Pokémon is (finally) Moving into the Realm of Open-World RPGs

For years, fans have had a love/hate relationship with the Pokémon Company. Junichi Masuda seemed to always deliver just enough to spark the nostalgia of longtime fans and draw new fans into the fold but fall short of the game’s potential. Critics of the series have stated repeatedly in the last decade that fans should not be surprised. The Pokémon Company, after all, sees themselves primarily as a toy company, not a video game company. This has bred an interesting dynamic where every mainline game after Black and White has been fallen below the mark, and yet each new entry in the series continues to outperform expectations. In fact, Sword and Shield – a game many consider to be unforgivably below the standard for the jump to home console – is the best-selling Pokémon game since Gold and Silver.

The most recent Pokémon Presents revealed just how dedicated the Pokémon Company is to the classic formula with its decision to keep the Diamond and Pearl remakes incredibly true to the originals. But it also displayed the company’s desire to move the series into a new era where open-world RPGs are the standard.

In Pokémon Legends: Arceus you will be able to throw Poke balls from the overworld.

Two things are evident from the presentation. First, it appears that the Pokémon Company wants this new style of game to be separate from the main series games. Hence why it’s called Pokémon Legends: Arceus and not Pokémon Fire and Ice (or something of the sort). Does this mean that we will see more traditional Pokémon games in the future? My speculation right now is that yes, we will see the next mainline Pokémon game in late 2022 or early 2023 and that development will take place alongside Pokémon Legends: Arceus.

Second, the nature of the title implies the Pokémon Company doesn’t see this as just a single-entry in the Pokémon lexicon. Otherwise, why did they specify it as “Arceus” and not just Pokémon Legends. It seems that if Arceus is successful we will likely continue to see games in this genre from the Pokémon Company. Perhaps in the future we will be playing Pokémon Legends: Celebi or Pokémon Legends: Keldeo.

The battle system appears to still be in beta-testing.

There is still a lot of room for Game Freak to drop the ball on these new innovations, as they did in the Sword and Shield main game. It was clear that the gameplay from Arceus was an extremely raw, beta version of the game and it has a long way to go before it’s the Breath of the Wild of Pokémon games – as many have implied, given the similarities in graphics and presentation. The last thing we want is to have a repeat of Cyberpunk 2077 and get the open world with just cut and paste content. That said, I’m very hopeful for the future of the franchise.

What did you think of the Pokémon Legends: Arceus reveal? Are you optimistic or skeptical about the game we’ll be getting in 2022? What region and mythical Pokémon would you center the next Legends game around?

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