Pokemon: The Isle of Armor Expansion Review

Pokémon has released its first DLC for a main title game on the Nintendo Switch being The Isle of Armor expansion for Pokémon Sword and Shield. With the announcement coming several months ago, I wrote a post about how it can be good and bad to have DLC’s for these games. I wasn’t entirely on board, but also suggested some advantages they could have and different ideas for where they could go with it, but overall I was skeptical going in. It wasn’t until a few weeks before its release that I was reminded that it was coming out so soon and began to get excited again. The last few months leading up to this expansion, I actually hadn’t been playing that much having mostly found myself being a bit bored.

The few days before the release renewed my excitement and I began playing again. It was the anticipation of having an expanded world in the game that got me so excited into playing again. I really didn’t read that much into the expansion before release and really only knew about the addition of Kubfu the new legendary Pokémon that was to be gifted to you with two different Gigantamax forms. I was super excited to get my hands on this new Pokémon not only because it was a new legendary but I love the design of both.

The expansion came and I began playing. The first thing I noticed was how simple it was to get to the Isle of Armor. You update the game after buying the expansion of course and then as soon as the game boots up it informs you of the update and lets you know to go to the rail station to travel to the new Isle. After arriving, travel becomes easier as you are able to simply fly to and from the rest of the Galar region and the Isle of Armor. They could have easily gone the more complicated and senseless route of making all of this more complicated but thankfully they didn’t and I appreciate that a lot. It’s just easily accessible as long as you have the expansion.

The word “expansion” is interesting because it can mean just about anything. It’s not specific to like adding new Pokémon or actually adding story or even specifically a post-game story like we typically have for many of the main series games. It seemed that going the route of DLC’s rather than releasing a sequel like Black 2/White 2 or Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon meant that maybe we would just expansions that did give us more story and more game to actually play. That was my biggest worry because I wanted something that was going to make me stay invested into the game that I had grown somewhat bored of.

Thankfully there is a story in the Isle of Armor, albeit not one that take entirely long to play through but at least it wasn’t just a new place to find newly added Pokémon. It actually made you work for that new Pokémon Kubfu which on one hand I just wanted them to give it to me because I was so excited to train it while on the other hand I felt like it was smart to actually make you work for it, so I count that as a win. The story doesn’t take entirely long as you have to complete different trials by Master Mustard (weird name) and then eventually you get a Kubfu. After that you have to train it and gain a friendship with it until Mustard says you’re good to go and then you get to pick one of the towers to train in.

I feel like this decision was one of the better decisions that they made because rather than forcing you to only be able to evolve it into a game specific form, you actually get to choose which one you want with it be the Fighting/Dark or Fighting/Water typing. I feel like this is a unique decision that could be more interesting to play around with in future games. I understand the advantage profit wise of wanting to have two different games for each of the box cover legendries but it would also be cool to see them allow you to choose which one you want while also giving up the other. It just poses some interesting questions as to where you could actually take that concept in the future and it could have some implications of what to expect in the next expansion The Crown Tundra. We know that there are two new “Regi” forms that could also serve as a means to allow you to choose one and give up the other or it may be that you actually get both, so we’ll see which is the case in a few weeks.

Before you can actually go into the tower though, there is a suggestion that your Kubfu be at least Lv. 70 before entering. I’m not sure if it prevents you from going in if you’re under that level because I trained mine to about 73 before I tried to enter, but even still it sets it up as being  difficult challenge especially since you don’t get to take any other Pokémon with you. Now training of course carries over from the rest of the game where you can train normal or just use the candies that you get from raid battles to just level it up quick. The candies are the quick and not as fun way of leveling up so I suggest the grinding way just to go back to the old days when you had to do that. It does however bring up the issue I have of the NPC’s on the Isle.

Despite everything this expansion does have, the one thing it doesn’t have is actual trainers to battle outside of Mustard and Klara/Avery. I feel like this is a missed opportunity to give us a chance to go back to the old ways of grinding to level up by going through various trainers. I also wish that in the expansion there was some sort of inclusion of re-battling trainers. It could have been the perfect place for us to have a spot to continuously battle trainers to train rather than the easy way out of just using the Exp candies. With the theme being a dojo it just seemed like it was a missed opportunity to do this.

