(Available for Nintendo Switch only)
(a copy of Pokémon Sword or Shield is required before purchase)
In January Game Freak released a Pokémon only Nintendo Direct which announced both the release of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon DX for Switch but there would also be additional DLC packs in 2 parts named The Isle of Armour and The Crown Tundra. The first expansion is now here with the Crown Tundra currently having a planned release date sometime in the autumn. It was also announced this would replace the usual third edition of a Pokémon Generation, similar to how Gold and Silver lead into Crystal or how Sun and Moon lead into Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. Now I personally was happy with this since it meant I didn’t have to purchase another full priced game to get a few extra’s and this is the sort of thing I’ve wanted the Pokémon games to do for a while but this announcement did not make a lot of people happy. Many people were skipping Sword and Shield and going strait to the potential Sword 2 and shield 2 due to the amount of cut Pokémon and fact it wouldn’t be much longer than previous Pokémon games so in their eyes they were now spending £80 instead of £50. Of course it was blessing for people like me who had bought Sword or Shield when it came out last November since we now didn’t have to spend another £50 but the question is was it worth it. for the record my opinion on Sword and Shield is that I like it, I thought it was a good Pokémon Game, it brought back a few things I like the Gym Leaders, Dynamax was a good feature, a lot of people had a problem with the graphics but I think it suits the world of Pokémon well, the wild area is fantastic new feature and it probably has the best online multiplayer in the franchise (when it works).
I will concede that it’s not a very long campaign, some of the Pokémon that were cut did sting a bit, the wild area is a not quite as big as I was hoping it would be, it drains your battery quite badly in portable mode to such an extent I never play the game portably unless absolutely necessary for games with my friends (though recent playthroughs had much better battery life so it may have been improved in a patch) and the post game content is once again lacking which has been a problem for most of recent generations of Pokémon which I wish they’d fix. The base game would get an 8.5 out of 10 from me. Now Isle of Armour will act more as post game content, it offers a new wild area to explore, many Pokémon from previous generations brought back some with new Galarian forms, a new challenge mode which you can choose between the Tower of Water and the Tower of Darkness which will apply to your new companion Kubfu (a new fighting type Pokémon brought in for this expansion pass), new Dynamax forms for all 3 starter Pokémon in their final stages some new outfits for your trainer and a new campaign. Going back to Sword and Shield was an interesting experience given that I really hadn’t been playing the games all that much in the intervening time period but it wasn’t to difficult to get back into it. the Isle of Armour is basically another Wild Area with a few buildings including a Dojo and 2 towers and involves you doing a few tasks for the Master of the dojo whilst raising new Pokémon Kubfu and taking on the challenge of one of the towers which will effect how Kubfu evolves. That’s a large portion of the expansion and the setting has gone for a setting more closer to various Asian cultures. This is rather interesting given that Galar (the region Sword/Sheild is set in) is meant to be the Pokémon equivalent of Britain and is clearly based on British mythology and locations. The new setting however is a cool environment to explore and I actually liked the new locations and characters to interact with. If you liked a lot of the tasks you’d do in the Wild Area expect to be doing much of the same including many more Max Raid battles. In fact the game even launched with a special event for the max raid battles
- The additional Pokémon: while there’s only 3 new Pokémon outside of Galarian forms in the expansion it’s great to see a lot of the Pokémon back that were cut for the initial game much of which come from the first generation especially having the choice of Bulbasaur or Squirtle who felt like the biggest omissions from the previous game.
- New music: not too many new tracks in the game but they are great espically some of the new battle themes.
- The expansion isn’t required to get new the New Pokémon: while exploring the Isle of Armour does require a purchase of the expansion the Pokemon are not and are programmed into the game with the update. It does require trades with people that have purchased the pack but if you’re saving money and a friend has the expansion you can get a slight start.
- The map is basically another Wild Area: the wild area was one of the best aspects of the base game. having a wide open space with changing weather and loads of roaming Pokémon was a joy even if it was smaller than I expected. This one isn’t much bigger but given that complaint it’s welcome to have another environment like it with all the same features. It also seemed to have few more disguisable landmarks which made exploration fun.
- New Dynamax is really good: I really like the dynmax forms that have come to the game with some of them coming with really excellent attacks and some really cool designs.
- Kubfu: I really like this Pokémon, while his move set isn’t the greatest until he evolves. I adored his personality and his evolved form is really going to make online multiplayer fun. I seriously can’t wait to see how he will be incorporated into the Anime
- It’s not very long: it may be an expansion pass so it doesn’t require too much game time but this is going to be really short, especially if you maxed out all of your Pokémon already. Granted you can extend the run time of expansion filling out the Pokémon for the new Pokedex though that will require friends with the other version of the game and to get either Bulbasaur or Squirtle depending on which one you didn’t choose. In other words don’t go into it expecting a ton of hours added on to your game time
- It’s really easy if you’ve beaten the main game: this only applies to people who have beaten the game but I would’ve liked a bit more of a challenge for the post game similar to that of the Battle Frontier in previous games. The only challenge I had was the battle at the top of the tower and the final battle of the pack.
- It hasn’t added too many quality of life improvements: the extra content really adds more game time to Pokémon Sword and Shield post game which it needed but there’s a bunch of things I wished they would fix. The online multiplayer is great when it works but still has issues getting into events especially max raid battles and the game still has frame rates till has issues with the wild area when playing online. It also seems to really be lacking for content outside of wild Pokémon Battles. There’s a few mini tasks to do that reward exploration like finding 150 Aloha Diglets hiding in on the island but outside of that you are mostly just capturing Pokemon. I counted there’s only 9 trainer battles you participate in on the Isle of Armour. I’m hoping the upcoming Crown Tundra will have more battles to take part in because I felt like I was missing out on one of my favourite parts of the series.
- Kubfu has to be Level 70 for later portions: I hope like me you saved up tons of Large and Extra Large experience candy from the base game because Kubfu starts at Level 10 and unless you raise him to that level before battles you will not stand a chance. I don’t mind this too much but it feels like it’s padding out game time to the unprepared in order to get players to do more Max Raid Battles.
Pokémon Sword/Shield’s first DLC offers a good extra post game you absolutely should get it but it is a short experience and doesn’t provide a lot of challenge outside the final battle. it’s great to have a bunch of the older Pokémon back for the competitive scene and their presence is greatly welcomed. It really gets a pass from me since it does what all good DLC does and adds a little bit more to entice you back to a game you put down and if the online severs improves I will be playing a lot more Sword and Shield in the upcoming months.
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