Game Freak have been showing off the two locations we could explore with the Sword and Shield Expansion Passes since they were first announced. Once the Isle of Armor brought its island of fun, giving a story that was short and felt rushed but with a location that felt like an expansion of the Wild Area, it was time for The Crown Tundra to give its take on an open area with exploration under a free camera.
Aside from the fact it feels odd that this expansion reveals snowy climate is a feature of Galar both at the north and south, this is a much greater expansion that I expected. For one, there’s verticality that feels natural rather than straight and constant slopes. There’s a cave system that feels like a cave from the older generations brought to the modern world, with multiple secrets and routes leading to those secrets while still having one main path. It’s easy to get lost within it if you’re unprepared, and several smaller ones – while not to the same scale – also manage to feel the same.
The map overall feels good. Better yet, we have a town designed to fit free camera exploration. Okay, admittedly said town is just four buildings and a farm, but that’s what you’d expect for a small outpost town. Again, there’s a naturalness to it, but to the same standard of the main game. Unlike those of the main game, however, it’s designed specifically with the idea it fits within this world where the camera is free.
I’ve already talked before about how excited I was for the expansion pass. New areas to explore, building off what the Wild Area gave us, with new story chapters that bring some lore to those locations, and new features we had yet to see when it was first announced. I wanted this to further the idea of exploring concepts to bring the world of Pokémon into the modern age.
There’s success with that in some areas, I feel, but in other areas I’m not exactly impressed. Later trailers would show off a few new things, but would mostly show things we’d seen before. It was a telling sign that – at least for story content – things wouldn’t be as great as was first hoped.
I think many were led to believe there would be a true representation of level scaling on offer, with many sites reporting on such from a source that seemed to know what they were talking about. As such, I brought my team of mid-twenty Umbreon and Espeon to the island, and scraped through the first fight only because my opponent was a Psychic type trainer.
Back during my Omega Ruby days, I enjoyed training up Eevee. I’d have a team of them, with all six staying as Eevee for as long as I trained them. From that point on, I would always try to get an Eevee within the first run, even if I didn’t use it within my team. Done with the main adventure of Ultra Sun, I again turned to training a team of Eevee. But this time, I put a few rules on it, to make it feel like a second adventure.
I would train them all to level fifty, starting from Route 1 and Lv:1 with set level markers of when it was time to move to the next island. Alola being designed as it is, I was pretty loose with those markers, and didn’t want to restrict myself too much in moving around. I wandered around Alola looking for tough wild Pokémon fights, confident in the Eevee I had beside me.
With Shield’s release, I completed the main game, and spent time wandering the Wild Area with Lv:100 Umbreon and Espeon beside me. But the Wild Area’s a bit small to really feel like I’m on an adventure. So what else was I to do but start another Run to Fifty, as I call it. The last run was a bit easy, though. While it is an adventure, a bit of challenge provides just a bit more fun and a bit of consequence for actions taken.
The Galar region showed a lot of promise when it was first unveiled, taking a lot of elements from the UK and mixing them into what is the most diverse region we have seen in a main game.
It did deliver on that, but it also felt incredibly linear and unconnected, with certain sections of the map being cut off from access except by train. It made the whole region feel smaller than it should have been, not really helped by the Wild Area restricting design for half of the map.
So what would be the best way to set about making the Galar region a better place to be? Well, top priority is getting a better way to connect everything together, and that’s where the Wild Area comes in with its new name of Route 1.
The Pokémon Direct has finished and given us the news. Home was barely featured within it, with the meat of the presentation diving into the Sword and Shield Expansion Pass.
Just at the beginning, though, we got news that the original Pokémon Mystery Dungeon is being remade for the Switch as Rescue Team DX – and there’s a demo already available to try it out.
The first Mystery Dungeon game was one I played a lot when it first came out, with it offering a blend of turn-based battling and a full range of movement that couldn’t be found anywhere else at the time in the series.
Yesterday a Pokémon Direct was announced, and tomorrow at 14:30 GMT is when it will air. The obvious choice for such an announcement is about Home and what things that will give us (aside from storage capacity and the importing of ‘mon from previous generations, of course). However, stating the obvious is no fun. It’s time for some wild predictions.
The main series goes open world, but not in the way you think. Diamond and Pearl are announced as the remakes to come this year, with a trailer showing off the beautiful work done in recreating the world in a fully 3D environment.
Since E3, there’s been quite a few new announcements about these games, including a few new features and Pokémon. While the reveals have been showing off new things, however, they haven’t been showing everything.
We know of a few regional variants, a few of the new ‘mons (but not entire evolution chains), and just a few of those trainers we’ll be facing in the quest of the Galar League.
New previews that have been doing the rounds say there’s a lot of variety when it comes to what players will encounter on the opening hours of the game – including new ‘mon yet to be announced.
And those previews have also reinforced my thoughts on this new generation. It does feel like a push – those first steps – to craft the series into something much different. If it can finally shake the binding shackles of the 90s.
The Pokémon Direct has recently finished, giving a fresh look at the Galar region – including a Wild Area that is a vast, open land filled with lakes, trees, ruins… and Pokémon visible on the overworld.
The main series is including overworld appearances – even if just in this one area, and this is also looking to be a push to that thing many people have wanted – a true open-world online Pokémon experience.
Away from the Wild Area, we got to see some more new creatures of Galar, as well as a few of the people. Wooloo looks like a real cute sheep, while Corviknight is a very fine-looking raven. Drednaw looks like a turtle, while Gossifleur is another flower-based ‘mon – which got an evolution shown in the form of Eldegoss.
The legendaries of the region were also revealed. Zacian and Zamazenta representing the sword and shield respectively.
Today has been Pokémon Day. And today has been the day we finally got our look at the start of Generation 8 thanks to the Pokémon Direct.
For this Pokémon Day, I’ve mostly just been listening to music from the series, but I had been playing XD: Gale of Darkness on the Gamecube for some time before the Direct, and I just love talking about how I wished the mainline games could be as good as both Colosseum and Gale of Darkness.
After Generation 6 moved the series to the 3DS, it was a first effort in making a 3D game. It looked good, but there were plenty of things it could have done better.
Technical limitations probably prevented several of them, but throughout these last five/six years, there has been progress in that 3D design. With the eighth generation of games moving to a console, it should have been a leap forward. Again, in ways it is.
Despite being third on my core franchise list, Pokémon has been with me since the beginning. Across six generations of games, the main series has grown ever stronger. Each generation also gave us a variety of spin-offs, some of which continue to this day.
The TV series also grew stronger as the years progressed, and while a soft reboot did occur at the start of Black and White (thus getting a lot of criticism from long-time fans), the series did well to pick itself back up during the XY series.
The movies are less fortunate, seemingly being stuck between mediocre and alright. In some cases it can feel the plots drag on a bit too much, and in other cases the balance is just right [I feel Genesect and the Legend Awakened is one with the right balance].