Pokemon Legends: Arceus Review thumbnail

Pokemon Legends: Arceus Review

Explore the world of Pokemon in a new way

Alex Legard

Reviewed by playing a Nintendo Switch on

Pokemon Legends: Arceus is rated Everyone by the ESRB

Pokemon Legends: Arceus is an innovative entry in the iconic series where you explore and catch Pokemon in a beautiful new region.

│ Just like in nearly all our reviews, you can watch Alex play Pokemon Legends: Arceus below so you can judge accordingly. ▶️

Pokemon Legends: Arceus screenshot 1
What is the purpose of the rift above Mount Coronet?

You are a trainer for the Survey Corps, an organisation of trainers whose purpose is to, you guessed it; survey the Pokémon of the Hisui region which is actually Sinnoh in the distant past when it was rare for people and Pokemon to live together. The Survey Corps provides you with a Pokedex for you to accomplish your mission: to catch and catalogue as many Pokemon as possible. You will make many friends such as the enthusiastic Professor Laventon as well as your rival Akari if you're a boy or Rey if you're a girl. In addition to the Survey Corps and Galaxy Team, the Hisui region is also home to 2 rival clans: the Diamond and Pearl clans. v1d30chumz 44-192-38-248

Pokemon Legends: Arceus is not all about catching Pokemon. You also have the chance to engage in exciting battles with powerful noble Pokémon. Kleavor is the first noble Pokemon and it attacks with large swings of its bladed arms and you have to dodge its attacks by rolling at just the right moment. You'll progress through the fight by throwing balls of Kleavor's favorite food and you'll also get a chance to challenge Kleavor in a good old Pokemon battle. Once you defeat it, Kleavor will be stunned for a while as you throw more food at it.

Pokemon Legends: Arceus screenshot 2
It wouldn't be a proper Pokemon game without Friendship nonsense

Pokemon Legends: Arceus lets you explore a few huge open areas like the Obsidian Fieldlands, Crimson Mirelands, and Cobalt Coastlands as well as the hub area Jubilife Village. Because you explore just a few areas on your adventure, it definitely reminded me of Monster Hunter in that respect. In fact, isn't the Survey Corps inspired by Monster Hunter's Research Commission? 🤔

Anyway, there are no random encounters in Pokemon Legends: Arceus. Instead, you'll see wild Pokemon wandering around in their natural environment then you can simply throw a Pokeball at any Pokemon and they might be captured or they might not. Specifically, different varieties of Pokemon have different ways that they can be captured. For example, some Pokémon run away when they see you while others are aggressive and will start attacking you and they cannot be captured when you're being targeted unless you send out a Pokemon to battle. Some Pokemon will just stand there snarling at you before you capture them; I'm looking at you, Bidoof!

Pokemon Legends: Arceus also features a crafting system which isn't entirely surprising but it is the first time we've seen one in a Pokemon game as far as I'm aware. If you've played a 3D open-world game before, it probably has a similar crafting system of some sort. Anyway, you can create potions, Pokéballs, and many other items which I haven't been bothered much to do because you can also just buy such items with money. That being said, the idea of collecting materials gives you a solid reason to harvest various trees and rocks. Some items provide very nice utility but aren't strictly necessary to progress through the game. For instance, cakes and berries can be thrown to distract your target Pokemon and smoke bombs can make it so you can't be seen so you can sneak forward more easily.

Combat in Pokemon Legends: Arceus is very much like in most Pokémon games as it still features turn-based battles. Moves can be super-effective or not at all depending on the move type and the opponent Pokemon's type. However, there are some key differences:

  • You can run around wherever you want in real-time
  • You can never fail to run away
  • You can battle many wild Pokemon at the same time if they're close together when you start the battle
  • The speed stat works very differently as it determines the move order and if you have a speed advantage, you can take multiple turns in a row
  • Your Pokemon are able to master moves and after they do, they gain the unique ability to use moves in the strong style or agile style: strong deals more damage but gives the enemy Pokemon more moves while agile is the opposite as you give yourself more moves but they deal less damage
  • Battles against Pokemon nobles like Kleavor which I already mentioned feature completely different mechanics
Pokemon Legends: Arceus screenshot 3
Fun fact: you are free to move around during battles

The main mechanic that dictates your progress through Pokemon Legends: Arceus is your trainer rank; of which, there are 8 (presumably in lieu of the number of gym badges you earn in any other Pokemon game). Trainer ranks are gained by catching and defeating Pokemon or completing other research tasks which are different depending on the type of Pokemon that you are researching.

