Announced February 2021, Pokémon Legends: Arceus follows the Generation IV remakes of Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl as a unique prequel. The game takes place in Hisui, which eventually grew into Sinnoh.
Information regarding the game has trickled out since then, including various changes to gameplay, new regional variants, and more.
With Pokémon Legends: Arceus set to release January 2022, here is everything that we know about the game so far.
Exploring the Hisui region of Pokémon Legends: Arceus
Pokémon Legends: Arceus is the newest Pokémon game in the series, but it takes a slightly different approach to the core gaming mechanics that fans have come to know and love – and sometimes hate – in the main Pokémon games.
The game is set in the past, before the region known as Hisui became known as Sinnoh – the region for the Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl remakes that were released November 2021. Rather than focusing so much on catching and battling, Arceus instead focuses on catching and research tasks to help fill out the Pokédex (more below).
According to the official Legends website, it is an age “long ago when it was rare for people and Pokémon to live in close harmony.”
Important characters in Pokémon Legends: Arceus
In Pokémon Legends: Arceus, you can select to play as either Akari (the female protagonist) or Rei (the male protagonist). Presumably, you can rename whomever you choose, but the default names for each will be set as such. As in some of the previous games, the character not chosen becomes an NPC and, in this case, a fellow team member.
There are other important NPCs that have been revealed for Pokémon Legends: Arceus. First, there is Commander Kamado, the leader of the Galaxy Team that you join. The official website describes him as “a harsh leader at times, but the team members trust him deeply and know him to be reliable.”
The website also indicates that he is an ancestor of Professor Rowan, the Pokémon professor in Sinnoh – while also teasing that more resemblances will be revealed in the game.
Second is Captain Cyllene, the leader of the Survey Corps of Galaxy Team. There isn’t a need to fret, as unlike the Survey Corps in Attack on Titan, you will not be putting your life in danger fighting titans. Cyllene is described as “strict both with others and herself, but she sees your potential and allows you to take a trial to join the Galaxy Team.”
Third, Professor Laventon makes his debut, looking a bit enigmatic with his purple beanie and striped slacks. Laventon is described as conducting “research into Pokémon’s modes of life. He aims to create a complete Pokédex.”
Next, we have the four Wardens who guard “Pokémon Blessed with a Mysterious Power.” The Wardens “protect the special Pokémon by making sure that their territories remain safe and by providing offerings of food and water,” while also being described as greatly respected by the Hisuian people.
Mai is a Warden in the Obsidian Fieldlands, where a special Wyrdeer that she cares for resides. “She and her partner, Munchlax, grew up together as if they were siblings.”
Warden Lian cares for Kleavor in the Obsidian Fieldlands. “Though young, he has been given the role of warden because he has proven himself to be very talented.”
Iscan is a Warden who lives by the sea, caring for a special Basculegion in the area. “He can be a bit easy to frighten and isn’t too fond of Ghost-type Pokémon.”
Lastly is Warden Arezu. Not much has been revealed about her or the special Pokémon in her care. She seems to be located in Jubilife Village and is described as feeling a great responsibility as a warden, “and because of this, she tends to try to solve problems all by herself. She is tasked with the care of a certain lady Pokémon.”
There doesn’t appear to be an evil organization like Team Rocket or Team Galactic, but one could be introduced. As your focus is on completing the Pokédex rather than becoming a Pokémon Master, there does not appear to be any sort of Gym Challenge either.
Starter Pokémon in Pokémon Legends: Arceus
Unlike the previous main Pokémon games, your choice of starter is not from the region. Instead, you choose from three that the Pokémon website states “arrived with Professor Laventon, who encountered them in other regions he visited in the course of his research.”
First, you have the dual Grass and Flying-type Rowlet. Rowlet evolves into Dartix at level 17 and Decidueye at level 34, becoming a dual Grass and Ghost-type.
Next is the Johto Fire-type starter Cyndaquil. Cyndaquil evolves into Quilava at level 14 and Typhlosion at level 36, maintaining its pure Fire typing throughout the evolutionary line.
Last is the Water-type Oshawott. It evolves into Dewott at level 17 and Samurott at level 36, and is another pure typing through its evolutionary line. Oshawott was the Water-type Unova starter.
Which one will you choose?
What Pokémon have been revealed for Pokémon Legends: Arceus?
