Pokémon Legends: Arceus is the highly-anticipated open-world Pokémon RPG, revealed during February 2021’s Pokémon Presents livestream, which celebrated 25 years of the Pokémon franchise.
Announced alongside Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl (remakes of the revered Nintendo DS titles), it looks like Pokémon Legends: Arceus is going to be the game that breaks new ground for the series, with a historical setting and an explorable open world.
Confirmed for Nintendo Switch, Pokémon Legends: Arceus will act as a prequel to the main series, taking players to a much older version of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl’s Sinnoh region, where Pokémon roamed freely, and they’ll be charged with completing one of the region’s first Pokédexes.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus is scheduled to launch worldwide on January 28, 2022 but in the meantime, we’ve gathered together everything we know about the game right here for your perusal.
[Update: With Nintendo confirmed to be attending E3 2021, we’re hoping we might see more about Pokémon Legends: Arceus this summer. Read on to find out more.]
Cut to the chase
- What is it? A new Pokémon game separate from the mainline series
- When can I buy it? Early 2022
- What can I play it on? Nintendo Switch
Pokemon Legends Arceus reveal trailer
Pokémon Legends Arceus was arguably the biggest news from the Pokémon Presents showcase, where it debuted alongside a trailer showing off some early in-engine gameplay.
Pokemon Legends Arceus release date
So far, all we know is that Pokémon Legends Arceus is being developed by Game Freak and will release in early 2022 for the Nintendo Switch. This puts it a few months beyond the release of Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, both due to launch simultaneously in late 2021.
How early is “early 2022”, though? Looking at Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl might give us some clues. Since Pokémon X and Y in 2013, mainline Pokémon entries tend to release around October or November. Based on that, we expect the remakes to launch somewhere in that end-of-year timeframe.
As such, we don’t think Pokémon Legends Arceus will release too soon into 2022. Six months after the release of Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl might be a safe bet, so potentially look to Q2 2022 for a possible release window for Pokémon Legends Arceus.
Pokémon Legends Arceus: what we know
Pokémon Legends Arceus returns players to the Sinnoh region, albeit in a time long before the events of any mainline Pokémon game. The game evokes a historical Japanese setting, evident in its artwork, landscapes and character designs.
Pokémon Legends Arceus looks quite unlike any other effort we’ve seen so far in the series, and looks to expand on open world elements found in Pokémon Sword and Shield. Those games featured a pretty scaled back open world element, the Wild Area, which felt a little tacked on, like a separate entity to the rest of the game world.
In Pokémon Legends Arceus, it appears that the scope of the open world is far greater. The trailer introduces us to what looks like a hub town, surrounded by a wider Sinnoh that can be explored.
Stealth elements could play a role in Pokémon Legends Arceus. In the trailer, we see our character not only throw Pokéballs from great distances, but also perform a dodge roll and hide in tall grass. This could be used as a means to stay hidden from particularly skittish Pokémon, or perhaps certain Pokémon will also pose a danger to humans.
Curiously, players won’t have to enter a battle in order to catch Pokémon. This is now done more fluidly via the open world, where players can attempt to sneak up on Pokémon, then aim and throw Pokéballs at them for a catch. Whether or not we can still catch Pokémon via battles remains to be seen, though.
Speaking of battling, that element of the series is retained in Pokémon Legends Arceus, featuring the familiar turn-based gameplay. Animations seem to be more theatrical and improved across the board, perhaps in response to a criticism often leveled at Pokémon Sword and Shield where battle animations were somewhat tepid.
By throwing Pokéballs containing your partner Pokémon near a wild one, you’re able to seamlessly transition into battle, according to the game’s website. This might make the game take an approach similar to that seen in the Pokémon anime series, and definitely has our interest piqued.
Pokémon games usually get you going with one ‘starter’ Pokémon at the outset of your journey, and that’s no different in Pokémon Legends Arceus. What is different, though, is that the three Pokémon on offer this time are all from separate generations. They are Cyndaquil (Gen 2), Oshawott (Gen 5) and Rowlet (Gen 7), representing the usual Fire, Water and Grass types respectively.
Pokémon Legends Arceus: the Pokémon confirmed so far
Pokémon Legends: Arceus will task players with filling one of the region’s first Pokédexes so it’s natural to wonder which Pokémon we’re going to be chasing down in the game. There’s no comprehensive official list just yet but thanks to our friends at GamesRadar, we do have a list of the twenty Pokémon that appeared in the game’s announcement trailer.
So, twenty so far! Given the game is set in the Sinnoh region, it’s not entirely surprising that there are a lot of Generation 4 Pokémon in that list and it seems reasonable to assume that their evolutionary forms will also probably be present in the game.
We expect that in the run-up to the game’s release, Nintendo and Game Freak will confirm more of the Pokémon that we can expect to see in Pokémon Legends: Arceus so we’ll keep updating this list as and when they’re revealed.
Pokémon Legends Arceus: news and rumors
We’ve been waiting patiently for an update on the progress of Pokemon Legends: Arceus since its announcement and it looks like E3 2021 is the most likely time we’ll get one. Taking place between June 12 and June 15, E3 is going to be a completely digital event this year and Nintendo has confirmed that it’ll be attending.
Nintendo hasn’t specifically revealed what it’s going to be bringing to the show, so Pokémon Legends Arceus isn’t a guarantee, but given its release date is slated for January 28, 2022, it would be the time and the place to reveal more.
Nintendo is now used to the all-digital approach that the ESA is taking with E3 this year and a tweet from Dough Bowser has indicated that we can expect another Nintendo Direct-style presentation, with a promise to make “the virtual format fun and engaging.”
It’s going to be great to get the video game industry back together with our fans this June. We’ll make the virtual format fun and engaging. Looking forward to seeing you all in June! https://t.co/ZQidcWqAF4April 7, 2021
Pokémon Legends Arceus: what we’d like to see
Pokémon Legends Arceus is already being compared to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and not without good reason. The surrounding landscapes and horizons look like they’ll offer the time-old adage of ‘if you see it, you can go there’.
It would be awesome to have an open world in Pokémon Legends Arceus as ambitious as that. We’re not asking for a 1:1 recreation of Hyrule, but extra traversal options like being able to climb mountains, fly through the air atop certain Pokémon or fully explore hidden nooks and crannies sounds very appealing indeed.
If Pokémon Sword and Shield got one thing right, it was its eclectic bunch of superbly written characters. We’d love to see this trend continue in Pokémon Legends Arceus, especially when the historical setting could provide all sorts of fun characters and archetypes.
Earlier we mentioned that recent Pokémon games’ animation quality has been lacking, particularly when it comes to Pokémon battles. That’s because the same animations have been consistently reused since the first true 3D entry in the mainline series, Pokémon X and Y.
While we know it’s important to many fans that the National Dex (the complete roster of Pokémon across all generations) be represented again in some way, we think it could be equally beneficial to feature a scaled back roster of Pokémon with a greater variety of revamped animations.
Touching a bit more on that, it’s possible that given the time period in which Pokémon Legends Arceus takes place, it’s possible that certain Pokémon might not even exist yet. This makes Pokémon Legends Arceus a prime testing ground for Game Freak to really wow us with improvements to animation quality across the board, particularly if there are fewer Pokémon overall to work with.