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Just days before its release, Pokémon Legends: Arceus has received positive reviews across multiple outlets. GameSpot, Eurogamer and others praise Arceus for its unique setting and flexible approach to a formula that’s grown stale with previous Pokémon games.

Critics applaud Arceus and developer Game Freak for taking risks that fans have wanted for years. It’s a shakeup of the usual format and comes with a fair share of flaws; gyms are gone in favor of a greater focus on the Pokédex.

Inverse – 8/10

Tom Caswell, from Inverse, brought up the fact that Arceus’ environments look worse than Sword and Shield. But, the good outweighs the bad in his review. In general, fun gameplay makes up for the poor visuals.

“Is Pokémon Legends: Arceus the perfect package we’ve been dreaming of? No. But it comes much closer to it than I was expecting, and boldly declares that we might not be too far off from that 10/10 experience,” Caswell said.

GameSpot – 8/10

Steve Watts from GameSpot gave Arceus an 8/10. The positives include the flexible progression system, the unique setting and the interesting story. He also pointed out that the adventure has a slow, grind-filled start, but builds to something that shows the franchise is evolving.

“Once Pokemon Legends: Arceus finds its stride, though, it’s the most daring and inventive the series has been in years, breaking apart the staid core and creating something new and exciting from its pieces,” Watts said.

VGC – 5/5 stars

Chris Scullion from VGC gave Arceus 5/5 stars, pointing to how this game stays true to one of the earliest quotes of the franchise.

“Legends gives Pokémon their character back, and at the same time returns its focus to that classic ‘Gotta Catch ‘Em All’ mantra that made the series so endearing in the first place. Even more crucial than that, however, is that in the entire history of the Pokémon series, catching ‘em all has rarely been this fun,” Scullion said.

Washington Post – ‘doesn’t need to look beautiful to be a beautiful game’

Jhaan Ekler for Launcher, the game-focused section of the Washington Post, gave a positive review for Arceus. No rating system in this piece, but the article goes into detail for why the minor inconvenience of graphical issues is easy to overlook for what the game accomplishes.

“This gameplay loop taps into what makes Breath of the Wild so special: It satisfies the player’s urge to just explore and be excited with what they find. ‘Pokémon Legends: Arceus’ rewards exploration, and it actively encourages players to do so with rare Pokémon or unique experiences,” Ekler said.

Game Informer – 8.75/10

Brian Shea for Game Informer gave Arceus an 8.75/10. Much like other critics, the issues the game has don’t remove the fact that the game is good, according to Shea.

“Despite these shortcomings, Pokémon Legends: Arceus is a worthwhile spin-off adventure, even if some of the concepts aren’t fully developed. With an enticing gameplay loop, fun side activities, and a story I’m glad I saw through to the end, Pokémon Legends: Arceus sets a solid foundation for what I hope is the next evolution for the series,” Shea said.

Comparisons to older Pokémon early releases

One comparison that was quickly pointed out within the fanbase upon seeing these positive reviews was Sword and Shield. On Metacritic, the reviews for Sword were favorable with an 8/10 score, but the fans hold it to a 4.6/10. These differences can be explained in multiple ways, whether it be from higher expectations or shortcomings from the developers.

As a more recent example, the previous installment in the Pokémon franchise of Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl also had some neutral to positive early reviews. But, the big changes the game goes for are fitting with these early critics. The game’s graphical issues and slow start are issues that stand out to critics, but are overshadowed by the creative gameplay around a new setting.