There’s a full list of Pokémon coming into Arceus, and the first is Shaymin (Land Forme), the mythical Grass-type. Shaymin is only available if you have saved game records from either Pokémon Sword or Pokémon Shield. This will give you an opportunity to catch Shaymin, but the request to do so will only appear in Jubilife Village after you’ve seen the game’s end credits.
However, you can nab the Shaymin Kimono Set from the clothier in Jubilife Village after joining the Galaxy Expedition Team.
Another is the game’s mascot in Arceus. The Mythical Pokémon that is said to have created Sinnoh – and possibly all of the Pokémon universe – plays prominently in the game as it is described as “Holding the key to this tale is the Pokémon known as Arceus”
Moving to the Hisuian forms: first is Hisuian Growlithe. Unlike its Kanto counterpart, this Growlithe is dual Rock and Fire-type with floppy hair that covers its eyes and a small horn protruding from its head. It has not yet been revealed if this Growlithe evolves and if it takes on a different Arcanine form or becomes another Pokémon altogether. Apparently, they tend to be seen in pairs in the wild.
Hisuian Braviary comes in as a dual Psychic and Flying-type Pokémon that also serves as a Ride Pokémon. It has been stated that Rufflet in Hisui evolve into this Braviary, which is larger than its Unovan variant.
The last two regional variants introduced are Hisuian Zorua and its evolution, Zoroark. The formerly pure Dark-types are now dual Normal and Ghost-types, but with a heartbreaking story.
They migrated to the Hisui region after being driven from their lands by humans, shunning them for their illusory techniques. However, the region was too harsh, and the Zorua perished, their spirits lingering and taking the form as this regional variant.
Zorua evolves into Zoroark at level 30, maintaining its dual typing. This Zorua is “ferociously hostile and aggressive toward people and other Pokémon,” but it also has a softer side as it has been seen protecting Hisuian Zorua.
The last three are evolved forms specific to Hisui, much like Braviary. Wyrdeer is the evolved form of Stantler, becoming a dual Normal and Psychic-type. The conditions to evolve Stantler into Wyrdeer have not yet been revealed.
Basculegion is the evolved form of Basculin, but it has not been indicated if there are any aesthetic differences between evolving a red or blue Basculin. It’s a dual Water and Ghost-type Pokémon and also comes with a tragic story: “This Evolution occurs when a Basculin is possessed by the souls of other Basculin from its schools that could not withstand the harsh journey upstream.”
Kleavor is a dual Rock and Bug-type Pokémon that is a regional evolution of Scyther. The evolution conditions have not yet been revealed. Scyther found special minerals in Hisui that caused them to evolve into Kleavor.
Here’s the list of all of the Pokémon in Arceus revealed through images and videos so far, but some may be specific to promotional material only:
- Shellos (East Sea)
- Geodude (Kanto)
- Rapidash (Kanto)
- Burmy (Plant Cloak)
- Gastrodon (East Sea)
A full Pokédex of the region has yet to be released, but the Pokémon shown thus far provide a nice foundation. It remains to be seen if there will be more Hisuian variants.
Overworld gameplay of Pokémon Legends: Arceus
While you will still catch and train your Pokémon through battling, the mechanisms for each are different in Pokémon Legends: Arceus. In fact, unlike most core series games, you do not have to battle to catch a Pokémon.
The gameplay is a hybrid of the core series, Pokémon Go, and Let’s Go Pikachu! and Let’s Go Eevee! You can still engage in battles with wild Pokémon and other trainers – although the latter seems to be far fewer than in previous games. A stark difference is that there isn’t a transition to a separate battle screen as you will engage in battle by simply throwing the Pokéball of your Pokémon near the wild one, seamlessly entering battle.
Battling is a bit different, forgoing the standard turn-based system for a system based on the stats of the Pokémon. There is a dedicated section to battling below, where we expand on these new mechanics.
There is also the sneaking mechanism that worked well in the Wild Area of Sword and Shield. Unlike those two games, with the sneaking mechanism in Arceus, you attempt to get as close to a Pokémon as possible to throw a Pokéball, trying to catch the wild Pokémon. This bypasses the traditional battles necessary to weaken a Pokémon before attempting a capture.
