The short answer is yes, but it is more complicated than that. I am extremely excited for the new direction of the games (Pokémon Legends: Arceus) but I am also very worried.
Don’t Fix What’s Not Broken
For 25 years now, the Pokémon games have retained their familiar structure. You start in the first town and explore the region while gaining badges and abilities to progress forward. Each generation added a new region and new Pokémon, but the formula was the same.
Of course, there have been spin-off titles like the Mystery Dungeon series, Pokémon Snap, and even Pokémon Go but the mainline games have stayed mostly the same. That’s not to say there isn’t any room for improvement, but I’m not sure that a full formula change is the right move.
If you look at a franchise like Final Fantasy, you’ll see a franchise that, in my opinion, shouldn’t have left their turn-based roots. The newer games are great, but I miss the old days of the series.
I feel like that very same thing could happen here. Pokémon Legends Arceus: will still have turn-based battles, but wild Pokémon encounters will be different. It doesn’t look like you’ll be battling gym leaders or progressing through a linear region, either.
Instead, you’ll observe Pokémon behavior and throw your Poké Ball at the right moment. To me, this feels a little too much like the Let’s Go games, which many had their beef with. It can be difficult to say how this game will turn out.
Finally An Open-World Pokémon Game
This is the part of the game that I am most excited about. I have always wanted to see Pokémon become a full-fledged open-world RPG. At the same time though, I don’t want them to lose sight of what the franchise is.
What made the Wild Area in Sword and Shield so great was that it gave you that open-world within a classic Pokémon region. While a fully open-world Pokémon game sounds great on paper, I’m not confident that the execution will be exactly what we all hope for.
If Pokémon Legends: Arceus can maintain the charm of Pokémon, I think it will turn out fine. I will also point out that while I’m excited for this title, I hope they continue with mainline games of the same classic formula. Pokémon Legends Arceus could be an amazing spin-off title, but if the days of the Pokémon we know and love are over, I will be pretty upset.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus Should Be Its Own Series
Rather then rebranding the mainline Pokémon games, I think it would be wise to make “Pokémon Legends” its own series. Taking place at the beginning of the Sinnoh region, this game will give us more insight in the region’s history and allow us to live through it. I think they could do that to every region and give us the chance to dive deeper into Pokémon lore.
If there’s one thing the Pokémon games have always lacked, its an in-depth story. Pokémon Legends: Arceus is Game Freak’s chance to deliver a phenomenal prequel experience for the Sinnoh region. If they keep that going, they could explore more regions in-depth like that and it would be fantastic.
High Hopes But Low Expectations
For me, it is important to keep my expectations in check. When it comes to Pokémon, it can be a hit or miss for me. I will always love the franchise, but things always happen differently than I expect.
All I can hope for with this title is that they put a lot of heart and soul into it. I hope they can finally listen to what their fans want and make up for a lot of Sword and Shield’s shortcomings.
By now, hopefully Game Freak can also make a game that looks like it belongs on the Switch and not a handheld device. It would be a shame to have Pokémon Legends: Arceus end up looking like Sword and Shield did. They still have plenty of time to work on it, so hopefully it will be able to get the polish and shine it deserves.
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