Earlier this year, The Pokémon Company generated hype with no bounds by announcing the creation of its first-ever open-world RPG, Pokémon Legends: Arceus. Three months after that announcement we still know very little about the mysterious spin-off — though Nintendo did today reveal when we can expect to play the game.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus will be released on January 28, 2022 in every worldwide market where Nintendo Switch games are available. In the game’s first trailer, Nintendo said the game would be released in “early 2022,” so January is pretty much the best-case scenario we could’ve hoped for.
Legends looks to be a radical departure from the tried-and-true Pokémon formula. Gone is almost every standby of the series, replaced instead by a new open-world design reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Fans of the series are very excited to see what Pokémon does with this new direction; if it’s well-received, it could usher in an entirely new era of the iconic series.
Welcome to ancient Sinnoh — Pokémon Legends: Arceus will be unlike anything the series has done before, though some classic gameplay elements, like a turn-based battle system, will carry over into the game’s open world.
Legends’ setting is key to the spin-off. Players will explore the Sinnoh region we’ve come to know and love, but they’ll do so in a time long before Diamond and Pearl take place. The main plot will focus on the creation of Sinnoh’s first Pokédex and will explore the new legendary Pokémon Arceus.
Besides taking place in the distant past, Legends’ biggest switch-up to the series is that open-world design. Players will explore the Sinnoh region through an endless-seeming overworld, where they can choose whether or not to interact with Pokémon along the way. It’s like the game took Sword and Shield’s “wild areas” and made an entire game out of them.
Big risk; big payoff? — After 25 years of playing the same game over and over again, the Pokémon series has gone a little stale. That’s not to say we didn’t enjoy the Switch’s additions to the series — Sword and Shield are fun! — but nostalgia can only take you so far. Eventually, The Pokémon Company was going to have to come up with something fresh.
Legends will be a monumental test for The Pokémon Company and Game Freak, the majority developer behind the video game series. If fans like the new direction, Pokémon will have struck gold.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus is available for pre-order now. January is feeling pretty far away, though. At least the Sinnoh remakes, Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, will be released in November to tide us over.