To kick off the new year, we’re shining a spotlight on some of the biggest and most anticipated games of 2022 across all platforms and genres, today looking at Pokémon Legends: Arceus. We’ll be looking at everything you need to know about Pokémon Legends: Arceus, including its many new gameplay mechanics, whether or not it actually has an open world, and its release date.
Nintendo and The Pokémon Company are starting this year off with a bang, with the release of Pokémon Legends: Arceus on January 28, 2022 exclusively on Nintendo Switch. Fresh off the heels of last fall’s Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, Arceus looks to be the biggest departure for a mainline entry in the series in quite some time, including the incorporation of many elements that feel similar to those of Capcom’s Monster Hunter franchise.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus was revealed during a Pokémon 25th anniversary presentation on February 26, 2021 alongside the aforementioned Diamond and Pearl remakes, as well as last year’s excellent New Pokémon Snap. Developed by Game Freak, the trailer showed off a version of the Sinnoh region first seen in the 4th generation of games. However, this game is set much further in the past when Sinnoh was known as the Hisui region, with the game taking inspirations from 19th century Feudal Japan. The Pokémon Company is referring to this game as a “pre-make.”
Flash forward to August 2021, and we got another gameplay trailer for Arceus, this time highlighting battles that take place in the overworld, the ability for the trainers themselves to dodge incoming attacks, stealth mechanics that can be used to sneak up on and catch unsuspecting Pokémon, and a crafting system. This trailer also confirmed the game’s release date of January 28, 2022.
A month later, a new trailer revealed more gameplay details. This included Alpha Pokemon, which are strong and aggressive wild Pokémon that can be distinguished by their glowing red eyes. These creatures are tough to defeat but become powerful allies if you manage to catch them. We also saw Noble Pokémon, which seem to be this game’s version of bosses. The player must throw a series of balms at these Pokémon while dodging their attacks. Once they’ve calmed down enough, you’re able to battle them.
As is tradition, when you begin the game, you’ll have your choice of three starter Pokémon options – Rowlet from Sun / Moon, Cyndaquil from Gold / Silver, and Oshawott from Black / White. This will be the first mainline Pokémon game to contain starters from three separate generations. The game also features a slew of familiar Pokémon, as well as new evolutions, Hisuian variants, and mythical creatures.
In October 2021, The Pokémon Company detailed Arceus’ gameplay flow, confirming that it’s not an open-world game in the traditional sense, but rather a series of large areas that you’ll explore while always keeping Jubilife Village as a hub that you return to between missions. This village is the center for the Galaxy Expedition Team, which you are a rookie member of. In this hub, you’ll be able to take on missions and sidequests, visit clothiers and hairdressers to change your character’s appearance, and craft new equipment like healing items, lures, smoke bombs, and proto-Poké Balls using various resources you find out in the field. This is where the heavy Monster Hunter vibes came in. As of yet, we haven’t seen any sort of proper multiplayer in the game, but there is a Trading Post in town that lets you swap Pokémon with pals.
On January 13, 2022, The Pokémon Company released a 13-minute gameplay preview video that showed off a lot more details. As the game takes place far in the past, during an age where it was rare for Pokémon and people to exist in harmony, you’ll be tasked with not just filling out your Pokédex, but straight-up creating it. Catching a Pokémon once will give you a bit of info on it, and you’ll then have to complete a series of Research Tasks similar to in Pokémon GO in order to fully flesh out its entry.
The video also showcased different biomes and ecosystems, including the rolling green hills of the Obsidian Fieldlands, snowy mountains, and rocky beaches. Different Pokémon appear depending on the time of day and the weather. They’ll also have different reactions upon seeing you – a Bidoof might not pay any attention to you, while a Shinx will immediately become aggressive and attack.
There are furthermore rideable Pokémon throughout the game that can help you traverse the world. Wyrdeer can be used to quickly cross areas or make it up steep mountains, Hisuian Braviary lets you soar through the sky, and Basculegion is there to help you travel across rivers and oceans. In terms of battles themselves, they’re a mix of familiar and new. You aren’t transported to a separate battle screen, instead having the fights play out right in the overworld. Battles are still turn-based, but now you can choose to have your Pokémon attack in either Strong or Agile Style – the former is slower but packs a bigger punch, while the latter is quicker and might grant you an extra attack at the cost of lower power.
Whether all of these gameplay and design changes add up to the evolution that folks have wanted from the series for a while now remains to be seen, but we won’t have to wait long to find out, as Pokémon Legends: Arceus has that rapidly approaching release date of January 28, 2022.
That’s everything you need to know about Pokémon Legends: Arceus — check out the full list of our biggest, most anticipated games of 2022 (or beyond) for more insights: