A leaker has claimed that Pokémon Legends: Arceus will lack several mechanics previously featured in past Pokémon games, including held items, breeding, and abilities. 

Source: Pokémon Legends: Arceus (2022), The Pokémon Company, Nintendo

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In spite of the franchise making over $100 billion in life-time sales across various mediums and merchandise and becoming the most valuable media franchise, recent years have seen have seen fans rumbling with discontent towards mainline Pokémon games.

Ever since the series made the leap to 3D, some fans have accused the games of dumbing themselves down and cutting corners. This came to a head with Pokémon Sword and Shield, as Game Freak confirmed that only Pokémon native to those games could be used, with species from older games could not be transferred across.

Source: Pokémon Legends: Arceus (2022), The Pokémon Company, Nintendo

Nintendo claimed this reduction was done not only because the sheer number of Pokémon was causing problems with balancing, but also to allow them the time to ensure the game would feature high-quality animations.

However, after initial footage showed poor texture quality trees and the same low-quality animations as prior games, some even reused, fans rioted [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].

The resulting “Bring Back the National Dex” movement raged on social media for several months, and was only fueled when the game’s release saw little improvement to the graphics and Nintendo announced a subsequent expansion pass, which added new areas and brought back old Pokémon, for $29.99 USD.

Source: Pokémon Legends: Arceus (2022), The Pokémon Company, Nintendo

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In addition, Pokémon Home, was announced a month after the initial news of SWSH’s Pokémon reduction broke. A cloud-based Pokémon storage app, the service’s premium features, such as larger storage reserves and online trading, were revealed to cost a baffling $15.99 a year – over triple the $4.99 price tag of its previous iteration, Pokémon Bank.

Things only grew more hostile when, asked by Axios about the “angrier feedback” they had received over their pricing decisions, The PokémonCompany’s Director of Consumer Marketing J.C. Smith essentially wrote off complaints by asserting, “We have a group of creators and professionals working at the Pokémon Company that have been through a lot — seen, heard [a lot]. They have thicker skin than many people do because they’ve heard it.”

Source: Pokémon Legends: Arceus (2022), The Pokémon Company, Nintendo

Yet, Pokémon Legends: Arceus has sparked hope even among these jaded fans. Trailers seemed to show an “open world,” better quality animations in battle, and even more natural animations like Pokémon actually turning around rather than just rotating on the spot. 

As expected for a hotly anticipated games, leakers have been out in force to find out more about the game, undeterred by news of defendants who leaked images from Sword and Shield’s official strategy guide settling to pay $150,000 each in damages and attorneys’ fees – though they have taken to communicating details through the use of cryptic clues.

Source: Pokémon Legends: Arceus (2022), The Pokémon Company, Nintendo

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Unfortunately, according to leaker Riddler_Khu (via Game Rant) – their tweets now protected – the game will apparently drop the mechanics of held items, abilities, and breeding.

The games are set in the ancient past of the Sinnoh region, most recently seen in its current-day form in the Generation 4 remakes Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. Then known as Hisui, the concept of taming Pokémon is relatively new, with very few humans even attempting to capture them.

As such, at least aesthetically and in terms of lore, teaching a Pokémon to hold an item or breed them in captivity could be seen as far off concepts during this point in Sinnoh’s history.

Source: Pokémon Legends: Arceus (2022), The Pokémon Company, Nintendo

That said, in terms of pure gameplay, it can be seen as a step backwards. Held items usually gave Pokémon a passive effect in battle or, triggered under certain conditions, offered them a variety of healing properties.

Abilities likewise provided an extra wrinkle to consider in battles, with each Pokémon’s passive or trigger-able ability needing to be taken into consideration when planning one’s next move. 

Source: Pokémon Legends: Arceus (2022), The Pokémon Company, Nintendo

Further, breeding wasn’t just a way to get your hands on baby forms of Pokémon, as it was not only a way for certain species to learn moves they normally couldn’t , but was also used to confer specific stat-related genes – “Individual Values” as dubbed by fans – that were highly sought after by high-level players..

Source: Pokémon Legends: Arceus (2022), The Pokémon Company, Nintendo

Riddler_Khu also reportedly claimed that, in a system akin to the Pokémon: Let’s Go games, stats will only be able to be raised by feeding Pokémon special candies.

In the Gen 1 remakes, a candy raises a single stat of a given Pokémon (or “Effort Values”), while special species-specific candies raise all of them. Likewise, those games also lacked breeding and abilities, serving as a bridge between the mainline games and the popular AR mobile game, Pokémon Go.

Source: Pokémon Legends: Arceus (2022), The Pokémon Company, Nintendo

It had previously been stated that though Pokémon Legends: Arceus would have no official competitive battle tournaments or ranked online battles, it would feature the addition of “styles”, a mechanic that allows for various strategic alterations to a Pokémon’s battle style – such as allowing faster Pokémon to act multiple times in a row or moves to be executed with more or less power in exchange for less or more actions per turn.

Source: Pokémon Legends: Arceus (2022), The Pokémon Company, Nintendo

The “open world” was also later revealed to be segmented, with The Pokémon Company writing on the game’s official website, “After receiving an assignment or a request and preparing for your next excursion, you’ll set out from the village to study one of the various areas of the Hisui region. After you finish your survey work, you’ll return once more to prepare for your next task.”

Nonetheless, fans generally seem optimistic about a shake-up to the gameplay formula and better quality animations.

Source: Pokémon Legends: Arceus (2022), The Pokémon Company, Nintendo

There’s also no guarantee the above rumors will come to pass either.

After all, some Pokémon already confirmed for the game include those who typically evolve by holding special items under the right conditions, such as Electivire – though, admittedly, it’s possible such species will either evolve in a new way or have their evolved forms left to only be obtained in the wild.

Source: Pokémon Legends: Arceus (2022), The Pokémon Company, Nintendo

Despite the instance this is a spin-off title, will elements from Pokémon Legends: Arceus become a mainstay to the mainline games? Or does the behemoth’s demands for no brakes means future major titles will continue to be doomed to scramble, be lackluster, and yet still sell millions? Let us know what you think on social media, and in the comments below!

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