Pokemon Sword/Shield (Switch)
First impression of Isle of Armor expansion: this region somehow feels more ambitious than the entire main game. Obviously much smaller in scope than the wild area and it's still constrained by the (fairly simplistic) mechanics of the main game, but I've already felt a much greater sense of discovery in my first three hours here than I felt in the entire Wild Area. World design is still not on the level of something like Breath of the Wild, obviously, or even Dragon Quest XI, but it's definitely a step in the right direction. It feels much more like an actual sandbox, as opposed to one long corridor. We'll see how I feel when all is said and done, though, since I was similarly optimistic when I first started Sword.
Mbun last edited by Mbun
I regret buying this. They didn't fix anything, and there's a ton of new problems. The very design of the new area also makes certain old problems worse than they used to be. Remember the always on EXP Share the devs actually lied about having a toggle before release and it didn't? The new DLC hands you a new EXP Charm that gives you even more EXP which likewise cannot be disabled, stored, or discarded even. There's a machine that you can put items into that spits out new items, but it is very recipe based, and not something you can figure out on your own. There's a boy who tells you random recipes for Watts, but the way he tells you them makes it frustrating because it isn't all on screen at once to screencap easily for storing for later. It pretty much actively encourages you to just cheat and look them up online. The actual story part is really short. There's no new Pokemon, besides what was shown in promotions already. The tower part is actually nothing, no strategy one versus one fights that basically amount to RNG unless you're overleveled, which the game encourages you to be. Level Scaling works poorly since it is either everything is around level 20 or everything is around level 60 depending on if you've seen the credits for the main game yet. If you have a team of level 100 Pokemon, have fun preparing a whole new team to be the proper level for the new fights. If you're anywhere between the first gym and credits, same thing except ditching your team of whatever level stuff for level 15 stuff. If you're in postgame, when you receive the new Pokemon, there's nowhere feasible on the island to actually train it, because it is level 10 and everything else is level 60, so you just have to resort to pumping it full of exp candy, which isn't satisfying at all. There's an NPC that can dig up ore for you, that's used for alot of stuff on the island, but the last three times I encountered her she immediately broke her shovel, said that's life, and disappeared. Oh, and she can randomly spawn out on islands in the middle of nowhere. So, that's kind of a time waste. The way these mushrooms you need three of to make soup to give stuff a g-max gene spawn is incredibly random and frustrating and time wasting. Diglett are pretty damn hard to see on lots of terrain, especially at some times of the day. They introduced a Watt-sink, but earning enough Watts for it basically comes down to praying to RNG that another NPC does well at digging for them, and it costs alot of that ore the other lady sucks at digging up to even try.
You might have fun at first exploring the new environments they made. They feel big, more interesting than the main game's Wild Area for sure. Heck, I got lost on the island for a not short amount of time yesterday. But eventually, when you're riding around it twenty times, looking for mole specs, suffering endless queueing for raids nobody shows up for, and praying a mushroom appears, you're going to understand. Least this wasn't a new game that costed $60 I guess, but if this was a Steam game, I would've refunded it.
Shoulderguy last edited by Shoulderguy
@mbun I feel the exact same way about the dlc. It took me about 3 hours to finish the story. The only thing left for me to do is grind for more mushrooms so I can g-max my starter Pokemon. The process of doing that is tedious and not worth the time. I was hoping for some end game content with new powerful Pokemon.
Man, I guess I'm in the minority here. This is exactly what I was hoping for from the DLC. Maybe it's my playstyle, but I'm 5 hours in and just got Kubfu. I actually agree with just about all the flaws @Mbun listed out, too. I think one difference is that I set a rule when I started that I would only allow myself to have one member of my champion team in the party at a time (think Ash taking Pikachu over to a new region). The new exp charm is lame, but it's been pretty helpful at getting my new guys up to mid 40s so that they can start taking over and fighting wild Pokemon on their own. My RP has inadvertently made this DLC much more challenging than I was expecting, and I've actually had a few close calls because I lacked proper type matchups.
