I’ve been steadily working my way through Pokémon Legends: Arceus. Perhaps a bit slowly, given that I’m trying to avoid spend all of my free time doing just this one thing, but I can feel myself slowly making my way forward. At about a week in (I missed most of the first weekend thanks to being sick and wrote this a week ahead of it posting), I’ve got 8 stars, a fourth area unlocked, three fully complete Pokédex entries, and 95% seen-to-“complete” Pokédex ratio, and a party of level 60 Pokémon. I still have a great deal of content left to work through, between the plot and the Pokédex entries since there are a large number of rare Pokémon I’ve only gotten to Research level 10 because I’ve gotten a wide array of the easy-to-get research tasks. This isn’t a problem, though, because I’m still having fun, which is all that really matters.
Pokémon battles might be more of a drag than I was expecting, given how readily certain types of Pokémon will just thrown down the instant they see you, but battles against Alpha Pokémon are still exciting. I’ve finally reached the point where I can run into Alpha Pokémon in a new area and be reasonably confident I have the tools to sneakily capture them or at least defeat them in battle so I’m not always being chased down by the Alpha Blissey hidden in an area I think I wasn’t supposed to be able to get to yet. I was able to get there with my team at level 25, so I don’t know why they’d put a pile of wandering, normal Pokémon at level 40 and then an alpha at level 61 in the area. It just sort of seems kinda hostile, you know?
The most frustrating part of the game, so far, is how many Pokémon I have to capture for the Pokédex, how difficult it can be to keep myself properly armed with the various Poké Balls, and how annoying it is to sort through all those now hundreds of Pokémon so I can figure out which ones should be released and which ones should be kept for use in completing Pokédex entries. The only way to stay properly geared up is by hitting every single resource node you pass, which isn’t terribly hard since you can just throw one of your Pokémon at it to collect it while you keep moving along, but it also makes inventory management a nightmare. Everything goes into the same pocket in your bag, so you need to have space not just for the various plants required to make a potion, but a space for the potions themselves. Plus a space for the upgraded potions, the item needed to upgrade the potions, and then whatever tier of potion you’re upgrading from. Sure, you can put all the materials into storage and craft out of your storage chest at most camps, but you still need to fill your pockets with random crap in order to eventually fill your storage chest.
I wouldn’t complain about it if it didn’t cost an ever-growing amount of money to make more space in your bag. It isn’t that much money, initially, but the price starts going up pretty quickly and fully upgrading your bag costs more than I’ve ever collected in any Pokémon game. Sure, there isn’t a whole lot to spend money on except, you know, fashionable outfits, crafting recipes, the supplies themselves, special deals to bulk-purchase supplies, rare crafting ingredients, basic crafting ingredients, all the moves your Pokémon don’t naturally learn, and protective items to help keep you alive in the wilds of the Hisui region. All inconsequential and unimportant items. I absolutely haven’t spent tens of thousands of Poké Dollars on basic crafting items because a certain area didn’t have enough of the necessary resource nodes for me to keep up with my expenses, so I have zero gripes about the terrible economy of this game’s world.
To be honest, that’s also my only frustration. Other than inventory management and how difficult it can be to keep up with the resource expenditure the game seems to expect from me, I have no complaints. Sure, the grass sometimes lurches around wildly and there’s an annoying light-change blink when you’re running through a shadowed forest, but I expect some of those issues will be fixed with stability updates to the game. They’ll turn into complaints if they don’t get fixed, of course, but right now they’re minor annoyances that I forget about most of the time.
While a lot of the gameplay has shifted from new and interesting into the rather formulaic play of a Pokémon game (a slightly different formula most of the time, sure), I still enjoy the way the maps change and evolve as you gain new options for traversal. While unlocking the ability to use specific moves outside of battle (Cut, Fly, Surf, etc) has long been a feature of the games, most of the time you don’t need to go back to old areas. There will sometimes be places you can finally access after unlocking one of the traversal moves, but most of the time it’s a hidden item or a crossroads rather than a new section of an old area. For instance, when I finally got the Pokémon that lets you surf in Pokémon Legends: Arceus, I was not only able to get around more easily in older maps, but there were whole sections I could finally access, new routes to take, new ways to navigate a familiar area, and a whole new way of playing (the time slow-down thing from jumping while on Basculegion is neat, but my accuracy goes WAY down). It’s a great expansion on the ways using these moves has changed from the first few games to the more recent ones.
I’ve still got plenty of game to go, so I’ll update again once I’ve made it deeper into the game, but I’m still enjoying myself. It definitely helps that I’m listening to podcasts while playing, but I still routinely have enough fun that I stop paying attention to my podcast and have to rewind until it starts sounding familiar again.