The gossip is finally over, Gamefreak continues the “Sword” & “Shield” journey
Going into 2020, I was really hoping that there wouldn’t be a new Pokemon game coming out in the main series. This isn’t because I wouldn’t like any game that would come out; there has just been a new mainline Pokemon every year ever since “Pokemon Sun” and “Pokemon Moon” came out in 2016. While I will happily play whatever Gamefreak has in store, after four years of non-stop Pokemon, I understand why people feel fatigued about this series. Many fans were wondering how Gamefreak was going to follow up “Pokemon Sword” and “Pokemon Shield” and if it would be out this year. Was it going to make a third version for Galar? Was it finally going to make the Sinnoh remakes? Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait even longer for Gamefreak to give the 4th generation some love. Fortunately, we’re also not getting another pointless third version. Instead, Pokemon has done something way smarter by giving “Sword” and “Shield” an expansion pass with “The Isle of Armor” and “The Crown Tundra.”
Before going into the specifics, let me just say this is probably the best move Gamefreak could have done besides just not doing anything (which would be equally as good). Another main line game would have angered the already volatile fanbase as it would have come across as “rushed.” An option add-on to “Sword” and “Shield” gives the people who are justifiably tired of the yearly releases a break if they don’t care for downloadable content (DLC). “Poke-enthusiasts” like me can pay half the price of a third version while enjoying new content without having to play through the entire campaign all over again. DLC is just a more convenient and modern practice for the average consumer while also making practical business sense. In this case, it’s a much preferable option compared to making a third version of “Sword” and “Shield” that would be more of the same thing. As long as the expansion pass is filled with the right amount of satisfactory content, I think it should succeed in continuing the momentum of the series without burning it out.
This brings me to talk about the many reasons why I’m excited about what the DLC is bringing us. First off, the two new open areas to explore both look extremely promising. Although we currently don’t know too much about each area, the concepts seem promising. The Isle of Armor looks to be a nice tropical area while the Crown Tundra is a mysterious frozen landscape. Both areas will apparently have different focuses with the Island of Armor being focused on growth and the Crown Tundra being focused on exploration. Each area will also feature it’s own story that will hopefully add on more complexity and development to the lore of the Galar region. Even if I don’t know what exactly each area will bring to “Sword” and “Shield,” I’m optimistic that they will bring something fun and memorable.
Another thing to be excited for is the new Pokemon that will be added in the expansion pass. Both Urshifu and Calyrex, the main legendaries of each part, both look weird yet interesting, and I’m excited to see what they bring to the lore of the Galar region. Meanwhile, Urshifu’s pre-evolution, Kubfu, looks cute enough. I’m also excited to see what’s the deal with what appears to be new Regis. They look pretty interesting, and they could introduce new mind-bending puzzles like the original trio had in “Pokemon Ruby” and “Pokemon Sapphire.” Each of these new Pokemon could add lot to Pokemon’s immense roster or at least be decent and memorable ones in their own right.
The DLC will also feature some new regional variants, one of them being the Galarian Slowpoke. While the Galarian Slowpoke looks pretty underwhelming, I’m interested to see what it’s evolutions will end up looking like. Other regional variants included the original legendary birds: Zapdos, Articuno and Moltres. These beasts look very cool and are huge upgrades to their predecessors. I’m excited to find these things when I play through the DLC, along with any other possible new creature that hasn’t been announced. I hope that Gamefreak will add more regional variants and new Pokemon on top of what’s already been revealed, but I can’t complain with what we currently have.
Finally, it’s not just the new Pokemon that bring value to the pass, the returning ones are important as well. Gamefreak has promised that more than 200 Pokemon will be returning over the course of each DLC. The good news for people who are not interested in the expansion pass is that each returning Pokemon can be transferred or traded once they become available with no purchase necessary. The games will also have a new co-op mode where players can catch a monstrous amount of returning legendaries in raid battles. While I like the idea of bringing back many legendaries as an incentive to do more raid battles, I do think Gamefreak went overboard in bringing back too many of them. It’s great to see many of these Pokemon again, but the prospect of Pokemon like Landorus dominating the meta-game once again is worrying. I would have liked if they held back on releasing so many overpowered Pokemon, yet this complaint is an admittedly small one. While I’m happy that many people’s favorites are returning, I do feel pity for the competitive scene that will have to deal with some of the more infamous Pokemon once again.
All in all, the expansion pass for “Pokemon Sword” and “Pokemon Shield” looks very promising and worth the investment. It only costs $30 for each game, and it offers a ton of new content to digest and new creatures to meet. I do wish that you only had to buy one pass for both versions, as it is a bit expensive buying two passes. However, I feel it’s only necessary to buy a pass for one of the versions since there doesn’t seem to be a humongous difference between the two. In any case, I’m excited in what Pokemon has in store for 2020. Adding DLC to last year’s games makes said games more lasting while also giving the developers and players a slight break. It’s the best option for the series as a whole, as it brings modernity and stability to a series that is trying to reconcile constant content with quality products. Despite what many in the community feel, I’m optimistic about the future of this historic franchise, and the DLC actually lessens any worries I may have with it.
~Elijah Basu, Staff Writer~