Is Game Freak Listening to Fans with Pokémon Legends: Arceus?


Introduction

The same day Nintendo announced Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl (you can read my thoughts about it here), it also revealed another upcoming Pokémon game titled Pokémon Legends: Arceus.

While ICLA, Inc. is developing the Gen 4 remakes, Game Freak surprisingly dives into uncharted territory, mainline Pokémon series-wise. I did not hold back on my cynicism of Game Freak when I expressed my fears about how the Gen 4 remakes would turn out. To see Game Freak appearing to attempt a Breath of the Wild-esque Pokémon game is a... breath of fresh air. Is it possible that the studio has listened to fan criticism on how they handled Sword and Shield?

My Thoughts on the Trailer

The first thing that popped into my mind was how different the art direction is in Legends compared to Sword and Shield. It adopts the cel shading aesthetic that Breath of the Wild utilized. And I think the direction will work in the game's favor. When you compare daytime to sunset shots, especially, the colors pop and look very vibrant.


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Another positive was the openness of the old Sinnoh world. The mainline games tend to be generally linear with some maps containing branching paths and secret locations. Ever since Gen 6, however, the games became even more linear and corridor-esque. The open world approach of Legends is quite a departure from the usual formula. I just hope Game Freak prioritizes density more than world size.


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The little bit of gameplay Game Freak revealed intrigued me though it left me with more questions. Firstly, the player can dodge roll, hide in grass, and aim the Poké ball at the intended Pokémon. I wonder if the dodge roll mechanic will have some utility or whether it'll merely be salad dressing. For instance, can a hostile Pokémon attack the player and he/she needs to dodge roll to avoid damage, assuming the player has HP? Will there be additional stealth mechanics like tossing rocks and bait as a diversion? Is there a crafting system where you can make different Poké balls à la the apricorns from Johto?

I assume Game Freak has kept the more minute details and features under wraps. Fingers crossed that the studio will implement meaningful systems.


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Battles appear to have improved significantly from previous games, too. Pokémon actually run up to another Pokémon to attack! Legends still retains the turn-based style, but that does not bother me one bit. My main concern are the animations and they look fine albeit a little janky. As long as Game Freak does not do the "rotate idle model side to side" style of animation and make the battles feel impactful, Pokémon battles will be more dynamic.


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The one big negative I had with the trailer was the low framerate. It probably explains why the battle animations looked janky. The framerate looked quite bad at 1:05 where Chingling looked like it was in a slideshow.

Of course, this is alpha footage and the game is targeting an early 2022 release. I also don't mind if Game Freak downgrades the graphics in favor for a more stable framerate. There is no shame in that. The selling point of the series was never the graphics, but the team building and battling. Content, gameplay, and replayability always trump graphics, in my opinion.

Conclusions

To answer the question posed in the title, I believe that Game Freak is listening to the fans and perhaps I treated them too harshly. While the graphics aren't the greatest, the Breath of the Wild cel shading style looks good. The world appears to allow for far more exploration than the linear corridors of Sword and Shield. Pokémon battles look more dynamic rather than cookie cutter.

That being said, we still have about a year to go. There is still a lot of details that we don't know about Legends and hopefully, whatever features Game Freak implements add to the experience instead of serving as mere decorations.

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LateToTheParty
LateToTheParty

Agnostic classical liberal & fiscal conservative who likes anime, JRPGs, and Linux. You can also follow me on Read.cash/@LateToTheParty, Odysee.com/@LTTP, Steemit.com/@latetotheparty, and Twitter.com/latepartyguy.


Late to the Show and Games
Late to the Show and Games

My commentary on things like video games, anime, manga, and other media.

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