I will say that having a flat level for every encounter is just bad game design, though, and really cripples any sense of progression when catching new guys. Everyone evolves to their final form automatically within 2 levels, and since there's no Pokemon center on island you have to fly back to Galar proper to re-learn all the moves you inevitably missed. It evolution into more of a hassle than an event, which is antithetical to the appeal of Pokemon, IMO. Still, I stand by my previous assessment (so far) in that this is much closer to the environment I was hoping the Wild Area would be from the start. I can't believe I'm playing a Pokemon game where I get lost and then unexpectedly come out in an area I recognize. It really feels like they're finally figuring out how to design 3D worlds, albeit a decade later than they probably should have. I'm hopeful for the future again in a way I wasn't expecting.
I think one difference is that I set a rule when I started that I would only allow myself to have one member of my champion team in the party at a time (think Ash taking Pikachu over to a new region).
That's the thing. Like Huber says you have to let yourself be scared by horror games to enjoy them, I too try to lean into the RP. I found out the level curve for me was going to be level 60s, so I had Rebecca breed me nice HA Grookey egg (used Sobble in main campaign, will use Scorbunny for DLC 2) and candy boosted it to level 50 before walking into the DLC, along with the Galarian Slowpoke we were given when the DLC was first announced boosted to 50. Once I was on the island, I slowly assembled a new team from cherrypicking wild stuff there I was interested in and had never used before. Preserved some of the challenge as you said, and definitely way better than smashing the island up with level 100s that are fully EV trained, but well... I still had the experience I detailed before. What could've helped some is some actual new Pokemon / Galarian Forms besides the ones promo'd already. That's what helped me have a better time with the base game. This lacks that completely though.
Still, I stand by my previous assessment (so far) in that this is much closer to the environment I was hoping the Wild Area would be from the start. I can't believe I'm playing a Pokemon game where I get lost and then unexpectedly come out in an area I recognize.
I agree with that, but also Xenoblade has set my standards way too high, and it is nowhere close to that level. What really broke the island for me is you can't even surf all the way around it. You hit invisible walls when you try to. To be fair, you can surf around most of it, like 4/5ths of it, but for some reason they don't let you finish the loop. Everything that seems big and confusing at first eventually does start to make sense, and when it does you realize how not big stuff actually is. That said, if we got a new game with chunks of world like this between towns, that'd be really cool.
@mbun Yeah, like I said, I think all your criticisms are completely valid. For some reason they're just not bothering me that much. Part of it is probably that, as much as I love Pokemon, I don't think the games have had good level/world design since gen 4 (which gets a bit of a free pass since they were still working within essentially the same design constraints as Gen 1). I've set the bar so low that even passable world design has left me pleasantly surprised.
Found all the Diglett. Loved the second to last reward. Not so much the final reward. Didn't help that someone lied to me and told me they give you a certain shiny for it. Not as high on the busywork as Kyle seemed to be during his stream, especially since some of them devolve to just mashing A everywhere because you literally cannot see them under brush or from the wrong facing camera direction, but they were a good way to force the player to find all the little nooks and crannies of The Isle of Armor. Not that there even are that many, but compared to the base game, I guess there's loads. The map of the DLC area does a pretty poor job representing where the player actually is, and that made finding some of the little islands kind of confusing, but wander around long enough and you eventually bump into stuff. I do agree with Kyle's general sentiment of appreciating GameFreak making quests you do in the world involving Pokemon in interesting ways. I too want to see more of that, just
maybedefinitely not in pixel hunt hide and seek form.
So the other thing I've started dipping my toes into is total spoilers, so spoilers begin here, and see you on the other side:
Pokemon following you is a fun surprise they didn't advertise before launch, hence the mindful of spoiler courtesy here, once you get far enough into the DLC, but only within the island cause ???, and it leaves loads to be desired. Many Pokemon are strikingly slow moving, much too slow to keep up with the player, even when you're walking pretty slowly. Even many Pokemon with high base speeds suffer from this. There's also really silly shit like wild Sharpedo that well, torpedo towards you, but when you have a Sharpedo following you, it won't take advantage of the same animation and speed to keep up with you, which makes no sense really. Many aquatic Pokemon don't have swimming animations programmed in, so they just stare longingly from the shore at you when you venture into the water, but from what I've seen most of the aquatic Pokemon have no problem coming onto land, even when it involves float flying through the air. Oh, and Pokemon often clip through the ground or sometimes do goofy shit on stairs. Look up Falinks on stairs. Arceus why?!