You must aim your throw carefully, like in Let’s Go Pikachu! and Let’s Go Eevee! The further away from a Pokémon you are, the more difficult it will be to gauge the arc and strength needed to land the ball on them. It is recommended that you sneak as close to a Pokémon as possible and lob a ball rather than attempt to throw from a distance.
However, Pokémon will have a different reaction to noticing you. Some may flee, while others may approach you with curiosity. Others may charge at you, enraged that you are in their area. It is best to observe each species of Pokémon to understand their tendencies, thus allowing you to best strategize for your eventual catches or battles.
You can also craft items – like different types of Pokéballs – and will need to make use of Base Camps while exploring to heal both your Pokémon and yourself. The website notes that you will be unable to continue your survey if you suffer too much damage – such as by falling from high places – so Base Camps are crucial to your gameplay. Aside from healing and using the workbench to craft items, not much else has been detailed regarding Base Camps.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus also incorporates Ride Pokémon, first introduced in the Sun and Moon core series games. You can ride Wyrdeer to swiftly move across the Obsidian Fieldlands, Basculegion to ride over bodies of water, and Hisuian Braviary to fly all over the region.
Akari and Rei can have their appearances changed at the Clothier and Hairdresser in Jubilife Village. Further, you can also have your picture taken with one of your Pokémon at the Photography Studio, where you can change the background and poses. There is also a General Store and Craftworks in the village, should you need new materials.
Like the anime, rather than sending your extra Pokémon to computer boxes, you will instead leave your spare Pokémon in the Pastures before heading out on survey missions. You will be able to see them roaming the Pastures. It has not yet been detailed if there are any further features or capabilities for the Pastures, such as breeding or training.
Lastly, you will be given an Arc Phone, the Hisuian version of what became the Rotom Phone in Galar. “This device appears to contain some sort of strange power, and it seems it will help guide you on your journey.” This will most likely include your map, Pokédex, and other necessary information.
How battling works in Pokémon Legends: Arceus
As previously mentioned, you can seamlessly enter battle by throwing the Pokéball of your chosen Pokémon near the wild one that you want to battle. You may notice the calligraphy-like font that overlays the battle resembles the font from other anime games like Naruto and Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles.
Eschewing the standard turn-based system, Arceus will determine attack order based on the stats of your Pokémon, namely speed. You may be able to attack multiple times – or heal or use items – before the opponent can attack. So, it would seem that fast Pokémon like Ninjask, Infernape, and many Electric-type Pokémon seemingly have the advantage, but this may not quite be the case.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus also introduces two different kinds of attack style: Agile Style and Strong Style – the latter not just relegated to the realm of New Japan Pro Wrestling, it seems. You still have your standard four attacks, but switching an attack to Agile Style will raise the action speed yet lower the power of the attack. Your next attack may come sooner as a result; this may be a clever tactic for slower Pokémon.
Strong Style is the opposite: it sacrifices some speed for increased strength. This lowers the action speed of your Pokémon, meaning that you may lose an attack chance or will suffer one or more unexpected attacks. It’s a tactic that seems to be suited to faster yet weaker Pokémon.
Further, you may come across Alpha Pokémon in your journey. Alphas are characterized by being larger than their counterparts with glowing red eyes. Alphas will always chase you down once they notice you. “They’re tough opponents, but they’ll become great allies if you manage to catch them. They may even drop rare items if you defeat them in battle.” The two Alphas shown were Electivire and Honchkrow.
Due to the tenuous relationship between most people and Pokémon in Hisui, very few people have befriended Pokémon enough to engage in trainer battles. “However, some people – such as certain wardens – have forged strong bonds with Pokémon and may challenge you to a battle.” With trainer battles being rare, you will have to battle many wild Pokémon to level up and evolve Pokémon in order to complete the Hisuian Pokédex.
Luckily, the game incorporates a mechanism to make the repeated battling and catching of Pokémon well worth the effort.
The importance of Research Tasks in Pokémon Legends: Arceus
Whereas in previous games catching a Pokémon once rewarded you with a full Pokédex entry, the Hisuian Pokédex is different, requiring you to complete different tasks associated with each Pokémon to unlock its full entry. These are, essentially, like the Field Research Tasks in Pokémon Go that have been shifted to fit the Hisuian time and region.
