During this week’s Pokémon Presents announcements, the Pokémon Company revealed a number of new details about Pokémon Legends: Arceus, the upcoming Nintendo Switch game set in the distant past at a time when humans and Pokémon did not yet live in “harmony” with one another. While Arceus is set to introduce multiple new kinds of Pokémon and a fresh story about how modern day Pokémon society came to be, today’s presentation also included a very inspirational and unexpected detail.
In Pokémon Legends: Arceus, you play as a young trainer from Hisui, the region known as Sinnoh in more modern games like Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl. Because Pokémon Arceus is set in an era where human knowledge about Pokémon was somewhat limited, players are tasked with venturing out into the wilderness, where they’re meant to study wild Pokémon in their natural environments before catching them in antique Pokéballs. All of this maps rather directly onto the other core Pokémon titles in the franchise, but this week’s presentation established how, in this game, some wild Pokémon will not simply stand around and wait to be enslaved by children.
While Pokémon partnerships and battles are still going to be an important aspect of Pokémon Legends Arceus, players will have to contend with the reality that wild Pokémon are perfectly capable of using their powers to harm humans, and will have to employ different tactics if they want to catch the monsters. A trainer taking too many direct hits from a Pokémon will lead to the child being knocked out and sent back to their camp à la Monster Hunter, and Arceus seems to have borrowed a few notes from other video games as well. The new footage shown this week also featured trainers leap/rolling to avoid attacks and hiding in the cover of tall grass to sneak up on wild Pokémon, both of which felt inspired by Guerilla Games’ Horizon: Zero Dawn.
Traditional batting and catching, which are still big parts of Pokémon Legends: Arceus, have always been a somewhat morally suspect element of the franchise that we gloss over by insisting that the Pokémon are all having fun being beaten to a pulp. Common sense and some of the third-party Pokémon games would clearly show you how that’s not the case, but you might not necessarily get that impression from the flagship titles’ focus on collecting.
There’s something very cool about seeing a Luxio whip lighting at a trainer trying to ensnare it, and not just because there’s a real possibility that the electrified dog wolf creature could win the fight against a human. In all likelihood, the game’s human vs. Pokémon encounters won’t be too difficult, but they imply the idea that humans actually have to put in some personal effort if they want to add new monsters to their teams. Higher leveled monsters might dispatch low-leveled trainers with a single hit, establishing why new generations of professors have been warning children about how dangerous the tall grass is, and why Pokémon training becomes important to people.
Little details like this and the introduction of new alternate forms for classic Pokémon have already made Pokémon Legends: Arceus a title worth looking forward to, and it’s going to be interesting to see if and how these new mechanics might pop up in other games following Pokémon Legends Arceus’ release on January 28, 2022.
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