Pokémon Sword and Shield have been out for a while, and even though there are plenty of things you can still do in the games, admittedly they’ve gotten a bit stale. There wasn’t a ton of postgame content like in other titles, so the promise of DLC posed a very tall order. How do you make paid content that players might have expected to be in the game, and how do you justify the cost? The Isle of Armor is the first half of the paid postgame Pokémon Sword and Shield Expansion Pass, and it’s mostly worth it.
What’s new in The Isle of Armor
About 100 monsters make their return in The Isle of Armor, with a Pokédex unique to the island. This isn’t the full National Dex that hardcore fans have been clamoring for, but hopefully it’s a sign that by the end of this year, players will be able to import all of their old favorites.
There’s a story mode that focuses on the dojo where Leon trained. This will take about five hours of dedicated gameplay. Depending on where you are in the main game’s storyline, you’ll only be able to get so far, but I imagine most players will have completed the original game long before embarking for the Isle of Armor.
An expansive overworld about the size of the entire Wild Area on Galar’s mainland is also on display. There are lots of different ecosystems to explore and new monsters to find, in addition to minigames and quests. You can find 150 Diglett for rewards. Also, give up all your watts to go on a date!
Finally, The Isle of Armor offers two new Pokémon and a handful of new Gigantamax forms for your starters. And Galarian Slowbro.
The Good, the bad, and the Urshifu
The Isle of Armor has a cute postgame story that you can start before finishing the main game in Sword and Shield. This brings up some weird quirks in the script, as no one seems to know that your character is the Champion, the most famous person in all of Galar. It is addressed late in the scenario via a throwaway line from an NPC who’s easily missed, so it’s fine.
The main characters of note are Master Mustard and the new rival. Mustard is genuinely funny and brings a ton of personality to the game. I enjoyed literally every encounter with the dude. Sword players meet Klara, a poison-type gym leader hopeful, while Shield players deal with Avery, who uses psychic types. I have Sword, so I can only speak for Klara, who is the absolute worst. She tries to get you to leave the island without joining the dojo, threatens to murder you on multiple occasions, and cheats when it comes time to battle her. It was surprisingly dark for Sword and Shield, and I enjoyed every moment of it.
The other main premise of the DLC is training new Pokémon Kubfu to reach its full potential. Mustard tasks the player with befriending the Wushu Pokémon, showing it around the Isle of Armor, and raising its confidence so that it can evolve. This culminates in a Game of Death-style pagoda battle against increasingly difficult NPCs and a final battle that was incredibly challenging and satisfying. The final battle is repeatable too.
However, I do have some issues with The Isle of Armor. For starters, it’s short, even by Pokémon standards. Some players will find that $15 isn’t a worthwhile price for five hours of story content. For many fans who were disappointed with Pokémon Sword and Shield, this DLC definitely doesn’t do enough to address their complaints. A hundred returning Pokémon is nice but maybe not a satisfactory concession. Also, the Wild Area-like open-world nature of the island was cool, but I often found myself getting lost in some areas that lacked distinctive landmarks. And lastly, some of the sidequests are tedious, like watt collecting and the Diglett scavenger hunt; as much as I’ve enjoyed the latter, I can see other players getting frustrated with it.
Overall, if you’re a fan of Pokémon Sword and Shield, you’ll probably enjoy The Isle of Armor. It’s not perfect and it feels a little skimpy, but the decent amount of postgame content that is there contributes quite well to the main title. It truly feels like an expansion rather than something excised from the main game, which is the best you can hope for when it comes to DLC.
I enjoyed it greatly, so I’d say it’s worth it, with the caveat that we don’t know much about the second half of the Expansion Pass yet. Just make sure to get the right version.