Still spoiling below and above, tread carefully:
So, they clearly did a bad job again and #GameFreakLied and all that jazz amirite? Well no, there's also alot of good around this feature. Pokemon following you hasn't been a thing since our current generation divided by two HeartGold / SoulSilver, unless you count that trash fire named Let's Go, and in that game you only had the first 151 Pokemon plus Meltan line and Alolan forms that followed you, versus the pretty sizable dex Sword and Shield is working up with the hefty addition to the total this first DLC brought and the next DLC will expand even further. What I'm saying is they had to do alot of animations in this department, and lots of them actually are quite charming. Some goofy Pokemon flop around, some Pokemon drop to all fours to sprint after you, there's an iceberg Pokemon that floats slowly through the water, floaters / flyers will follow you through the air no matter land or sea beneath, and of course the adorable Wooloo will roll after you. Plus every one of them has an animation when you click them that I'd guess is recycled from Camp, but that's more just an assumption than anything. So what I'm saying is they did at least do a large amount of charming work in this department, then didn't advertise it to keep it a surprise, and you'll probably only see 5% of said work while playing normally, similar to Camp animations in the base game. Even flawed as it is, it is still a commendable effort that I hope they stick with and improve over the course of the next couple games until the kinks are worked out and it becomes feasible to sustain. I'll be really disappointed if next DLC we can't have Pokemon follow us anymore or can't bring the Pokemon it adds back to the Isle of Armor to cruise around with.
Alright, no more spoilers for now. Except that stuff above. Don't click that if you're not done with the DLC. But speaking of spoilers, GameFreak apparently left code in for the second DLC, so there's way more I know about that now than I should, including roughly the size of it, all the new Pokemon it is adding, and the basic story structure of it. Why do they learn and then immediately unlearn? The good news is the spoilers actually seem pretty promising. Screaming at myself for accidentally spoiling one of the cool things ahead of time even. If I reassess value combining what I've played of DLC 1 with what DLC 2 looks to be shaping into, yeah it is probably worth the $30, but I still wish some of the ridiculous things mentioned in my rant posts were addressed. Some of this shit isn't even that hard to fix, like adding toggles to certain key items, when I know they already have programmed a world state before you received them to pull from if one had the ability to toggle it off. Hell, the majority of these gripes are small but constant annoyances that shouldn't be that hard to fix, unlike most of the base game's problems. I just have no faith that they will fix this stuff, and after this DLC I imagine they'll still be present in the next, if not somehow yet worse after that.
So yeah, sticking to my personal opinion that I regret buying this Expansion Pass, and I wouldn't recommend you to do the same. Yeah, I know Kyle viewed it way more positively if you watched his streams, and I get it and shared some of his feelings early on, but really the end loop of the DLC is just purely too annoying for me to give it a pass. I feel like you're better off just watching someone else play the short story of the DLC unless you really need to hunt those old Pokemon again, are willing to go through absolute hell to add the g-max gene to your bros, or are way into the beforementioned spoilers. Maybe I'll shift my stance after the second DLC, but don't trust that guy. He's totally biased towards snowscapes.
Yoshi Banned last edited by
Yoshi Banned last edited by Yoshi
comes out October 22nd
Man, all Japanese soft pop sounds exactly the same, so it's a good thing I really like Japanese soft pop. Was not expecting to love a pokemon anime music video so much.
Mbun last edited by Mbun
Crown Tundra has been out for some hours now. I'm not very far at all yet, just the first town, but figured I'd pop in for a PSA that you should definitely not leave the first town until you're sure you've spoken to an Eevee Girl in one of the houses there.