Completing these research tasks lets you slowly finish your Pokédex which works a little differently than usual. Each Pokemon has a research stage that's between 0 and 10 which is equal to the number of research tasks you've completed. At level 10, that Pokemon's research entry becomes completed. Each Pokemon has around 20 tasks that you can choose from which are broken into categories like catching or defeating that Pokemon a certain number of times. This means that you don't have to complete every single research task. Instead, you only have to complete half of them. It still takes a very long time to obtain a completed Pokedex, though, so if I were a completionist, I would be a bit worried. I initially made a mistake thinking every single research task needed to be completed so I caught Starly 25 times and defeated it 25 more times and I did the same thing for Bidoof. That definitely soured my early game experience.

Pokemon Legends: Arceus screenshot 4
Whoever at Game Freak wrote this deserves an award

Pokemon Legends: Arceus is filled with cute little requests that you can do for the residents of Jubilife Village and other locations as well such as finding 3 nuisance Bidoof that are hiding throughout the village or investigating a little boy and his Drifloon on the beach. There are at least 50 different requests at the point of the campaign that I'm currently at which is a lot more than you could reasonably complete on a casual playthrough unless you're absolutely determined to go out of your way to finish them all. There are a few fun little mini-games as well. For example, there's a pop-a-thon where you pop as many balloons as possible by throwing Pokéballs!

Pokemon Legends: Arceus is a very fun Pokemon game and it has lots of things for you to do in the form of the main story, requests, collectibles, and Pokedex completion. However, working on the Pokédex is required to progress which takes a great deal of effort and unfortunately, that's going to be a turn-off for some players because of the vast amounts of time required to do so.

I'm excited to continue playing to find out what secrets are hiding in the vast Hisui region. If you've played Diamond or Pearl then you'll notice that the Hisui region and Sinnoh are the same. In the Obsidian Fieldlands, I went far off the beaten path and reached Lake Verity. The area is absolutely beautiful and has an amazing remastered soundtrack of the same area from Diamond and Pearl. While I stood there listening to the music, I couldn't travel across the water but I wondered what I might find on the island in the center of the lake.

Pokemon Legends: Arceus screenshot 5
What could possibly be on that island?

2 months ago, I reviewed Pokemon Shining Pearl and one of the things I mentioned is how similar it is to the original Diamond and Pearl. Pokemon Legends: Arceus still gives me déjà vu but it's not from other Pokemon games; it's from other 3D open-world crafting-heavy games like Monster Hunter: World, Breath of the Wild, and even New World. If you like those games and enjoy Pokemon then you're sure to dig what Pokemon Legends: Arceus has to offer although I wonder if Game Freak could have done things differently. After all, Pokemon Red and Blue are a couple of the best games ever made and they didn't make you forage to collect crafting materials.

Pokemon Legends: Arceus definitely provides a great experience with a novel take on the classic franchise but I still feel that grinding is not needed in a Pokemon game which I've always felt should primarily be about simply having fun in a laidback world.

  • + Clever and welcome shake-up for the classic tried-and-true Pokemon formula
  • + Intriguing story and charming NPCs
  • + Many different activities for you to do
  • - It's a bit too similar to other open-world games and could use more of its own identity
  • - Grindy elements can feel out of place
8.0 out of 10
Gameplay video for Pokemon Legends: Arceus thumbnail
Watch Alex play Pokemon Legends: Arceus
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