Pokémon Legends Arceus: Controls Guide and Tips for Early Gameplay

Here's your complete controls guide and gameplay tips for Pokémon Legends: Arceus.


Pokémon Legends: Arceus released as the newest core game in the series. Unlike the other core games, this is a prequel and takes place decades before the events of current day Sinnoh in what was known as Hisui. The game also takes unique twists to many familiar game mechanics, possibly necessitating an adjustment period.

Below, you will find complete controls for Pokemon Legends: Arceus. Gameplay tips will follow, focused on helping you familiarize yourself with the game mechanics and successfully navigating the early parts of the game.


Pokémon Legends Arceus Nintendo Switch general controls

  • Move: LS
  • Control Camera: RS
  • Dash: L3
  • Investigate or Talk: A
  • Crouch or Rise: B
  • Dodge: Y (once taught)
  • Ready an Item or Pokémon: X
  • Focus on Nearby Target: ZL
  • Aim and Throw Item or Pokémon: ZR (hold and release)
  • Switch Item or Pokémon: L and R
  • Check Arc Phone:
  • Open Menu: D-Pad Up
  • Check Pokédex: D-Pad Down
  • Ride Pokémon: + (once unlocked)
  • Ride Pokémon Dash: B (while riding)
  • Ride Pokémon Jump: Y (while riding)
  • Select Different Ride Pokémon: D-Pad Left and Right

If you release your Pokémon on accident or too far from an enemy, simply press ZR again to recall it back to its Pokéball.

Pokémon Legends Arceus Nintendo Switch battle controls

  • Move: LS
  • Control Camera: RS
  • View Action Order: Y
  • Select Move: A
  • Run Away: B
  • Ready Item or Pokémon: X
  • Check Status: +
  • Check Items: D-Pad Up
  • Check Party: D-Pad Down
  • Change Target: ZL
  • Throw Item or Pokémon: ZR
  • Change Item or Pokémon: L and R
  • Select Agile or Strong Style: L and R when move is highlighted (once unlocked)

Note that the left and right joysticks are denoted as LS and RS, respectively. Pressing on either is marked as L3 or R3.

Below, you will find some gameplay tips to make the first few hours in the Obsidian Fieldlands a great success.

Understand wild Pokémon disposition to better your chances at catching!

As you enter the Obsidian Fieldlands for your survey trial, you will be given a tutorial on different Pokémon dispositions. First, the Bidoof you see will be curious and approach you. Second, the Starly you’re tasked with catching is skittish and will flee if they see you. This is indicated by a red exclamation point appearing above them just before they escape.


Third, the Shinx is an aggressive type that will attack once it sees you. This will be indicated by a red X appearing above them. Importantly, this means two things. One, you must engage it in battle to attempt a catch. Two, remember, you can take damage, causing a blackout! If you see an aggressive Pokémon rushing you, quickly switch your throwable to your Pokémon (hit X, then R or L to choose your desired one), hold ZR and aim with RS, then release ZR to send out your Pokémon, but remember it has to be near the enemy.

In any case, the best course of action is to always crouch and sneak up on Pokémon. In particular, use shadows and the taller grass to hide, planning your attack from there. Regardless of their disposition, if they don’t see or notice you, then half the battle is already won!

Note that you can also walk in shallow water in Arceus, a change from previous games. This will allow you to access some areas in the Obsidian Fieldlands that once was only navigable with a Ride Pokémon. However, you cannot walk or swim in deeper water. You will need the Hisui Ride Pokémon Basculegion for these areas, which you will unlock later in the game.


While you’re in or near shallow water, keep an eye out for any water types that may be in the vicinity!

Check your Action Order during battles to strategize your plan of attack!

Your first official trainer battle is against a Togepi. Note the Action Order on the right and how to hide or display it with Y.

A new feature in Arceus is the ability to check the Action Order during battle. You can do this by pressing Y during a battle. This will show the turn order and in the beginning of the game, it’s generally just going to alternate turns.

However, if you use moves that boost your speed – like Agility or Flame Wheel – you may find yourself having two turns before your opponent has one! Of course, this doesn’t account for priority moves such as Quick Attack or Aqua Jet.

Later in the game, you will unlock the ability to have your Pokémon perform Agile and Strong Styles. These are new features to Arceus that add a bit more strategy to battles.

Agile Style will cause your attacks to be quicker at the cost of power. The benefit is you may be able to pull off multiple moves before your opponent, but if you aren’t combining a type effectiveness with STAB (same type attack bonus), then the damage might not be very much.

Strong Style is the opposite, granting more attack power at the cost of speed. This means that after performing a move with Strong Style, you me be susceptible to multiple attacks from your opponent, especially if they’re using Agile Style. It might be best to use Strong Style moves with a Pokémon you know will lose the speed battle regardless.

To switch between the styles, hit L and R during battle with a move highlighted. Again, you will need to unlock this feature after a few hours of gameplay.

Check the Arc Phone to keep track of your missions and requests

Showing Professor Laventon the (huge) Arc Phone.

The Arc Phone is this game’s version of the Rotom Phone. However, this item is truly one-of-a-kind as you’re pulled through a rift in the sky, meeting Arceus along the way, who grants you the phone. You will find it almost immediately after your first interaction with Professor Laventon, identifiable by a golden circle of light.

Once you obtain the map, the Arc Phone becomes crucial. Open it by pressing – (the minus button) to view the map, which has three different zoom settings. From here, you can also toggle to view your missions and requests by pressing Y.