A few hours in to Crown Tundra. Definitely like this one more than the last (which I was a bit softer on at first than everyone else). There's a much stronger emphasis on exploration and interacting with the world in unique ways with real, tangible rewards. Granted, all of this is still fairly basic, but I definitely appreciate how some of the legendaries are being incorporated into the world here. I say "some" because many are found exclusively through the max raid dens (or whatever they're called), which I actively dislike. I may be in the minority here, but I hate max raid battles. They're easily my least favorite generational gimmick that the series has introduced thus far (although megas and z moves are also pretty dumb, imo), so being forced to encounter legendaries through this system really bums me out. That said, this DLC does make me more optimistic for the future of the series; the devs look like they're learning how to make the environmental "puzzles" that were present in gen 1-5 in a 3D environment, and I think the korok seed elements promote more thoughtful player interaction with the world. I think everything could be improved, and their world design in general needs a pretty major overhaul, but so far I'm liking what I'm seeing.
Honestly, the Dynamax Adventures in the new DLC are way better than Max Raid Battles for a couple reasons, but most importantly because they got rid of SHIELDS on opponents, so they're no longer immune to basically everything except direct damage. You can actually strategize against them! Furthermore, since the new system uses Rental Pokemon, and you're basically fighting through a 5-battle gauntlet while retaining damage you take and number of team faints, with you having the option to swap your Pokemon between rounds to the one you just beat if yours is about to faint or the new one is just better for what's ahead, well turns out it gets very strategic and stays interesting with decent stakes throughout each run. Mercifully, even if you fail a run, the game recognizes this and offers to jot down the location of the Pokemon Den you failed so you can reattempt for the same Legendary until you have a good run. Also, since you're matching up for like 5 battles in a row, and everyone is being thrown into the same Dynamax Adventure matchmaking for the most part, you're way more likely to actually get matched with a full team of other real players, and in my experience so far, once you're matched together, everything has been nice and stable. Haven't seen people disconnecting midway through, and I haven't had it error out during yet either.
Dynamax still isn't my favorite gimmick either, but I do think Dynamax Adventures fixed the concept of it, which makes me sad they didn't update the Max Raid Battles outside this new feature. There's still tons of old beacons and even new ones everywhere in the Crown Tundra that use the old inferior Max Raid Battle system.
As for the rest of the DLC, still working my way through it, but I get now why they didn't show much ahead of time, and I think it was the right decision for the players, although maybe not the right marketing decision, but who cares when everyone has already bought the Expansion Pass? I don't really know what you mean by environmental puzzles yet, unless you just mean the Regi doors, which are kind of nothing new, but maybe there's more I haven't gotten to yet? Agree the world design still isn't quite there, but the verticality of some of the locations in this new DLC lead to some satisfying exploration, and in general the whole new area feels more like a real place that could exist than the Isle of Armor did.
My biggest problem with it all though, is the complete lack of Trainer Fights breaking up progression as hurdles leads to a feeling of everything being exceedingly empty, and even though it is fun climbing up a mountain, you feel much less accomplished than you would have if you had battled your way up the mountain instead. Beyond that, the major story of the new DLC not actually changing the world between where it starts and where it ends except for one line of NPC dialogue is a major disappointment, especially when some areas seem easy enough to change up afterwards. Lastly, ever since they introduced TRs, they act like finding a TR in the wild is as exciting as finding a new TM, and it simply is not, especially because they're TRs you likely already have tons of from raiding through previous content. If they were new TRs that were harder to get, that'd at least be something, but I'd honestly rather find anything else as an overworld reward. Found some Mints around, and considering how much of a pain it is to grind 50 BP for those, then I'd be very happy to be receiving more of those instead, that or Ability Capsules or the new Ability Patch for a really well hidden one. At least those last two things you can now earn through a shop you can spend Dynamax Adventure rewards on.
environmental puzzles yet, unless you just mean the Regi doors,
I have a low barrier for "oh hey, you're back on the right track!" I guess because that is literally exactly what I was talking about, lol. I guess less environmental puzzles (which would be more akin to the old Strength boulder puzzles) and more just interacting with the game world in ways that they've largely abandoned for the past ~8 years.
And I agree that the Dynamax adventures are an improvement! I just don't like them. Personal taste thing, but they don't capture what I like about this series, and feel more like an annoyance than anything else.