Hot off the heels of Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, the next Pokémon game is nearing release. Pokémon Legends: Arceus is set to come out on January 28 and will give players an entirely new Pokémon experience. There are a lot of longstanding series staples that this new entry is tweaking, scrapping, or overhauling entirely. As a result, the game may feel a bit unfamiliar to returning players. Here’s what you need to know about Pokémon Legends: Arceus before you play it.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus Takes Place in the Past
Unlike most Pokémon games — which tend to take place in an ambiguous time frame relatively near our own present — Pokémon Legends: Arceus is set in the distant past. So far in the past, in fact, that Poké Balls are just being invented and humans have yet to learn to get along with the collectable critters. The game takes place in the Hisui region which, over time, transforms into the modern Sinnoh region from the Pokémon Diamond and Pearl games.
Instead of working under a professor, you play as a member of the Survey Corps branch of Team Galaxy. Your overall goal is more or less the same: catch and catalog the Pokémon of the Hisui region. This time around, however, the way you’ll catch and interact with the local wildlife has drastically changed.
This Isn’t Your Standard RPG Pokémon Game
Most mainline Pokémon games are fairly standard RPGs, where you walk around an overworld and get into turn-based battles. Pokémon Legends: Arceus is set to shake up this format, by giving the franchise a Breath of the Wild makeover. The new game has an expansive world that players can interact with, and it’s teeming with wild Pokémon that actually act wild. That means that if you run up to an aggressive Pokémon, it will attack you until you faint.
In order to capture Pokémon, you’ll have to sneak up to them by crouching and potentially hiding in tall grass. You can then throw a Pokéball at them and hopefully catch them. If they manage to escape, you can throw out one of your own Pokémon and fight them.
Pokémon will react to your presence in different ways depending on if they are aloof, skittish, or aggressive. Different types of Pokémon will appear in different numbers in the wild, and you’ll find that they impose unique challenges on the player in order to catch them. You’ll also be able to dodge wild Pokémon attacks, as well as use items to help in each hunt.
There’s a New Priority-Based Battle System
The actual battles in Pokémon Legends: Arceus are getting a makeover as well. While the standard, turn-based move system is still in place, it has a few twists this time around. Instead of just cycling between your and your opponent’s turns, there will be a move priority system in the game. A visible queue shows whose turn is next, and you can influence this queue using move styles.
There are two new move styles that Pokémon can use for certain moves:
- Strong Style: Increases the damage the move does, but can cause your next turn to move down in priority
- Agile Style: Decreases the damage the move does, but can cause your next turn to move up in priority
It looks like moves will still be usable in their normal state, giving players a number of options on how to approach individual battles.
New Pokémon Classes: Alpha, Nobles, and Mounts
In addition to overhauling how wild Pokémon behave, there are three new variants of Pokémon coming in Pokémon Legends: Arceus. The first, Alphas, are Pokémon that are much larger than other members of their species and have glowing red eyes. Alpha Pokémon are extremely aggressive and powerful. They’ll require players to strategize how to best take them down. Once caught, however, they will prove to be powerful allies.
Noble Pokémon are similar to Alphas, in that they are extremely aggressive and powerful. However, you’re not able to just attack them with your Pokémon. Instead, your trainer will have to dodge their attacks and throw balms at them when you have an opening. You’ll eventually be able to battle them with your Pokémon after hitting them with enough balms. Expect each Noble fight to cycle between balming and battling them.
Lastly, there are three Pokémon that will act as mounts to help speed up your adventure:
- Wyrdeer: Will act as a land mount.
- Hisuian Braviary: Will let you take to the skies and fly.
- Basculegion: Will let you traverse the watery parts of the world.
Crafting and Material Gathering Will Play a Big Role
Pokémon Legends: Arceus is introducing material gathering and crafting to the franchise. Most of the equipment you use — yes, even Poké Balls — will require you to gather resources to craft them. Healing items like potions, lures, smoke bombs, Poké Balls, and more will all be craftable at your base camps set up around the region.
Your Pokémon will be able to help gather materials by breaking rocks and shaking trees. You can also defeat or catch wild Pokémon, as well as pick plants for resources.
Jubilife Village Will Be the Center of It All in Pokémon Legends: Arceus
Most Pokémon games see the player start out in their small hometown and progress linearly through the game’s routes and cities until they reach and beat the Elite 4. This time, however, players will instead call Jubilife Village their home. This bustling town acts as a hub that players will visit after each mission or outing. The Hisui region is split up into unique biomes that can be accessed by leaving Jubilife Village, similar to how the map works in Monster Hunter games.
While there are certainly big games to look forward to, there’s no shortage of smaller gaming experiences to enjoy this year either. Here are our picks for the small and indie games you should keep an eye on in 2022.
Nicolas Perez is a journalist who has played way too much Civilization 5. He’s rambling on Twitter @Nic_Perez_.