Pokemon Legends: Arceus

Cover Art - Pokemon Legends Arceus
Pokemon Legends Arceus sees you building the first Pokedex of the Hisui region. In a first for the mainline games, there are two major differences to the adventures we expect.

First, you are exploring the past at a time when Pokemon and people didn't work closely together. Second, you are exploring an open world where Pokemon can target you!
Platforms Nintendo Switch
Developer Game Freak
Publisher Nintendo
Player Count 1
HomePage https://legends.pokemon.com/en-us/

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Journal Entries

January 31st, 2022

Friday morning I had some shopping to do, so I took the opportunity to drop into EB Games. I had a copy of Pokemon Legends: Arceus to pick up!

The wait for Pokemon Legends: Arceus has been a funny one for me. On one hand, a ‘modern’ Pokemon game is something that has been needed for a long time.

On the other, the simple nature of the originals has appeal, especially for casual players. The vibe of a ‘Breath of the Wild’ Pokemon game was looking like a blessing and a curse!

20220131 - Pokemon Legends Arceus - Strange things happening
Not quite the blood moon, but ominous anyway!

But I got the chance to start playing, and so far, everything is going well. The open-world feels more like the demo for Monster Hunter Stories than Breath of the Wild.

There was the standard RPG exposition dump for the first hour. I did get to see the starters though. The choices were a surprise as I have been trying to keep away from spoilers.

But one of the choices is Rowlet. Since Pokemon Moon, I have loved the little guy and always name mine Owlsley. No Daredevil easter egg reference – I just always liked the name.

20220131 - Pokemon Legends Arceus - Of course I am picking Owlsley
Hello, Owlsley!

I am about 3 hours in, which for a game that came out at the tail end of a major project is pretty good for me. The pacing has been alright, and the story twists have raised my eyebrows a couple of times already.

Even though many would have already spoken about a lot of the story in-depth, I am going to remain vague. I can still imagine plenty of people that want to find out things for themselves.

While Pokemon Legends: Arceus is mechanically a very different Pokemon game. That said, it’s also very much familiar to long time players.

Badges and their benefits have been replaced with research rankings, for example. While the ways of doing things have changed, the core basics are very much still felt.

20220131 - Pokemon Legends Arceus - Research is the new challenge
Research is the new challenge

So if like me you don’t have a lot of time to play Pokemon and are worried it is too different, have hope. I can see Pokemon Legends: Arceus actually being a lot of what we hoped for.

There is a lot of grinding, like all Pokemon games. The way it looks to be shaping up though, this can actually be your ‘light’ play session goals.

The story beats all look pretty well telegraphed. This means you can plan to start the bigger game areas on your timetable. I am pretty sure I can confirm this theory with only another couple of hours of play.

And while I do that, I am going to see if I can start an Eevee gang to take on Pokemon Legends: Arceus with!

20220131 - Pokemon Legends Arceus - EEVEE
I was so excited when I saw Eevee. I wonder how evolutions will work?

February 7th, 2022

It was late Saturday night when I finally finished work for the week. I had made up my mind to play something. It was too late for a board game, but some Animal Crossing perhaps? A put a bit more of a dent in Horizon Zero Dawn?

I realised I hadn’t picked up Pokemon Legends: Arceus again since last week. Grinding away at some research and pottering around sounded like a great idea!

Kick back for a half-hour or so, let the mind unwind, and call it a night. Great plan.

20220207 - Pokemon Legends Arceus - The Request Board
The new Requests Board. I couldn’t resist the Planning parallel though.

It was a smidge over two hours later that I realised Rabbit had nodded off. Netflix was asking if someone was still there for who knows how long.

I did a couple of small errands (side quests), including finding lost items. It turns out in Arceus if you get knocked out, some items can appear in other players games. Find and return these satchels, and you get a little bonus.

It’s a very non-invasive and optional way of ‘online play’ that I don’t mind at all. It’s not that I am against online play, I don’t want it in my face when I am trying to solo play though.

