It’s no secret that a lot of fans had very strong opinions when the latest entry of the Pokemon franchise, Pokemon: Sword and Shield, released. And when the expansion pass for the games was announced, when the series had never seen DLC before, even more strong opinions emerged. Players were left feeling like something was missing from the game somehow, or the game did not have as many pokemon as they felt like it should have. However, if you are like me and really enjoyed the base game, the idea of a new expansion is probably a welcome thought. It has been a few days since the release of the Isle of Armor DLC, so let us take a step back and review some of the new features and figure out if it is actually worth it for you to pick up!
If interested, you can check out the Pokemon Sword and Shield: Isle of Armor purchasing information.
DLC Story spoilers will be elaborated on ahead.
Story – Kubfu, Your New BFF!
As advertised, this expansion mostly focuses on a legendary Pokemon Kubfu and your character’s journey to obtaining them. Upon entering the train station in Wedgehurst, you will find a newer addition to the game, a Galarian Slowpoke, blocking the way. You are instructed to catch the Slowpoke so the train can continue running. It is here that you are introduced to your new special rival for the expansion, and depending on which version you own, it will be different! Sword players will get Klara and Shield players will have Avery as the rival. You are challenged to a battle before arriving at the new map.
Upon arriving, you are met with Honey and Mustard, the owners of this dojo that you are presumed to be training at as a new student. Master Mustard will challenge you to a battle and after you beat him, he will give you (and the other students) three challenges to complete to be considered “passing” for that dojo. These three challenges consist of finding three very adorable Galarian Slowpoke running around out in the wild area to obtain your rival’s dojo outfit that has been stolen, finding locations and obtaining Max Mushrooms, and finally, defeat your rival (yet again) in another battle! Shortly after this, Kubfu will be granted to you… Whether you like it or not. And Kubfu is also going to be your new best friend… whether you like it or not. Master Mustard tells you that you need to become “best friends” with Kubfu and it’s up to you to figure out how! You do this by traveling with him to various places on the map and getting a nice view… and suddenly you’re friends!
Once you have obtained your new b-f-f, Master Mustard tells you that you need to go to either the Tower of Water or the Tower of Darkness and defeat your way through the levels at one of them so you can evolve Kubfu into Urshifu. You can only pick one, and it will determine what kind of abilities Kubfu will have when he evolves. The kicker to this is you can only use Kubfu when you are battling your way through the towers, so it is important to make sure that you level Kubfu to at least 70 when going through this part. (Assuming you have beaten the base game before the release, like I did). Something cool about Urshifu is that it has the ability to Gigantimax! In order to do this, you need to obtain sticky honey by doing another small quest with your returning best pal, Hop! Once you have the ability to gigantimax Urshifu, you will be challenged by Master Mustard once again, and this time he is “going all out” so be prepared! By doing this, you unlock restricted battling for practice as well as various rewards.
Ultimately, the story of the The Isle of Armor is kind of shallow. It had very cute moments at times, like finding those adorable Slowpoke or the funny characters that you come across. While I did find myself enjoying the time I spent going through, I did not find myself very attached to or caring about the characters much, despite how charming they were. Most characters had a unique design and touch to them, and even if I didn’t like them (As a Sword player, I had Klara and did not care for her whatsoever as a character) I still found them very distinct. If you are looking for a story, you won’t find a ton of depth here. Just a small plotline designed solely to give players Kubfu and have some cute moments along the way.
More Additions – It’s for aesthetics, man!
One of the more notable features that I noticed first and really adore, is after you obtain Kubfu and get sent off on your quest to be best friends, the first pokemon in your party will travel behind you in true Pokemon Yellow fashion. As one can imagine, a lot of hilarity comes from this depending on what you pick. I personally travel with an all-ghost team, so I got to see the adorable sight of a tiny Mimikyu following behind me or the hilarity of a Gengar floating around wherever I go. Part of me wanted to experiment with different pokemon solely for the purpose of seeing what they would look like following me around.
As stated before, one of the main selling points and additions is the legendary pokemon, Kubfu. The pokemon itself is very cute and is quite strong. It doesn’t exactly appeal to me personally—as I said earlier, I tend to travel with an all-ghost team as a personal preference. I am also not the biggest fan of having to challenge the towers with only Kubfu. It made sense with the story, but it left me, as a player, feeling very limited on strategies on how to tackle it.
An obvious addition in the Isle of Armor is the new wild area. The map is gorgeous and there are plenty of screenshot worthy places to see. I really got a kick out of seeing the new scenery as I rode around on my bicycle. In addition to the new scenery, The Isle of Armor also got the addition to over 100 new pokemon to catch and add to your handy dandy pokedex! This was my favorite part of it, personally. Riding around on my bike and seeing all the new pokemon hanging out in their natural habitats. From seeing the happy Swoobat flying around the caves to the giant Wailord swimming out in the ocean, I was absolutely enamored by watching them. It was something that reminded me just how much I loved the base game for this reason.
Players also gain access to a few new items. One of which being Max Soup, which is a new dish granting pokemon the ability to gigantimax. (Except for Urshifu, since he is apparently very picky and will only eat it with sticky honey). Players also receive new hairstyles and clothing options with a pass given to them pretty early on. There are also new exp. charm type items, new battle challenges after beating the game, and a new machine called the Cram-o-matic made by a student at the dojo. This machine will take in 4 random items and make more useful things like pokeballs or even more rare items!
Should you buy Isle of Armor?
In short, it depends. If you are like me and craving any excuse to dive back in and see all of your favorite pokemon in the wild area, fight a new story mode, or have a new area to take your preferred team through, then yes! However, like I stated before, the story does tend to be kind of shallow and it depends on your opinion of the new legendary pokemon. It is worth noting that players can trade pokemon with others that may have the DLC expansion even if they themselves don’t own it. If you are a player that simply wants the new pokemon and nothing else, then maybe consider just trading with a friend that picked it up. That being said, if you are a player that is looking for a new excuse to dive right back in where they left off and explore a new map then absolutely pick it up. It might be shallow, but there is still quite a bit to offer.