That does bring me to the theme of this expansion being the dojo and the inclusion of the new outfit which I personally really like and continue to use now. I wish there was more customization to the outfit, but either way I really like it. The theme doesn’t reach much further after you get through the story part as it resorts back to just being a new “Wild Area”. This is what I mean by missed opportunity though. If their intention is to put a lot of focus on these game and expanding upon them then they should have put more effort into really making this unique to the dojo/ martial arts theme. As in, they should have made it the ultimate training spot, not just full of new Pokémon and Raids, but also plenty of NPC trainers for you to continuously battle to level up your Pokémon.

It even would have been awesome to see some cameos from some past trainers known for martial arts that are visiting to train their Pokémon like Chuck, Bruno, and many others. Rather than having that inclusion, we have a new form of battling being the type restricted battling at the dojo. While it is cool and does pose a challenge, it does bring me back to the worst part about the Battle Tower or other things that follow that model being that you don’t actually get experience for your Pokémon which ultimately sucks. To me, it’s about training your Pokémon and I feel like outside of the raid battles and the raid candies, they don’t give us enough to actually do that which sucks. I want strong trainers in-game that are difficult to battle and that will give us experience for our Pokémon.

Once you defeat Mustard and evolve your Kubfu into Urshifu then you get another side mission of finding a specific item that will be used to allow your Urshifu to Gigantamax. It’s a cool little side final mission that brings you back to Hop, but ultimately doesn’t allow you to actually battle Hop at any point which is a real shame. Another missed opportunity for a great rival throughout the game. You don’t get to spend a whole lot of time with your Urshifu after that point unless you really like it because it’s already almost at level 100. For me, I still use it a lot because I like the Pokémon, but I see others throwing it in the boxes and forgetting about it at this point.

After finishing the final side mission, you have a few other things you can do like upgrading the dojo, finding all of the Alolan Diglett, or exploring the new isle and the added Pokémon. It does bring in question again the issue everyone had with not including the National Dex because while they do bring in various new Pokémon that we all love, it still leaves much to be desired as far as all of the missing Pokémon. Some of which are being included in the next Expansion, but the others are still out there waiting for inclusion in the new games. I will say though that I like the Isle of Armor more than the Wild Area due to the uniqueness of the design and how fun it is to just explore the island. I also enjoy how open world it seems like being able to go out to the ocean and explore smaller islands. The biggest surprise for me was when I first showed up and there was just a giant Wailord in the ocean which was a pretty sweet visual that I think they intended on doing to make some sort of statement.

Ultimately, after playing through the expansion and logging several hours, I have come to the conclusion that yes the Isle of Armor is worth it to buy for the expansion itself, the new Pokémon and the effect of making you go back to the game, however there is still much to be desired. A lot can be made up in the next expansion, The Crown Tundra, but as of right now I think that Game Freak needs to focus more on giving players a reason to stick with it rather than just capturing players for a few days or weeks. The expansion offers a lot for someone to come back to, but doesn’t give you much reason to continue after you complete the “story”. We do get some new Gigantamax forms for Venusaur, Blastoise, and the other Galarian starters, but even that isn’t enough to save this from being something that I will soon forget about and become bored of until the next expansion.

Pokémon needs to focus on expanding the games to a point where there is so much to do in these games that it gives players plenty of reason to not grow bored after defeating the main story. The DLC’s are indeed an opportunity for them to keep players engaged and sticking around, but more can be done to make it successful. At this point I feel like people are very much engaged, but with the relatively short amount of time between the expansions I think they will be fine in keeping people invested, but it will be after the next expansion where I start to get worried about the interest staying high. I am excited for The Crown Tundra, but for now if you have played through The Isle of Armor than let me know what you think and if not then definitely give it a shot to see if you like it.

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Pokémon DLCs are great but leave a bad taste

A new Pokémon Direct aired this morning revealing not only a new Mystery Dungeon title but also two DLC packs for their new releases Sword and Shield. This was always something that seemed likely to happen given the lack of a full Pokédex and overall feeling of a glass half full kind of game. I wasn’t expecting the announcement however or what exactly would be coming with the first DLCs but we now have that information. 

I always assumed that they would use DLCs to bring in new Gigantamax forms by introducing them in raid battles and possibly some unavailable Pokémon from previous generations. It appears that they went through with that and then some by also announcing more Galarian forms, new characters, and some entirely new Pokémon. 

