Pokemon Legends: Arceus is here, and it’s been a big success both commercially and critically. But it hasn’t been perfect.
The game’s blend of open-world elements, action sequences, and standard Pokemon gameplay has breathed new life into the franchise for the first time in years. While this is a big step forward, there are still some important improvements to be made.
Odds are that Pokemon Legends: Arceus will be the foundation for the future of the series. This is good news because of how great the game is, but there are certainly some rough edges that need to be smoothed out if this is the system to be used in Pokemon games moving forward.
Pokemon Legends: Arceus needs major graphical improvements
Anyone that has played Pokemon Legends: Arceus, or even just seen the game’s trailers, knows that the graphics in this game are truly awful. While the gameplay more than makes up for it for most fans, there’s no denying that this is the ugliest AAA video game in some time.
Most every facet of the graphics was bad in one way or another. The textures on Pokemon were generally bad, with many of them just being solid colors. Draw distances are short, props and Pokemon can be seen popping into existence, and far-off Pokemon can be seen with animations running at just two frames per second. This isn’t even touching upon random issues with shadows and reflections.
It kind of goes without saying that the expectation is for the next iteration of Pokemon to look better than this. There’s no question that this is possible, as games such as Fortnite and Genshin Impact look better on mobile devices that have less raw power behind them than the Nintendo Switch console.
Odds are that developer Game Freak will figure out ways to make future games run more smoothly. But if it doesn’t, that might be a problem.
Players should be able to ride their own Pokemon
Pokemon Legends: Arceus did something that no other Pokemon game really has. It gave the player’s party of Pokemon a physical presence and practical use outside of battle with the resource gathering system.
This added a lot to the Pokemon Legends: Arceus experience and gave lots of Pokemon an extra bit of personality. The trouble is that the Pokemon that ultimately get the most screentime during the game aren’t actually ones that belong to the trainer at all.
Ride Pokemon were first introduced in Sun and Moon, with the trainer able to unlock and mount a handful of rented Pokemon that replaced HMs and many key items. They came back in Pokemon Legends: Arceus with the likes of Wyrdeer, Braviary, and Basculegion, and while they’re not bad, they have a much bigger presence on-screen than the player’s own party.
This doesn’t need to be the case. Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee actually had 18 different Pokemon that the player could ride. Doing something similar in a Pokemon Legends: Arceus follow-up and making the player balance in-battle strength with the ability to easily navigate the map could add a lot to the experience.
Pokemon Legends: Arceus should have had control changing options
Pokemon Legends: Arceus has really weird controls. You get used to them with time, but even after tens of hours of play, it’s easy to forget which button is which.
Even at the best of times, it makes little sense that up on the control pad opens the menus while the plus button is what summons a ride Pokemon. This isn’t even to mention things like rolling, crouching, and running that tend to get mapped to other buttons in other series.
While the default control scheme ultimately works once you get used to it, it’s weird that Pokemon Legends: Arceus doesn’t offer much in the way of alternatives. Having some amount of freedom there would be welcome in any follow-ups to the game.
Do away with repetitive bosses in future Pokemon games
Pokemon Legends: Arceus broke the Pokemon mold by having action game sequences for its boss battles. The Frenzied Noble Pokemon are radically different from the standard gym leaders, but unfortunately there’s very little diversity to these battles.
The five Frenzied Noble battles and one post-game bonus mission ultimately follow the same formula. Dodge attacks, hit it with balms, initiate a battle when it’s stunned, and repeat until its health bar is empty.
This isn’t a bad formula and these battles are rare enough that they don’t get to be bothersome, but there’s definitely more that can be done with them. Whether it’s mid-fight transformations, stealth elements, or anything else, there’s room for creativity with these fights that just wasn’t realized in Pokemon Legends: Arceus.
It’s possible the Frenzied Noble boss concept will be scrapped entirely from here in the same way that Sun and Moon’s Totem Pokemon were. But if they’re sticking around, things should get mixed up a bit more in future Pokemon games.
Future stories should be less linear than in Pokemon Legends: Arceus
The story in Pokemon Legends: Arceus is very linear. While players are given incentive to explore new areas and catch as many Pokemon as possible, progression is ultimately a straight line. The series ought to get back to its roots and give players a bit more freedom when it comes to tackling objectives.
In Pokemon Red and Blue, players actually had some degree of flexibility in terms of how they progressed through the game’s story. After beating the first three gym leaders, clearing the rock tunnel, and chasing Team Rocket out of the Pokemon Tower, the player has the freedom to go after a few different gym leaders, battle Team Rocket, or explore some optional areas.
This approach would be more fitting today than ever before. While Pokemon Legends: Arceus isn’t a fully open-world game, it does offer the player freedom of movement and the ability to explore areas more thoroughly than in past Pokemon games. Making the story less linear in a similar fashion would be a major boon.