What some would call the most highly anticipated Pokémon game ever, Pokémon Legends: Arceus was released on the Nintendo Switch on January 28, 2022. In less than a week, over 6.5 million people had purchased a copy of the game.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus breaks many of the norms that fans have come to know in other Pokémon games over the last twenty-five years. This change-up was the driving force behind what made the game anticipated, but the story also throws fans a curveball. On the Pokémon timeline, this game is actually the first game, taking place three hundred years before any other main series Pokémon. It takes place in the Hisui region, the primitive land of what becomes the Sinnoh region in the main series games, Pokémon Diamond and Pearl.

Unlike every other Pokémon game, humans and Pokémon do not live in harmony; Pokémon are seen as unpredictable and dangerous creatures. Only a select few people have Pokémon at their side and a lot of the storyline has to do with researching what Pokémon are and how they behave. While going through this process of discovery, the player is led through five different regions of Hisui and encounters the guardian Pokémon of each region, who have been disturbed by a powerful, unknown source. The goal of the game is to find out what is causing these disturbances within Pokémon on Hisui and stop it. However, getting there is tough as Pokémon Legends: Arceus is claimed to be the hardest and longest Pokémon game ever released.

The gameplay is where the most differences come in the most. The first major difference is that the instanced Pokémon encounters are not there like in other main series Pokémon games. This allows for a couple of different mechanics that new to Pokémon. 1) Players do not have to encounter a Pokémon to catch it. Because all of the Pokémon are in the same instance, players can effectively sneak up on Pokémon and catch them by aiming and throwing a Poke ball at it. Players get a boosted catch rate if throw a ball and hit the back of the Pokémon, another new minor mechanic unique to this game. 2) If a player does decide to battle a Pokémon, other Pokémon from the surrounding area can join. This adds a strategic element to the game where players must choose where they should battle Pokémon.

Similar to the popular Switch game The Legends of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Pokémon Legends: Arceus is a sandbox game where a player must gather materials and craft supplies to potions, poke balls, and items used to distract or repel Pokémon. These items are used to be able to survive against the Pokémon who can and do attack the player if they do not send it a Pokémon to defend themselves. Pokémon Legends: Arceus is the first Pokémon game to introduce what is essentially a player death. Upon being hit by too many abilities by aggressive Pokémon, players can blackout and lose the items they have gathered or earned through quests.

Finally, along with Pokémon Legends: Arceus has dozens of side quests and hidden objectives along with the main questline, providing for potential dozens of hours of gameplay. There is no firm evidence yet, but there is also rumored to be a DLC coming out for Pokémon Legends: Arceus in April or May 2022. Overall, this game is great in my opinion. It is much more interactive than traditional Pokémon games and it adds a level of difficulty that could not be found in other Pokémon games. The first few hours of the game are slow but once players begin to unlock more regions within Hisui, the game opens up a lot, and there become plenty of different things to do.