In early 2021, Game Freak surprised us with the reveal of Pokémon Legends: Arceus. This upcoming Nintendo Switch exclusive is an all-new type of Pokémon game that changes up the tried and true formula in many ways. So what can we expect from this upcoming “Action RPG Adventure” in the Pokémon world? We’ve got everything you need to know right here in one place, including details on the story, Pokédex, and release window! Keep scrolling to dig in, starting with the reveal trailer.
The information in this article is was last updated on March 24.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus reveal trailer
Journey to Sinnoh’s past
Pokémon Legends: Arceus is set in the Sinnoh region, just like Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. However, it’s set “a long, long time ago, when the Sinnoh Region was still only a vast wilderness.” There is no Pokémon League, and Pokémon Trainer is not an established profession. The landscapes and environments may also be harsher than you remember from Diamond and Pearl.
The familiar cities of the Sinnoh region don’t exist yet, but there is a village that will serve as your base. This village, which hasn’t yet been given a name, was founded by people who journeyed to Sinnoh from other lands. It’s described as a prosperous village, and its inhabitants seek to learn more about the land. Additionally, the reveal trailer shows off some ruins, indicating that there may be even more ancient secrets in Sinnoh’s past.
Gameplay: catch and battle in an open world
After experimenting with the Wild Area in Pokémon Sword and Shield, Game Freak is finally going fully open-world this time. You’ll have the freedom to explore a vast, natural landscape with full control over the camera. The usual cultivated routes are gone, although a long dirt path is visible in the trailer.
As with past games in the series, the gameplay is focused on catching Pokémon in the wild, training them up, and battling. Pokémon roam freely on the overworld, and players can aim and throw Pokéballs at them in real-time! An empty Pokéball will trigger a catch attempt if it lands near a wild Pokémon.
If you throw a Pokéball containing one of the Pokémon you’ve already caught, it will pop out and trigger a battle. The brief battle footage we’ve seen so far looks very similar to past games, but with a smoother transition and a more active camera. It’s unclear if you’ll be battling any other humans, but we see a full arsenal of six Pokémon in the player’s party during the trailer.
Stealth mechanics will also play a big role in Pokémon Legends: Arceus. Players can crouch to sneak up on wild Pokémon and even hide in tall grass. There’s also a new dive and roll ability, perhaps for ducking out of sight quickly.
The story: creating the Pokédex
Set in the past, Pokémon Legends: Arceus features more primitive technology, like gas lamps and wooden, steam-powered Pokéballs. On your adventure, you’ll be tasked with creating the Sinnoh region’s first-ever Pokédex. It seems that a traveling professor will give you this task, but little else is known about the plot. Your quest should take you all over the wilds of Sinnoh, but what you’ll find there is a mystery.
Along with Dialga and Palkia, Arceus is seen as a creator deity in the mythology of the Sinnoh region. Despite this important status, little is actually known about “The Alpha Pokémon.” So what role does it have to play in your Pokédex-crafting adventure? Game Freak is keeping those details secret for now.
Pokémon revealed so far
In addition to Arceus itself, this game will star Cyndaquil, Oshawott, and Rowlet as your three choices for a starter Pokémon. This is an interesting twist, as none of these three are native to the Sinnoh Region. Instead, they were brought here by a professor who encountered them while traveling the world.
Beyond that, the reveal trailer and early gameplay footage show numerous Sinnoh Pokémon in their natural habitats. We also get a glimpse at a few other Pokémon in the drawings showcased in the trailer. This is the full Pokédex list so far, with evolutions that are expected to appear in parentheses:
- Bidoof (Bibarel)
- Bronzor (Bronzong)
- Budew (Roselia and Roserade)
- Chimchar (Monferno and Infernape)
- Chingling (Chimecho)
- Cyndaquil (Quilava and Typholosion)
- Gallade (Ralts, Kirlia, and Gardevoir)
- Garchomp (Gible and Gabite)
- Lucario (Riolu)
- Oshawott (Dewott and Samurott)
- Pikachu (Pichu and Raichu)
- Piplup (Prinplup and Empoleon)
- Rhyhorn (Rhydon and Rhyperior)
- Rowlet (Dartrix and Decidueye)
- Shinx (Luxray and Luxio)
- Starly and Staraptor (Staravia)
- Spheal and Sealeo
- Turtwig (Grotle and Torterra)
Pokémon Legends: Arceus release date
Game Freak has not yet given us a final release date for Pokémon Legends: Arceus, but we do have a window. According to the official website, they currently plan to release it in “Early 2022.” Nintendo closes the books on its fiscal year on March 31, so it would make sense for the game to release before then to finish the year out strong. That said, it’s pretty common for open-world games to be delayed for further polish.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus is clearly being treated as a huge priority. Typically, Game freak handles “main series” entires and turns over spin-offs to other developers. But this time around, that’s changed. The Switch remakes of Diamond and Pearl have been handed to ILCA, a team that previously worked on Pokémon Home. This frees up the core development team to focus on Pokémon Legends: Arceus.