Pokémon Legends Arceus is now out, and players around the world are learning its several nuances and intricacies as they lose themselves in the very first open world Pokémon game ever. However, in spite of this being a Pokémon game – and one with a fairly long onboarding process at that – there’s a surprising amount it doesn’t tell the player upfront. Some of this has to do with just how far reaching the results of the shakeup to the Pokémon formula can end up being. Others are more obvious things that are, for whatever reason, not that well explained. Whatever the reason, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes in Arceus – and we’re here to tell you some of it.
It feels excellent to actually aim and throw your Pokeballs in this game yourself – kind of helps you live out that fantasy of being a Pokémon trainer and acting out like the characters in the anime do. However, if for whatever reason you don’t find dual analog aiming satisfactory, the good news is you can enable gyro assist aiming too – you’d just have to go into the Settings menu to do it. If you don’t like motion controls but want to tweak the analog stick aiming sensitivity, you can do that instead as well. You’re gonna be throwing a lot of stuff in Legends – that’s actually your primary form of interaction with pretty much anything actually. So you’ll want to make sure it feels right to you.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF POKEBALLS WEIGH DIFFERENT
No, you’re not crazy, the different Pokeballs you have actually do all weigh different. A Heavy Ball is, as the name implies, heavier than a standard Pokeball, while a Feather Ball is far lighter. This manifests itself in when you throw the balls too – Heavy Balls don’t go as far as regular Pokeballs go, and Feather Balls are best suited to catching things way off in the distance, or in the air. Use the right Pokeball for the right situation!
You’re going to be catching a lot of Pokémon in Legends – you actually kinda have to, there’s no other way to complete your Pokédex. But when you’re catching that many you will also eventually need to start releasing them – en masse at that. Initially, Legends only offers the option to release one Pokémon at a time, but after you have filled up three pastures (this game’s version of Boxes), make sure to go and talk to the lady who manages the pastures. She’s gonna make the mass release option available to you, saving your a lot of tedium and pain along the way.
Legends entails the most dramatic overhaul to Pokemon’s long established battle system ever – and with that comes a totally new stats system for your Pokémon. Gone are hidden values like IVs, and the often obtuse EVs that went into raising a Pokémon the way you wanted it to. Instead, your Pokémon can gain up to +10 modifiers for each of its six statistics. You can raise any of these at any time by using Grit items, which you can get by battling, catching, and/or defeating Alpha Pokémon, as well as by releasing Pokémon (another reason Mass Release is such an important feature). Make sure to use these to buff up your Pokémon! Otherwise they’re gonna be far weaker and more underpowered than they need to be.
Pokémon Legends’ maps are huge and sprawling, and thankfully the game makes a fast travel feature available to you a few hours in – or that’s what you might think. It’s actually possible to use that fast travel feature any time you want, including before the game tells you you can do it. Just… pull up the map and fast travel to wherever you want. Eventually the game will tell you you can do, and you’ll be laughing at having beaten it to the punch.
MORE CUSTOMIZATION OPTIONS
When you start playing Legends, the amount of customization options you get for your character can be shockingly lacking, especially for hair styles. However, the game doles out and unlocks new options fairly regularly – pretty much after every story mission for clothing actually. Additionally, there are specific side and main quests that make more options (for clothing and hairstyles) available still, that are clearly telegraphed to the player as well. So if at the start of the game you find no clothing or hairstyle appealing to you, don’t despair. More are going to be made available to you soon.
POKÉDEX PAGE COMPLETION BONUSES
Pokémon Legends tasks you, the player, with creating the first Pokédex ever, cataloging everything there is about Hisuian Pokémon in the process. But doing so has actual gameplay benefits too – if you level up a specific Pokémon’s Pokédex page to 10, you actually raise the chances of encountering a Shiny version of that; complete every single research task for a given species, and you increase the odds further still. For at least your favorite Pokémon species, it’s not a bad idea to finish all their research tasks, assuming you care about Shinies.
ALPHA POKÉMON RESPAWN
Arguably the single best thing about Pokémon Legends are the Alpha Pokémon – super sized, super powerful variants of existing Pokémon that are extremely aggressive and capable of one shotting your team. Alpha Pokémon lead to some thrilling battles and hilarious overworld encounters and can also be a great addition to your team. Which is why we’d understand if you became sad over accidentally knocking one out when you didn’t mean to, for example. Happily enough, Alpha Pokémon respawn – if you defeated one, don’t worry. Just check back in the rough vicinity of where you ran into it the first time a little bit later, and you’ll get a second shot.
SHINIES REMAIN ON THE MAP
Alright, so this is probably a game changer for shiny hunters. Here it is – shiny Pokémon, once spawned, remain on the map. If, for example, you accidentally get accosted by a random hostile Wild Pokémon before you get the chance to nab that shiny you just saw, you have nothing to worry about! The shiny is still there – just return to where you were. The shiny Pokémon that spawned will remain on the map until you either leave the map, or cause it to despawn (such as by knocking it out or by causing it to run), so if you see one, take a deep breath and go fight it at your own pace.
Pokémon Legends finally integrates Pokémon into traversal across it’s open world. And it works pretty much every bit exactly as you may have always imagined it to be. This goes above and beyond the things the game explicitly outlines for you as well, to be clear. So yes, while you can use ride Pokémon like Sneasler to climb sheer cliffs or Braviary to glide to inaccessible outcrops, you might find yourself wondering what to do about the w giant rocks you often find on the maps blocking the way. The good news is, any big or heavy Pokémon in your party is capable of smashing them – just send one out near a rock and watch the magic happen. You’ll open cool shortcuts or get good loot by opening new paths this way.
In what might be my single favorite change to the series so far, your Pokémon no longer are limited to just four moves. Once a Pokémon learns a move, they know it forever. They can still only have four in their active move load out at any given time – but you can switch between moves at will, without having to worry about move tutors or TMs. Just remember to check your party screen – you can change the moves in your Pokémon’s active load out at any time from there.
EVOLUTION IS MANUAL
In older Pokémon games, your Pokémon would evolve automatically once they hit the right levels/friendship/affection/whatever other conditions were necessary for their evolution. Not so in Arceus. Once your Pokémon meets the conditions for evolving, you need to go into the party menu and evolve them manually. If you don’t, they’ll literally never evolve. Something to keep in mind!
CHANGE POKÉMON NICKNAMES
That party menu is going to be your friend in Pokemon Legends – in addition to being able to trigger evolution for your Pokemon, as well as change their moves at any given time, you can also go in and change your Pokemon’s nicknames whenever you want. You no longer get to name them right as you catch them, unlike in older games – but the feature is still here, for those of you who liked giving your Pokemon that personal touch.
Charms are items that take up a slot in your inventory – which in a game like Legends, which makes inventory space at such a premium, can sound like a problem. However, most charms have some extremely helpful effects, including one that buffs up player health (so your character can take more damage from wild Pokemon and the environment before getting knocked out), as well as those that can reduce the items you lose when getting kicked out, and ones that can protect you from status conditions. You can get Charms from Lucille in Jubilife Village, make sure to give her a visit.
Taking a leaf out of the Dark Souls playbook (seriously), when you die, you lose a lot of the resources and inventory you are carrying. However, if you are playing while connected to the internet, other players around the world can still find your lost items and return them to you – and similarly, while questing around the maps, you might find players’ lost satchels too, which you can then return to them. Doing so earns you Merit Points, which you can use to buy yourself items necessary for unlocking some of the rarest evolutions in the game.
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