What Pokémon Legends: Arceus Means For Gen 9
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Pokémon Legends: Arceus looks to shake up the traditional formula with its gameplay and content, but what does that mean for future Pokémon games?
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Releasing almost 26 years after the first game, Pokémon Legends: Arceus is poised to switch up the Pokémon formula, impacting the ninth generation of games and beyond. The upcoming game already departs from the typical linear path of Pokémon games, providing a more explorative experience in the Hisuian region, AKA Sinnoh of the distant past. Other major changes being introduced in the game include the ability for Pokémon to injure trainers and the choice of three starters hailing from different generations of Pokémon.
While no Pokémon game has been announced past Pokémon Legends: Arceus, the franchise will surely have more entries due to its massive popularity. The mechanics and style of the upcoming game could be The Pokémon Company and Game Freak’s way of testing new ideas for the future of the franchise. Despite leaks claiming Legends: Arceus plays like Pokémon: Let’s Go, the forthcoming entry has already introduced new ideas for how Pokémon may play going forward.
The vastly different nature of Pokémon Legends: Arceus may provide a blueprint for future games set in new regions, specifically the already anticipated Generation 9 games. With the released information confirming it will be vastly different from other entries, coupled with the setting of an already familiar region (albeit in the past), the game’s changes will shake up the Pokémon franchise. As fan excitement for the game is growing with each new piece of information revealed, Pokémon may begin to look a lot different after Pokémon Legends: Arceus.
New Pokémon In Legends: Arceus Could Be Gen 9
Pokémon Legends: Arceus’ new Pokémon, including Kleavor, and Hisuian variants could signal that the game itself will be considered the start of the ninth generation of the series. Each generation of the franchise has generally been marked with games that introduce new Pokémon and a new region. While the Hisui region is technically a historical version of Sinnoh, the different name and aesthetic could be enough to consider them separate regions.
Starting with the seventh generation of Pokémon, regional variants began to be introduced. Pokémon Sun and Moon not only ushered in the new generation, but a bountiful supply of new Pokémon and regional variants to catch in the new region. The remake titles of the generation, Pokémon: Let’s Go, were set in a very familiar region to players and didn’t introduce any new Pokémon (except for Meltan, who was used to showcase connectivity with Pokémon Go).
Counting the Isle of Armor and Crown Tundra DLC for Pokémon Sword and Shield, the first games of the eighth generation expanded the roster of Pokémon, regional variants, and locations in the series. The same generation’s remakes, Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, stayed mostly true to the fourth generation originals.
As Pokémon Legends: Arceus is confirmed to have brand new Pokémon and Hisuian variants, the game will feature the most significant marker of a new generation. While one could argue that the Hisui region is the same as Sinnoh, it’s clear that much has changed in the region throughout time, giving Hisui a distinctly different feel than Sinnoh. The game having new Pokémon, regional variants, and new locations could position the title to technically exist in Generation 9.
Legends: Arceus Could Change Pokémon’s Generations
Rather than serving as the start of a new generation, Pokémon Legends: Arceus could herald in a new era of Pokémon, one without generations. The Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl fairy type inclusion already blurs the lines of generational differences in the franchise. Players first adventures in the Sinnoh region happened two whole generations before fairy types were added. However, the recent remakes decided to deviate slightly from their originals by including the newest type, creating questions about which generation of Pokémon the remakes should truly be considered a part of. As the Generation 4 remakes now have a Generation 6 addition, and the fact that Pokémon Legends: Arceus will introduce new Pokémon despite taking place in an earlier version of the same region, the upcoming game could remove the typical generational structure of the franchise.
Games nowadays are being played for longer periods of time with continued support from developers. Originally released in 2018, Smash Bros. Ultimate’s final balance patch just launched in late 2021. If Pokémon Legends: Arceus did usher in a generation-less Pokémon, The Pokémon Company and Game Freak could introduce periodic updates to a released game to further its lifespan, instead of needing to rely on developing new games in a new generation of the franchise. Creating a Pokémon game that receives a steady stream of updates would also focus on the series on only needing one entry per Nintendo console, similar to the Smash Bros. games.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus Could Lead To An Open World Game
Based on the trailers and information from the developers, the game may standardize a heavier emphasis on exploration in Pokémon games. Previous Pokémon regions were certainly vast, but players were generally limited as to how they could progress through the games. Even though Pokémon Legends: Arceus won’t be open world, the released gameplay showcased more freedom of movement, akin to the Wild Area of Pokémon Sword and Shield, compared to other franchise entries. If the current overwhelming positive fan reaction to the game translates into massive success, future Pokémon games may continue to open up the world for more freedom.
While the upcoming game will allow players to enjoy more expansive lands than other Pokémon entries, the standard formula of guided play may not disappear. More freedom of movement could manifest in new Pokémon games, while remakes and spin-offs may retain the stricter progression seen in previous entries. Initial fan excitement that Pokémon: Legends Arceus would be an open world game signals that many players want the franchise to move in that direction, but The Pokémon Company probably would stay faithful during remakes, as evidenced by Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl.
Released and rumored franchise changes, including Hisuian starter evolutions in Pokémon Legends: Arceus, signals the brand could be moving in a new direction. While no Pokémon games have been announced to come after the upcoming title, the series’ future may be plotted based on Pokémon Legends: Arceus and its performance. Information regarding how the Pokémon games will look going forward is sure to be far out, considering Pokémon Legends: Arceus releases on January 28, 2022 and The Pokémon Company and Game Freak likely hoping for the title to have a long shelf life.