It’s a pity you can’t fight your friends in Pokemon Legends: Arceus, but the changes are worth it

Pokemon Legend: Arceus is brave. After years of relative stagnation and careful iteration, It represents a huge step forward for the Pokemon franchise. Sure, Game Freak and The Pokemon Company made these changes in a game whose naming is clearly directed at a spin-off, but Legends Arceus is also different from other Pokemon side stories, are generally made cheaper and derived from other genres. This is a spin-off with all the ambition and budget of a main game.

That’s for Pokemon what the Nintendo DS does for the Game Boy – a “third pillar”, Nintendo argues, with a new Game Boy coming soon – until the huge success means, no, the real DS the successor, and perhaps all, but for some light betting hedging. Maybe that will happen here.

There are omissions from Pokemon Legends: Arceus, which seem to be largely done to streamline things and tighten up the scope of things. For example, Pokemon that can hold items are no longer available, a change that introduces other systems such as battle strategies and evolution methods. One of the biggest changes is the removal of Pokemon’s passive abilities, which sadly removes a thought-provoking complication when assembling a battle team.

These changes are less impactful in large part because Legends: Arceus also removes a key feature: the ability to battle other Pokemon trainers, either online or over a local connection. While there are online features in the form of satchels (a sort of sanitized version of the Soul bloodstain, which shows you where several other players have died so you can return their lost gear for rewards) and Pokemon trading, which is ultimately a single-player game. The only performances you will have are against the AI.

I don’t know what Nintendo and the Pokemon Company have in store for the future of this franchise, and a big question mark in the competitive community will be what happens next with the missing features; if the next game is more traditional, if things like item retention and innate abilities return. But I do know one thing: I definitely want some extras from this game still.

Now, admittedly I’m not a pro Pokemon. I have attended several competitive events and followed the experts. I tiptoed to them, tears in my eyes at the scale of the meta in a game that was ultimately meant for kids. So maybe I’m not necessarily the best person to decide this – but I do, shut up, deal with it.

The main new addition to battles in Legends: Arceus is the ability to perform moves in three distinct styles. The normal style is Pokemon Moves as you used to know, but then the ‘Agility’ moves hit faster, but deal less damage, and the ‘Strong’ moves deliver a punch but slow the person use. This means that the Pokemon’s turn-based order, which was previously invulnerable, can be shuffled. You can do Agility moves to line up for a turn, where you can get multiple attacks from behind, or go all out with a Strong attack, hopefully then you won’t. Give your opponent a chance to attack twice.

Piplup sitting in the snow at camp in Pokemon Legends: Arceus

I like this for a few reasons. First, it’s a bit confusing about the combat of more advanced turn-based RPG systems. For me, when I think of turn-based order management, I think of Final Fantasy X – not the first, but one of the most memorable for me. But it also reminds me of something else: pretty much every game I’ve seen with a system like this has been a single-player effort, versus AI. So I can’t wait to see how a system like this performs in a competitive environment and how it can shake up the Pokemon meta.

So, there. Too bad you can’t fight your friends in Pokemon Legends Arceus. It’s a pity that the options to play and interact with friends are very limited. But it fits this game well – and it sets the board for exciting changes in the next Pokemon adopting competitive gameplay. I can hardly wait. It’s a pity you can’t fight your friends in Pokemon Legends: Arceus, but the changes are worth it

Fry Electronics Team

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