each city, you had to pass tests in the Gym and collect some medals, and as the game progressed, you opposed the evil faction of some arrogant freaks, and in the end became the universally recognized master of Pokemon.
In Pokemon Legends Arceus, this formula was decided for the first time and thoroughly revised.
There are no more cities, only one hub village, and several small residential camps, purely for beauty. And there are no Gyms, no NPC pillars, and in general, you got into some past by going through the portal and ended up in a world that doesn’t really trust you.
The plot is no longer built around the freak faction, and it’s not that it has become much deeper, just once again – it’s not the same thing that we’ve seen for several generations in a row, although there are references to other games, especially Brilliant Diaomond/Shing Pearl there will be a lot.
The world of Pokemon Legends Arceus is divided into several very spacious zones, just like in Mario Odyssey, only more, and these zones have different climates everywhere, well, there are some Pokemon everywhere.
Some Pokemon are found literally everywhere, others are strictly in certain places. It even happens that there is one Pokemon, but of different colors, and also lives in different places. For example, blue Shellos lives in one place, and pink – in another.
We catch Pokemon as before with a pokeball, but now it can be done right in the game world and non-aggressive Pokemon are perfectly caught without a battle at all – you just need to sneak up on them unnoticed and throw a pokeball.
Aggressive Pokémon still need to be weakened in battle first, but the battles take place without being transferred to a separate location, and now it may be that several Pokémon are aggroed at you at once and you will have to fight with everyone.
Anyway, the main difference between Pokemon Legends Arceus and recent releases is that the game has finally become difficult again. Not hardcore, but you have to sweat.
Moreover, in addition to turn-based battles, there is now real action here – some legendary Pokemon will have to be calmed down in boss fights in the arena, where you run, roll, dodging their attacks, and throw bags at them.
However, I did not really like these moments in the game. First, it’s boring to just throw bags. Yes, you can still occasionally engage in a regular turn-based battle with these bosses, but this is not even necessary, but the pouches are a must. Basically, it’s like an action game with a single attack and a single defensive move. It’s boring, although I’ve gone through some of these bosses from the fifth time.
But the most interesting thing in the game is still catching Pokemon. You go through the story like this, and then you see – Pokemon frolicking in the grass, which you don’t have yet. And you start sneaking up to throw the ball, and he notices you and runs away, but another one attacks, and you’re like – oh you dog, I’ll show you right now!
It is also interesting to craft everything you need yourself and collect resources for crafting. It’s just like the early parts of the monster hunter, there are similar elements here, although the games are completely different in terms of gameplay.
Oh, and of course it’s worth mentioning the sidequests. Not that they are very interesting, but they are very related to the gameplay. In sidequests, you will be asked to either upgrade the Pokedex for some Pokemon to the maximum tenth level, or catch a certain Pokemon, or find someone (character).
Leveling up the Pokedex for each Pokemon is quite simple and, by the way, not stuffy at all. Each Pokémon has a list of tasks that can be done to earn points. Moreover, if you complete tasks with red arrows, then there will be twice as many points. The tasks are different: apply a certain movement, evolve, catch a Pokemon or defeat it. On average, a Pokedex for a Pokemon is pumped to level 10 in 5-10 minutes – during this time you at the same time understand the pros and cons of this Pokemon and decide whether you want to use it in your party.
In short, more than any other Pokemon title, Pokemon Legends Arceus gave me the feeling of being immersed in the world populated by Pokemon.
I have already spoken about the weak graphics and the lack of voice acting more than once. But the game has problems even in the gameplay, which, unfortunately, is also far from ideal.
Firstly, while all the innovations in Legends Arceus are really cool, there are still many elements of classic games that are missing here. In the same Gyms, there were cool puzzles, for example. Here, riddles are sometimes found in all sorts of cave temples, but there are very few of them.
Secondly, the ability to fight with real players is very lacking. This has generally been one of the important features of Pokemon from the very beginning of the series, but they are not in Arceus. It seems to me that some kind of DLC would be very useful here, which not only adds online battles, but also does something like what was in Sword / Shield, when you could see online players walking around the world in real time games and interact with them.
