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After sticking to a set style since 1996, Pokémon Legends: Arceus marks a big change from most Pokémon games. Becoming the Pokémon Champion has been the goal for recent games. But Arceus takes it back to the game’s roots, sporting an open-world style, wild Pokémon that can knock you out and a resurgent focus on catching all the Pokémon. And that’s only the beginning of its differences from main series games like Sword and Shield or Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl.

Gotta catch ’em all

When Pokémon started back in 1996, there were two goals for the people playing Red and Blue. The first was to beat all the Gym Leaders, go to the Pokémon League and become Champion. But, at the same time, collecting every Pokémon in Kanto and completing the Pokédex was another goal. As the games progressed, the technology advanced and, not only did new regions come into fruition, but a lot more Pokémon were introduced.

Each new region brought at least 72 new Pokémon, with many of the older ones returning to future generations. Alas, the sheer amount of catchable Pokémon per game made catching ’em all harder. So, beating your rival as well as the bad guys became the main focus, as opposed to collecting and completing the Pokédex. The main series continued to grow more popular, focusing on changes to environments and new Pokémon, as opposed to the gameplay. That is, until Pokémon Legends: Arceus came by.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus brings new life

When fans found out that The Pokémon Company was releasing two games only months apart, it sparked a lot of interest. Then, the first trailer for Arceus was released, showing off the Hisui region. This region is Sinnoh, from the fourth generation, but set a long time before any Pokémon game so far. An open environment and a new catching system were shown off, which was something brand new for the franchise.

Instead of the classic turn-based RPG style of the original Pokémon games, the game takes inspiration from the likes of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The Pokémon roam freely, alone or in packs, and some passively watch you while others attack. This adds to the faux-realism, giving Pokémon a more lively world — much like the open areas in Sword and Shield.

A bold change for Pokémon

The game’s goal is to help create the region’s first Pokédex, so to speak, catching the Pokémon around Hisui. While still carrying a story, the motto of “gotta catch ’em all” is back as the main goal. It doesn’t make sense for the Gyms and Pokémon League to be around when the first Pokédex isn’t.

Now, these changes won’t fit everyone’s liking. There is a reason why Pokémon is the best-selling video game franchise. If you prefer the classic RPG style of Pokémon, you have the recently released remake of Diamond and Pearl at your disposal. But, if you want to see what the future of Pokémon could look like, Pokémon Legends: Arceus is a change in both style and substance.