For example, in the pictured tasks for Shinx above, you will have to catch 15, defeat 15, defeat 15 with Ground-type moves, watch it use Quick Attack and Bite 25 times each, register two forms, and evolve three to complete the research tasks for Shinx, unlocking its full data entry. It is likely that each evolution also has its own tasks.
If most pre-evolved forms of Pokémon require a similar number of catches, then you will always need to have an ample supply of different types of Pokéballs. Some balls may work differently in Hisui as the Heavy Ball – more effective against heavier Pokémon than in previous games – works better on Pokémon that have not noticed you yet in Arceus. Due to of their weight, they do not fly as far as other balls, meaning that you will need to be close to utilize a Heavy Ball.
While gaining a full entry in the Pokédex is key, another impact of completing research tasks is that it will raise your rank with the Galaxy Expedition Team, granting you access to new areas. New areas mean new Pokémon, enabling you to keep climbing the ranks with the more research tasks that you complete.
Remember, a full Pokédex in Pokémon Legends: Arceus does not come from catching each species of Pokémon, but rather from completing all of the research tasks associated with each Pokémon. In theory, this adds hours of gameplay beyond what fans would usually expect from the core titles.
Introducing Noble Pokémon in Pokémon Legends: Arceus
Noble Pokémon seem to be like the Tapu in Alola, guardians of their realms. If Kleavor is any indication, then the Noble Pokémon will be those in the care of the four Wardens.
The Pokémon Legends: Arceus official website states that “a strange phenomenon is causing nobles to suddenly fly into a frenzy, making them incredibly difficult to rein in.” It adds that as part of the Survey Corps of the Galaxy Expedition Team, one of your charges will be to quell frenzied Nobles.
You will know they are frenzied because they not only grow, but they shine brightly, like the pictured Kleavor above. While battling was the only way to quell enraged Pokémon in the past – like the shiny Gyarados at the Lake of Rage – that is not the case in Arceus.
Rather, you will need to hit the frenzied Nobles with balms made from their favorite foods. You can have a Pokémon out to help battle, but you must dodge attacks from the Noble and continually toss balms at it until its aura fades, finally quelling its rage. Defeating them in a battle will briefly stun them, allowing you to lob more balms to eventually break the frenzied state. The number of balms is infinite, based on gameplay video.
It seems like once the rage is quelled, you can then engage in a traditional battle with the Nobles, with the thought being that you can catch them. It has not yet been confirmed if this is the case, however.
Gameplay videos for Pokémon Legends: Arceus
There have been two trailers thus far regarding Pokémon Legends: Arceus. The above announcement trailer heavily focuses on the sneaking and catching mechanics. There is some battling shown, but not how it will actually appear when you are playing.
The second trailer revealed both a release date and Kleavor as a Noble Pokémon, among other features.
It introduced Jubilife Village, the Clothier and Hairdresser, the Wardens, and the Galaxy Team. Further, the video showed the player riding each of the three Ride Pokémon in Wyrdeer, Basculegion, and Hisuian Braviary, even catching an Octillery while leaping from the water with Basculegion.
Release date for Pokémon Legends: Arceus
Pokémon Legends: Arceus releases in physical and digital forms for Nintendo Switch on Friday, January 28, 2022.
Pre-order bonuses for Pokémon Legends: Arceus
There are pre-order bonuses for both the physical and digital editions of the game, according to the official website. If you pre-order the physical copy – or “Retail Version” – of Arceus before May 9, 2022, you will receive the Hisuian Growlithe Kimono Set and the Baneful Fox Mask for your player to wear. The latter mask seems to resemble Hisuian Zoroark.
If you pre-order the digital version before the same date, you will receive 30 Heavy Balls in addition to the Kimono and Mask set. You should note that certain retailers may have their own pre-order bonuses.
Lastly, in addition to Shaymin and the Shaymin Kimono Set for having data from Sword and Shield, you can also receive Pikachu and Eevee-themed masks if you have save data from either Let’s Go Pikachu! or Let’s Go Eevee! The player dons the mask on their forehead.
The official website indicates that, to receive these clothing items – and presumably the pre-order bonuses as well – you will need to speak to the Clothier in Jubilife Village. So, you can claim your rewards approximately one hour into the game.
There you have it, everything we know so far about the highly anticipated Pokémon Legends: Arceus release in 2022. Remember to pre-order if you want those bonuses, and be ready to play when it releases on January 28!