Missions are story-related and must be completed to advance. These will mostly come from the Galaxy Team and Laventon. For example, your first mission is given to you by Captain Cyllene to conduct your survey trial. Without completing the trial, you can’t advance. Missions will be marked on the map, and each mission has a unique name.

Requests are optional and given to you by talking to characters. Interestingly, unlike most NPCs in Pokémon games, nearly every NPC has a name that you can see as you approach them. Talking to those that have a white circle above their heads will grant requests. For example, you will receive requests early in Jubilife Village to catch a Wurmple for them, show someone the complete entry for Starly, and to catch a big Buizel for another person. Requests also come with unique names.

Use the Pokedex to track your research tasks

The research tasks and number needed to complete Shinx’s page. The unique task is “Number you’ve defeated with Ground-type moves.”

Once you become a member of Galaxy Team, you will receive the Pokédex. Importantly, catching a Pokémon once does not unlock its entry! Instead, you will have to complete a number of varied research tasks associated with that Pokémon.

For example, Shinx has one task where you have to defeat a number of them using Ground-type moves. Togepi needs to be caught while sleeping a number of times. You will need to catch a few big Bidoofs for another.

The starters have three move-based tasks, which states you need to see them perform a move a certain number of times. This means it will count even if your opponent launches the attack!

Each Pokemon will require you to catch and defeat a certain number of them. However, since each Pokemon can have different circumstances for their tasks, it’s best to check your research status as you approach a Pokemon.

Once you see the white cursor around a Pokemon, indicating you are close enough to throw a ball, hold ZL to focus on that Pokemon. Then, press D-Pad Down to bring up the Pokedex page for that specific Pokemon. It’s a quick and easy way to determine if you even need to catch or defeat any more of that one!

Keep in mind that you are basically embarking on the first-ever attempt to complete a Pokedex. Laventon informs you after you “fell out of the sky” that Pokéballs have just been invented, so this is a new endeavor.

Think about it this way: it took decades of research and technological advancement to where a single catch electronically register a caught Pokémon, and Hisui was the genesis.

How to evolve Pokémon in Pokémon Legends: Arceus

Another tweaked mechanic is evolving Pokémon. Unlike previous versions, evolution is not automatic upon level or meeting certain conditions. Rather, evolutions are triggered manually in Arceus.

Most evolve through leveling, so in the same area you see the new move notification, you’ll see an notification about being ready for evolution. In the menu, you’ll know a Pokémon is ready to evolve by gold Pokéball icon on their nameplate. Here, you can trigger the evolution by pressing X when that Pokémon is selected.

For those that use items like Stones, select the item and hold it over the Pokémon to see if it’s compatible, then trigger the evolution (which isn’t much different from before).

There are still some that require a move to be known, be a certain sex (male or female), or a certain time of day. Once these conditions are met, you will be notified and have to manually trigger the evolution.

Like with the new move learning mechanic (below), this creates a more efficient game. No longer will you have to hit B to cancel an evolution, allowing you to freely choose when to evolve your chosen Pokémon once conditions are met.

Change your party by going to the Pastures in Jubilife Village

In front of the Pastures, where all of your excess Pokémon are stored. Note the player is wearing the Shaymin set for having Sword and Shield data.

With no PC system to store your Pokémon, Arceus incorporates the Pastures in Jubilife Village as your storage system. You have eight Pastures where you can place Pokémon. However, with the number you need catch, you will quickly fill up your Pastures. Don’t worry as you can release Pokémon from your Pastures to create more room.

After all, you only have to catch a certain number for each entry; nothing says you have to keep all those you caught.

To change your party, head to the Pastures and speak to the attendant. From there, edit your team as you wish. You can also change your party at Base Camp by speaking to the Galaxy Member and selecting “I want to see my Pokémon.”

A handy feature in Arceus is that while Pokémon can still only have four available moves, you can freely replace moves with learned moves at your will. No more Heart Scale and Move Reminders!

After entering the menu with D-Pad Up, go your Pokémon tab with ZL or ZR. Select a Pokémon, then select “Change moves” to switch between learned and available moves. This makes it particularly useful for strategizing against eventual Alpha and Noble Pokémon, as well as Wardens who caretake for the Nobles.

Another subtle benefit of this feature is that after a Pokémon learns a new move from gaining a level, you will see in blue “New Move!” above that Pokémon’s head after experience is given. Rather than make you decide to forget a move or not, you will bypass that altogether and simply continue. It makes for a much more seamless gameplay experience.

Refer to the Survey Tips whenever in doubt

Unread Survey Tips will have the yellow tab on them.

Every tutorial that appears in the game can be accessed whenever you want from the Game Menu. Hit D-Pad Up and then ZR or ZL to access the main menu with Game Controls and Settings. Survey Tips will be the first option on this page.

You can take your time studying every tip you’ve unlocked to ensure you understand ever point. Those you have yet to read a second time through the Survey Tips menu will have a yellow tab to the side; simply scroll to it to remove the tab.

If you’re struggling to catch Pokemon because they keep running away from you, go over the “Focusing in the Field” and “Crouching Down” Survey Tips. If you want a cue on the new evolution mechanics, read that once more. Basically, always come back to the Survey Tips so you don’t do anything unnecessary.

These tips should help you catch many, many Pokémon in the Obsidian Fieldlands and beyond. Good luck completing the Pokédex so you can meet Arceus!


Bruce Lee

Bruce "Lee" is the Lead Editor for OutsiderGaming. He's a passionate writer, great editor who works tirelessly to develop young writers, and of course a great gamer. Bruce is interested in many games--from MLB the Show to the newest Pokemon releases.
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