With a release date of 28th January 2022 re-confirmed, Pokémon Legends Arceus finally gave us an in-depth look at its Breath of the Wild inspired gameplay changes as well as a few surprise announcements of some new Pokémon and regional forms.
Although we knew Legends would be set in a past version of the Sinnoh Region, we now also know that originally the land was called the Hisui Region, in a time where it "was rare for humans and Pokémon to live in harmony".
As a member of the Galaxy Expedition Team (...uh-huuuh...), you'll visit Jubilife Village, a bustling settlement in this wild continent that also serves as your on-going base of operations. Upon receiving an assignment, Trainers set out from the village to study one of the various areas of the Region. After finishing their work, trainers return to Jubilife to prepare for their next task.
Outside of Jubilife, however, you'll also be able to visit base camp outposts in other areas of the region. In these camps, as well as starting new missions, you'll also be able to reset up and heal your Pokémon as well as use the camp's workbench to craft new items. This crafting system includes all of your PokéBalls, which you can also use Apricorns you find out in the wild to make special balls such as the Heavy Ball. In Legends Arceus, the Heavy Ball will quite literally be heavy, so won't travel quite so far when you throw it.
In a way of matching up the action game style of Breath of the Wild with Pokémon, you will have to navigate, dodge and roll your way around Wild Pokémon attacking you directly. You can choose to throw an empty PokéBall at them to attempt to capture them, or throw a PokéBall with one of your own team nearby to initiate a battle. If the Wild Pokémon hurts you enough, however, you will black out and be returned back to camp.
While the battle system is mostly familiar - you still have to select your Pokémon attacks from a menu, and can choose to swap them out, use items or run - an Active Time Battle style system tweaks the usually turn-based approach to battles to being significantly more dynamic. You might be able to use several attacks in sequence, or be stuck waiting for your turn while your opponent does the same.
To tie in with this new battle system, you'll be able to optionally choose one of two styles for each of your attacks as you select them: the Strong Style or the Agile Style. Strong Style attacks will be more powerful, but slower - meaning your attacks will slip down the action order. Agile Style, meanwhile, reduces some of the power of your attacks but increase the speed with which you can use them.
Combined with the 'seamless' start to battles where you, your Pokémon and your opponent are simply locked in place where you encountered them in the world until the battle is complete, this should make battles in Legends Arceus significantly faster and more dynamic than we've seen in the series so far.
As you work towards completing the Hisui Region's first Pokédex you'll build up a complex dataset of each Pokémon you encounter. As well as battling and catching the various Pokémon, you'll also have a number of research tasks to complete, such as defeating Shinx with Ground Type attacks a various number of times, or how many times it used Bite against you.
As you complete these research missions you'll also increase in rank as a member of the Galaxy Team.
Ancestors of characters we know from the Sinnoh Region, such as Professor Rowan's ancestor, Galaxy Team boss, Commander Kamado, will also play a part throughout your adventure.
Unexpectedly, Legends Arceus also introduces several new Pokémon and Hisui Regional Forms, including three very important Pokémon that will ultimately help you get around the region.
Wyrdeer is the Hisui Region evolution of Stantler.
This Pokémon has been treasured since long ago by the people of this region, for whom it is indispensable. It grows much larger when it evolves, and garments with the fur shed from its beard, tail, and legs are highly prized for their top-notch protection against the cold.
Using the black orbs at the bases of its antlers, this Pokémon generates and unleashes psychic energy powerful enough to distort space. Wyrdeer searches out safe paths by using its antlers like antennae, running at the head of its herd and leading young Stantler.
Wydeer is a Normal/Psychic Type and also serves as your ride across the Hisui Region.
Basculegion is a Hisui Region evolution of Basculin.
This Evolution occurs when a Basculin is possessed by the souls of other Basculin from its school that could not withstand the harsh journey upstream. Basculegion fights together with these souls, which attack opponents as if with a will of their own.
The moment this Pokémon senses animosity, it will become enraged and attack relentlessly until the enemy is defeated. This Pokémon gains power from the souls possessing it, letting it swim on and on without tiring.
Basculegion is a Water/Ghost type and also serves as your ride in the waters of Hisui.
Hisuian Braviary is a new Psychic/Flying regional form of Braviary.
When Rufflet in the Hisui region evolve, they become Hisuian Braviary. In the winter, this Pokémon flies in from somewhere farther north. It’s larger than the previously discovered form of Braviary and tends to live alone rather than in flocks.
Hisuian Braviary can imbue its eerie screeches with psychic power to generate powerful shock waves. It then uses its sharp talons to tear at and seize prey weakened by these shock waves. Apparently, it can also use its psychic power to sharpen its sixth sense and enter a trance that boosts its physical abilities.
Hisuian Braviary will also help you soar through the skies of the Hisui Region and will likely be invaluable for safely exploring the region's high peaks such as Mt. Coronet.
Hisuian Growlithe is a Fire/Rock regional form of Growlithe.
Its Hisuian form has longer, more voluminous fur than the previously discovered form of Growlithe. This soft, heat-retaining fur helps the Pokémon thrive even in the frigid Hisui region. The sharp horn on its head is made of rock, but it breaks easily, so Hisuian Growlithe uses it only when it’ll have the greatest effect.
Hisuian Growlithe are highly vigilant and tend to be seen watching over their territory in pairs. Apparently, they have lived apart from humans for a long time and are unused to being around people. Building trust with a Hisuian Growlithe takes time.
In the West, both Digital and Physical pre-orders will come with a Hisuian Growlithe Kimono Set. In Japan, certain retailer pre-orders will also come with a Garchomp Kimono Set. The outfits themselves are pretty much identical - although different to the default outfit we see in the rest of the game, suggestion at least some level of customisation - but with different colours and patterns.
Despite not being a traditional style Pokémon game, Legends Arceus will also support Pokémon Home at some point next year, hopefully meaning we'll be able to bring Pokémon like Hisuian Growlithe into Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl or Sword/Shield eventually too...
There are tonnes more visual details you can see for yourself in the trailer below. After a fairly shaky first impression in Februrary, it definitely looks like Legends is shaping up to potentially be the kind of game we've been wanting from Pokémon ever since the first real look at Breath of the Wild years ago... Speaking for ourselves, we can't wait.