When we first saw Pokémon Legends: Arceus we didn’t have much to go off of based on the gameplay, especially given we recently learned there was a lot that was going to be changed between then and the most recent reveal. Now that we’ve seen a large amount more, it’s easy to see just how much it’s not only changing the basic formula, but many core elements players have come to know from the mainline series. This is easily the most drastic change the series has ever seen and it’d be a nice way to see the franchise change things up with more single player experiences moving forward.
The main Pokémon series has a lot of elements that aren’t easy to change, with the first and foremost being the combat. The main reason for this is the competitive element, which has been a major part for many players since the very first entry. It’s one of the reasons many core combat changes haven’t been made or attempted, as they need to be easily available to put into competitive play. Pokémon at its core has always been simple, which translates well to players coming up with advanced strategies with the simplistic elements, which is why competitive play is fun to participate in or watch. Legends Arceus, however, has made it clear that combat against other players likely won’t be a thing and that’s for the best in this case, as it has allowed them to be more creative and branch out in order to try something entirely new for Pokémon.
The combat in Legends Arceus isn’t just a traditional back and fourth based on speed, and instead as a visible turn system that shows when Pokémon will move. This can be altered by the new styles known as strong and agile. These change the power and order of attacks used in tandem with wild Pokémon, which makes for much more creative thinking when approaching combat. This is something, however, that would be hard to successfully transfer into the mainline games against other trainers capable of the same feats which is a major reason combat against other players is unlikely to be in any part of Legends Arceus. This is also one of the largest changes to combat the series has ever seen, being a major component of battling instead of a stationary gimmick like Megas or Dynamaxing. For many years now Pokémon has been built around its need for playing with others be it in trading or battling, but Legends Arceus being a primarily single player focused adventure is the best direction it could have possibly taken things.
Right now based on what we’ve seen, combat against any other type of trainer don’t seem to be a mechanic and instead players take on challenging Pokémon out in the wilderness of Hisui. This is yet another drastic departure from the regular series, as trainer battles have been embedded into nearly everything. This makes much more sense given the story-driven single player focus of learning about Pokémon, and it’s likely that any sort of trainer battles would disrupt the overall tone of free exploration it seems to be offering. While this would likely deter many players if it became the new main style of Pokémon, it works well for this mainline spin-off and has a strong allure because of these unique elements that make it feel like the sort of Pokémon title people will be surprised by in the best of ways. While we have other titles like Let’s Go trying new things like removing wild battles in favor of catching, Legends Arceus has amped up the new elements in a way that ensures no one will go in truly knowing what to expect in the best kind of way.
It’s hard to know if we’ll see more titles like Legends Arceus in the future or if it will be a one-off. There’s plenty of other history and lore to pull from such as the past regarding Kyurem in Unova, or the great war in Kalos to name a few. Assuming Legends Arceus is as entertaining and exciting as it seems, it would be nice to see more purely single-player focused mainline titles like this in the future that examined brand new elements and shook things up like no other main Pokémon titles really do. While we’re still a good few months away, Legends Arceus has many players excited just due to how different and exciting it feels to be diving into something we’ve never seen Pokémon truly try before, and it will be interesting to see if anything becomes of it moving forward or if it’s just an enjoyable title to come back to time and time again.