What is Pokémon Legends: Arceus?

Many fans were left confused by the unveilment of Pokémon Legends: Arceus earlier this year. Since the announcement much more information about this upcoming game has come out. Here are four quotes from Pokémon Presents 8.18.21 that shed light on what it will be like to play Pokémon Legends: Arceus.

What is Pokémon Legends Arceus CoverEarly this year a very unorthodox Pokémon game was announced. Many Pokémon fans were excited when Pokémon Legends: Arceus was announced alongside the upcoming Diamond and Pearl remakes. That excitement came with confusion. Many are still confused about the nature of this new kind of Pokémon game.

It has been a few months since the announcement and much more information has come out regarding Legends: Arceus in the meantime. In this article I will share some insight about this game, mainly based on the video below.

Pokémon Presents | 8.18.21

A few questions that I had in mind when examining the sources were, what is this game’s identity? What is it that one does in this game that will make me wake up in the morning wanting to play it? And is it open world?

I have selected four quotes from the above video that I think are helpful in understanding what playing Pokémon Legends: Arceus will be like.

Action RPG

Pokémon Legends: Arceus is a brand-new title that opens new doors for the Pokémon series by fusing action with RPG elements.”

I take this to mean that it’s a Pokémon action RPG, but the narrator doesn’t commit to saying that explicitly. What wasn’t said is more interesting. The narrator did not confirm or deny Legends: Arceus being open world. That may suggest that it has a lot of linearity, which some consider contrary to the term, open world.

Many also think that cell barriers come into play when defining the term, open world. The image below shows that there are names for different areas of the map. However, there is no clear indication of whether the map is divided into separate sections by loading screens, like in Dragon Quest XI. Or if the player is able to walk freely between most exterior cells without passing through a loading screen, like in Skyrim. Personally I envision the map functioning like the Wild Area in Sword and Shield. Which would mean no loading screens between exterior cells.

In-game map of the Hisui Region.

In-game map of the Hisui Region.

Complete the Pokédex

“You’ll set out on an adventure with the goal of completing the first-ever Pokédex for the Hisui region.”

Discontinuity alert, Professor Oak invented the Pokédex and this game most definitely takes place before his birth. Perhaps that is reconciled somehow. Maybe he travels back in time to give the player the Pokédex, or the term Pokédex may not refer to the device in this case.

So, the traditional Pokédex completion objective will return in this game. I wonder if that is its own objective or if it is part of the main storyline objective.

Artistic map of the Hisui Region.

Artistic map of the Hisui Region.

Survey Assignments

“Once you’ve completed a survey assignment, return to the village and report the results to whoever requested the job.”

Jubilife Village seems to be used as a hub of sorts to proctor objectives. It sounds like the main function of Legends: Arceus is to receive survey assignments in Jubilife Village, complete the assignment in the wilderness, then report back to Jubilife Village. I don’t think that will be enough to keep players interested on its own. It would be like Skyrim with only radiant quests. The Pokédex objective will support it in some way, but I don’t think that’s enough either.

Mysterious footage restored! | Pokémon Legends: Arceus

A Main Storyline

“The Pokémon Arceus holds the key to this story, but what connection does it have to your adventure?”

As the title suggests, Arceus is the epicenter of this game’s storyline. At this point my major question is, are all these things (survey assignments, Pokédex, Arceus) part of the same objective, or are they separate objectives? If they are all part of the same main storyline objective then it needs to be great in order to carry this game. Dragon Quest XI’s main storyline successfully did that.

After seeing the first trailer, I thought Legends: Arceus would be something like Dragon Quest XI. A Pokémon RPG with a linear story in an open world. Upon revisiting that analysis I think it’s closer to an open world version of Mystery Dungeon.

We will find out on January 28th, 2022.

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