In the first gameplay trailer for the next-generation Pokemon game Pokemon Legends Arceus, we saw the future. The promise of the Pokemon game we’ve been dreaming of for a decade. EDIT: The game we’ve been dreaming of since it was made clear that Pokemon GO couldn’t actually deliver a very similar dream until at least 5G was solidified across the planet.
Pokemon Legends Arceus is an open world game. It allows the user to run around and encounter Pokemon, battle Pokemon, and so forth. On the surface, it doesn’t seem all that different from games like Pokemon Sword and Shield. The key difference comes in how the user interacts with each individual Pokemon.
In a game like Pokemon Sword or Pokemon Shield, the player runs around the landscape and sees Pokemon and/or trainers. They run up to said Pokemon or trainers and they have an encounter. This is how Pokemon games have been run since the beginning.
When Pokemon GO was launched (as shown below), it seemed like we might have the opportunity to span the gap between a traditional Pokemon game and the Pokemon universe experience we’ve been shown in Pokemon TV shows, movies, and comic books. It looked like we’d be able to walk around and see Pokemon wherever they might pop up in our world, toss Pokeballs at them and battle them as soon as we got within range.
But that didn’t happen. The logistics behind making every single Pokemon in the Pokemon GO universe an individual, viewable by every player, and able to roam freely… that wasn’t possible. It might be possible in the future, but for now, it’s too much to process. Especially with the internet connectivity we’re still working with here in early 2021.
Now, with Pokemon Legends Arceus, we have another opportunity to enter the Pokemon universe experience with gameplay that’s closer-than-ever to what we see in the cartoon. The most important difference we can see – even here in a very early gameplay trailer for the game – is the open encounter.
Think of it as an experience closer to what you’d see in a Mario game, or Diablo. You see a Pokemon and you immediately have access to said Pokemon. The difference is that you’re not torn away to a completely separate screen to do battle or toss a Pokeball.
There’ll certainly be some cutting away to menues and such at some point. But the difference between the traditional encounter system and this far more freely-accessible Pokemon has the potential to be great.
I look forward to seeing how this new generation in Pokemon games plays out. Remember Pokemon GO’s original dream. Cross your fingers it, in some way, gives Niantic the spark they need to one day deliver the open world experience to which Pokemon GO always aspired.