Here you can only find bags of online players whose characters have lost all their health – this is if something has nothing to do with Pokemon battles, namely with your character and does not apply to boss fights and any plot events. In the whole game, I only lost my health completely once, and then deciding to check if there was damage from falling from a great height (yes). In general, I don’t understand why I constantly have 10-20 other people’s bags lying around in the world – this is how you need to play.
Thirdly, the system of influence of speed on the turn order here leads to the fact that sometimes you move twice in a row or the enemy moves twice in a row. You can even specifically make movements fast or, on the contrary, slow, but strong, which seems to be cool at first, but after 40 hours of playing, I think that this is still superfluous. Most of the fights here are one-on-one, and the ability to walk twice at a time is perceived rather as cheating, either on your part, or on the part of the enemy. And since you already see the order of moves on the screen, this does not add any serious depth.
In general, I like the classic combat with rounds a little more. There are quite a few actions (such as using a first aid kit) were always performed first in the round, there were also moves like Quick Attack that affected the turn order. In Pokemon Legends Arceus, in my experience, the Quick Attack move has become completely useless.
Fourthly, the mechanics with limited inventory and pumping it for money frankly pissed me off at some point. Then I really realized that you should only carry items that you can use with you, and put all the ingredients for crafting in a box. This partially helped, but still there are annoying situations when you walk around the game world like that, trying to pick up some kind of flower, but you don’t have a place in your inventory. Or a cool Pokemon attacked you, you defeated him, and resources fell out of him, but you can’t take them. And you have to teleport to the camp, unload the excess, return … And just why?
Yes, there are games where limited inventory adds tension, as in Resident Evil, or promotes immersion, as in Deus Ex. But here, given the huge amount of resources and various items, it only infuriates. And pumping is only through money, thanks to at least in-game ones, and every time they want more and more money, like in No Man’s Sky. Get a new inventory slot for 25-30 thousand? No thanks, I’d rather buy pokeballs.
If you could upgrade your inventory by… well, I don’t know… completing story missions, catching certain Pokémon, or even finding bags of different sizes, it would be much more interesting.
Finally, fifthly, after the first credits, the pace of the game seriously sags, and this is not even the end. It’s just that all the final missions are concentrated exclusively around catching legendary Pokemon, which are not so easy to catch. I will clarify – it is not easy to catch, but not to win. But victory here is like defeat, your hero makes a sad face, they say, it was necessary to catch. Well, what if these creatures have already destroyed the entire supply of pokeballs, and do not want to be caught?
Yes, you need to paralyze them there or something, and this is also some kind of challenge (and yes, I caught them), but just to catch a certain Pokemon in a certain place and strictly through the battle is not as interesting as wandering through the fields and forests, look for those Pokémon that are personally interesting to you, and sneak up on them with stealth in the grass.
Well, since there are no battles with other people, the endgame ends up being more boring than in the same Sword/Shield or Brilliant Diamond/Snining Pearl remakes. That is, yes, the main gameplay is much more interesting, and the endgame is the other way around.
Before these first credits, I played Pokemon Legends Arceus for about 35 hours – and all this time I literally enjoyed the game.
And after… well… let’s just say, I’m not sure that I’ll catch all the Pokemon right, as I said, just starting to play Legends Arceus. We’ll see. While it’s still fun to play, but not the way it was before the credits.
Sidequests are also not very exciting for me, because. I have already done all the interesting ones.
And this, in general, is not so bad – if you enjoyed the game for 35 hours, then these 35 hours will not be thrown anywhere simply because then it got worse. Those 35 hours of pleasure were still in your life.
But if the game just ended on these credits, then it would leave a pleasant aftertaste, and so the game tells you – well, now come on, you have a few more hours of grinding and catching legendary Pokemon, which are many times more boring to catch than ordinary ones who frolic merrily in the grass.
Definitely, now the developers should release a game where there will be the same interesting core gameplay as in Legends Arceus, and the same interesting end-game / post-game as at least in Sword / Shield with pvp battles, raids on strong Pokemon and so on. Well, the Russian language would be added, of course.
However, I personally still think that Legend Arceus is much cooler than both Sword/Shield and Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl, and by itself — cooler than Let’s Go Pikachu/Evee. Well, because I am deeply convinced that the game should be as interesting as possible right from the very beginning, and not after 30 hours. And Legends Arceus is just such a game.