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Will Pokémon Legends: Arceus break 25 years of gameplay repetition?

A reader is hopeful that the upcoming Pokémon Legends: Arceus will be the revolution the series needs and not another disappointment.

Since the release of Pokémon’s first games all the way back in 1996, the world has been blessed with regular instalments of new mainline games.

After 25 years and eight different generations of Pokémon, each bringing hundreds of new creatures and spanning six different consoles, the series has reached a slightly critical point amongst the player-base.

Now, let us not lie to ourselves: Pokémon have ostensibly been releasing the same game, with minor changes and a fresh coat of paint, since their debut. This is a tried and tested format that lends itself to Pokémon’s gameplay, but after almost three decades, Pokémon needs something to change; It needs revolution, not evolution.

The latest release, Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, was met with mixed reviews. On the one hand it’s a nostalgic trip for many fans who played the original games in 2006, seeing the pixel art graphics updated to shiny 3D models, and getting to play through a more streamlined experience than before. On the other hand, it’s visuals were widely panned, the game seems to have lost a lot of its original charm, and the experience has left some players feeling deflated, and dare I say bored.

Similar thoughts were echoed about the last mainline entry for the series, Pokémon Sword and Shield. Whilst it did attempt to push boundaries, some of its introduced mechanics felt uninteresting, poorly implemented, or even a step backwards from what other Pokémon titles had introduced. However, it did give us the first ever downloadable expansion for a Pokémon game, bringing the Isle Of Armor and Crown Tundra DLC to the mix. However, these also suffered from similar issues to the main game.

With a diminishing interest, and fewer boundaries being pushed, what can Pokémon do to reverse what seems to be a downward trend?

Enter, Pokémon Legends: Arceus.

On January 28th this year, we are being introduced to a fresh face for the franchise. Legends: Arceus seems to be what many have cried out for in terms of change.

Boasting an open world, overhauled mechanics, and new ways of interacting with pokémon in the wild, it seems like this new title features much of what the past games were lacking.

However, Game Freak has started to garner a reputation for dipping a toe into the pool of change rather than diving headfirst into it. This is shown in half-hearted features like the Wild Area from Sword and Shield, an attempt at creating an open world with free range Pokémon that didn’t quite deliver to what it should have been.

Whilst the upcoming release seems promising, past titles’ disappointments have left fans both excited and anxious about this new approach to the Pokémon world. Many have compared Arceus to Nintendo’s The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, a game that took a debilitating format and breathed entirely new life into it, garnering critical acclaim and changing the landscape for franchises that are in the winter of their life.

This is exactly the sort of revolution I referred to earlier, where rebuilding the game from the ground up, whilst retaining the core tenants of the original, could be what breathes new excitement into a franchise long bereft of engaging experiences.

This could very well be the start of a positive trend for Game Freak and their Pokémon games. I am hopeful, if anxious, but we can only wait and see if Pokémon Legends: Arceus is indeed the Breath Of The Wild success that it needs to be.

By reader Ed of GameHogGames (Twitter/YouTube/Twitch)

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