Breaking down the Gigantamax forms is relays enough with most of them being expected. We will be getting new forms for Venusaur, Blastoise, and for each of the new starter Pokémon. On top of that we’ll be getting two different forms for the new Pokémon Urshifu. Now we don’t have official artwork yet but we do have some screenshots to go off of. It looks to me like the new Urshifu has the coolest looking forms with the rest being somewhat bland or almost a ripoff of forms we’ve seen before. The most noticeable one being Blastoise who looks almost exactly like the Drednaw Gigantamax form. Overall I’d say I was a little disappointed overall and I was expecting to see something that just looked more appealing and cooler. Regardless it’s nice to see that we are and will be getting more content and more forms for other Pokémon in the future. 

The Galarian forms are the real highlight for me with some big surprises. Slowpoke doesn’t seem to be too different aside from some slight color change but Slowking who we don’t get a great look at, does appear to have a significant shane in appearance. The real highlight though is that we’ll be getting Galarian Forms of Moltres, Zappos, and Articuno. All three look amazing with Articuno maybe being my favorite by design. 

Finally we were introduced to a few new Pokemon, Kubfu who evolves into Urshifu and Calyrex along with two new Regi Pokémon who were unnamed. I don’t care for the look of Calyrex all that much but I am excited for Kubfu and his evolution and the new Regis. I was surprised by the Regis the most but regardless I’m just excited for the addition of new Pokémon. 

With that being all of the new Pokémon information released, it was the overall DLC content that had me the most excited. They could have easily just dropped the new Pokémon in locations we already have but instead they’re introducing new locations and what appears to be two new stories. One for each of the two DLCs. It makes it a better investment for anyone looking for more out of their game and quests to complete. 

It isn’t clear whether there are version exclusives but it seems safe to assume that there likely will be. Surprisingly I’m most excited for the inclusion of some older Pokémon that weren’t previously available, most notably the Gible line, but of course there’s going to be something for everyone and is an exciting step for where this series could go. There is a downside though. 

The worst part about this announcement is that we’re having to pay for more content. I’m not against DLCs because they’re so common now fit most games, but in general I’m not a fan of companies doing it. It’s a way to keep the games fresh by introducing new content, but more a way for them to get more money out of the fans. Pokémon has never gone this route with their core games and there was a lot of controversy with what was left out when Sword and Shield were first released. We can speculate whether or not they were capable of including more Pokémon or having a better post game story, but honestly it appears that they may have intentionally left content out for the DLCs and to make more money. 

I have a problem with this because it’s not how they’ve always done things and is kind of a right hook to the fans. For example, if the national dex wasn’t always included in most of the games then it would make more sense, but since we have had the ability to catch all of the Pokémon in almost all of the games, it seems more like a disservice to make us have to pay for DLCs to get them. I might be looking into it too much and maybe there were other reasons for doing this, but on the surface I don’t like the approach they’re taking.

Despite my feelings about not liking their approach, I am very much excited for the new DLCs and will likely end up getting both of them. It really is an opportunity to keep the games fresh and to keep players coming back to it. They didn’t take a lazy approach of only giving us Pokémon but rather including new side stories to complete. Overall I’m very excited for the release of the expansions and hopefully they live up to what appears to be an exciting new future for their games.

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Pokémon Mystery Dungeon RETURNS!?

Watch the trailer: https://youtu.be/2R_1HEbxYhA

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon is coming to Switch!

The announcement came in the Nintendo Direct on January 9th. It is a remake of the first series of games Red Rescue and Blue Rescue team. The game is called: Rescue Team DX!

Based on the trailer, it is a full HD remake of the game. The art and background design looks stellar. It uses great looking 3D models for each of the characters. The backgrounds have an amazing water color look. It makes that whole world pop. The story and game play seems to take pretty much wholesale from the older games. The tweaks come in with more cutscenes to build the game up, and dynamic battles.

This was a really great surprise to get at the beginning of the year. It feels very fresh and like they want to mix it up while keeping true to those first games. That includes keeping only generation 3 and below Pokémon available.

More updates to come if there is a big enough announcement.

Early reaction is that this will be played and definitely reviewed after release on March 6!

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