20220207 - Pokemon Legends Arceus - Lost and Found
Random little hunts that you can take or leave

All this exploring allowed me to get to a Two Star Rank – progress!

I also got to evolve a few more of my Pokemon. Owlsley has evolved into Dartrix, so looks like a trendy professor. I am looking forward to the final evolution into Decidueye, where Owlsley looks like a Lord of the Rings ranger!

Pokemon Legends: Arceus has a different take on evolutions than other Pokemon games. When evolution criteria has been met, you have the option of evolving your Pokemon.

The animations do look better than ‘flashing between two forms’ from previous games. They do look rather sinister though!

202202070 - Pokemon Legends Arceus - Evolution is terrifying
Starly evolving looks like the stuff of nightmares!

Speaking of the graphics, there has been a lot of talk about the quality of Pokemon Legends: Arceus. Digital Foundry’s John Linneman pointed out the art direction fit more in 1999 than 2022.

It’s hard to find fault with this argument. Games like Breath of the Wild and Mario Odysee make the newer Arceus look slightly wrong on the Switch.

The graphics are serviceable and generally don’t get in the way of gameplay. Spotting collectibles and draw distance are a factor though.

Five hours in, and I have found one mushroom and one piece of wood – items that should be plentiful. They blend into the surroundings too well.

20220207 - Pokemon Legends Arceus - The graphics work but are not what you expect from AAA games
Gameplay is amazing but graphically Arceus doesn’t feel like a modern game

Other resources stand out for miles though – it’s inconsistent. Pokemon also sometimes feel like they phase in and out if you turn around too quickly. And no, I don’t mean Drifloon that does actually phase in and out.

I’m not trying to come down on Pokemon Legends: Arceus. The gameplay is good enough that I got drawn in for two hours for a ‘quick’ grind session.

But ignoring that Game Freak still has things to learn in making a ‘modern’ game would be a disservice. Pokemon Legends: Arceus is great, but if they had some help maybe from the Breath of the Wild team it could be fantastic.

That said, the gameplay (at least this early in) is still more than enough to draw me into the game world. At the end of the day, this immersion is what makes games amazing. Game Freak has a little bit of clean up on the immersion-breaking aspects for next game.

20220207 - Pokemon Legends Arceus - Slow and Steady Progress
Slow and steady progress. Seems how all my gaming is going at the moment!

February 14th, 2022

It was another small bout of Pokemon Legends Arceus this week. I didn’t try to do anything in particular. I spent about an hour trying to do some requests and exploring the area.

It doesn’t sound like anything exciting, but that’s exactly what I was after when I was playing. A bit of resource gathering, a few XP levels gained, and some research points added.

The whole vibe of the play session was pretty relaxed. That was until I found a couple of Pokemon that I want to catch!

20220214 - Pokemon Legends Arceus - Alpha Snorlax
I will give the Alpha Snorlax this – it’s very awake!

The first was an Alpha Snorlax that seems to stick around a particular spot. For no good reason, I want to catch this one. I will need to level up my team quite a bit more, and possibly optimise my moves and type combination.

Why? Because the idea of an aggressive ‘boss’ Snorlax makes me smile. No more, no less. It’s a silly little goal that makes me smile.

While exploring around for more Eevee’s I found something that I haven’t seen for a while – an area with Abra!

20220214 - Pokemon Legends Arceus - I want to catch an Abra
There is a herd of Abra here, but I can’t get anywhere near close enough

I tried for about 10 minutes, but I couldn’t get close enough. I haven’t had an Abra in my team since Pokemon Yellow. I would like to make a ‘psychic’ team to tackle Hisui for fun.

There isn’t a better reason – it’s all for giggles. In a similar vein, I want to make a team of Eeveelutionsas as well. Is there a gameplay benefit? Nope. But it’s fun and relaxing, and that’s what counts.

I should be trying to take on Kleaver, the first ‘boss’, to progress the story. I can see another five hours just generally pottering around though!