New Pokemon Legends: Arceus trailer serves up a gameplay deep dive

Pokemon Legends: Arceus is launching for Nintendo Switch in a couple of weeks, and it's safe to say that it's going to shake up the Pokemon formula in a fairly significant way. While the central premise will still revolve around encountering and catching Pokemon to fill out your Pokedex, the way you'll go about that in Pokemon Legends: Arceus is a lot different from previous games in the series. Today, Nintendo and Game Freak published a lengthy gameplay preview video for Pokemon Legends: Arceus that takes us through some of the core gameplay concepts.

When we say "lengthy," we mean it too. The entire video comes in at over 13 minutes long, and it covers a lot of ground in that time. In the end, we're left feeling like Pokemon Legends: Arceus takes a few pages out of Monster Hunter's book, which isn't necessarily a bad thing considering how much fun those games are.

Rather than traveling from town to town before eventually challenging the Pokemon League for a chance to become the Pokemon champion – the central gameplay loop of most mainline Pokemon games – Pokemon Legends: Arceus will task players with going out in the field and documenting the different species of Pokemon they find there.

As the gameplay preview shows us, players will interact with wild Pokemon and the environment around them directly. Players can collect resources to craft items, whether those are rudimentary Pokeballs or healing items for themselves and their Pokemon. Encounters with wild Pokemon don't necessarily end in Pokemon battles, either. For instance, players can catch a wild Pokemon by throwing a berry to distract it, then throwing a Pokeball and catching it through what's called a "back strike."

Of course, if the wild Pokemon isn't giving in, you can start a Pokemon battle to weaken it. However, you'll need to be careful as you engage wild Pokemon because they can directly damage players, and taking too much damage will send you back to the game's hub – Jubilife Village – while taking some of the items you found as a penalty.

The trailer also gets into how players will fill out the Pokedex and how they'll progress the game through requests and missions. The trailer explains that requests are small tasks that help the residents of Jubilife Village, while missions are larger quests that advance the story. That mission structure, along with the expedition-style gameplay and the fact that players set out from a hub town, are all reminiscent of the way Monster Hunter games play.

In the latter half of the gameplay trailer, we get to see how a basic request might play out. After that, we learn the specifics of Pokemon battling and even get a look at player customization. Finally, the trailer ends with a look at an encounter with a frenzied noble Pokemon, which involves trying to calm it by throwing balms at it while also dodging its attacks.

If there's one complaint Pokemon fans have about modern games, it's the formula has grown stagnant and boring, so it'll be interesting to see if Pokemon Legends: Arceus shakes things up in the right way for players who might be growing weary of the series. We'll find out soon enough, as Pokemon Legends: Arceus is slated to launch for the Nintendo Switch on January 28th, 2022.