My bags are packed and I’m ready for a new adventure. After a lengthy approval process, I’ve finally got my Isle of Armor pass and the train is here. Wait, how am I going to take a train to an island? A Corviknight winked at me. That was all I needed to see.
After meeting a strange man with pokeballs floating around his head, I was on my own with a new wild area at my fingertips. I was surrounded by ocean, caves, paths, forests and smaller islands. Which way to go first? I could find something new no matter what I did. What a thrill to have so many exciting paths. I can already see some Pokemon walking about who weren’t on the mainland. Amazing. This wild area immediately feels more complex and interesting than I could have imagined.
Hmmm, left or right? Hello there little Chewtle. Yes I’m lost, but I’ve never felt better. Getting lost in Pokemon is a magical feeling. It’s like I’m a young trainer again with infinite possibilities. I could go out and follow the river, or loop around this cave and explore the depths. I could try and catch every Pokemon I saw, or just observe. I had no idea where I would wind up and that was exciting, but a little scary. I roamed a bit further and night was falling… I had better get back to the house. There was a family waiting to meet me and I’d completely forgotten they existed.
That’s right, there’s a story. The new characters are quite quirky and interesting, and they give you a couple of quests to complete that are a bit outside the norm. Instead of a gym challenge or battle structure, there’s a bigger emphasis on exploring and chasing wild Pokemon. The new characters are accompanied with brand new music that match their style, but I was disappointed to find that the raid and wild battle music is still the same. Not that it’s bad, but that would have been a good chance to mix it up and make this feel drastically different. They missed an easy win there. After 5 battles this generic battle theme gets old and tiring, let alone 500. Do they actually play the game they make? The online interface is still exactly the same with no improvements too. Raids are difficult to join and trainers still appear to teleport between dimensions when they pop in and disappear at their leisure.
If you’re here for battling, then things can get a bit awkward. If you’ve played tons of the main game like me, then you’re definitely going to be over-prepared facing level 60 unevolved Pokemon in this story. I was completely destroying everything with my level 100 team and decided to force a challenge by boxing my really good ones. There are plenty of new local Pokemon you can catch and train just for this purpose. At this point difficulty is trivial if you have mountains of XP candy anyway, so you just gotta make the most of all the options you have. I wasn’t bothered by the challenge but can see how people would be, with no scaling option.
I’m having lots of fun filling up the Pokedex again, with a brand new Armor Dex that mostly consists of returning Pokemon from previous games, and a couple of brand new ones. It’s just nice to have more things to catch. Yes, there was something good about not cramming 900 Pokemon into the one area, and I’m glad they did it this way. Brand new wild areas are the perfect way to introduce more Pokemon. Oh, speaking of discovery… what’s this poking out of the ground? *yoink*
Hi Diglett! There are 150 of these little trouble makers all around the island to find. It’s a nice little sidequest to do while filling out the Pokedex and looking for items, and you get some nice rewards depending on how many you find. They feel kinda like the Koroks in Breath of the Wild, hard to see from a distance but you’ll get rewarded for looking around slowly and taking in the sights. Or in some cases, a group of ghost trainers crowding around a corner will give it away.
I’m not really into competitive battling so I can’t comment on the meta or what’s changed in that regard. There’s a useful new item that allows you to switch between Dynamax and Gigantamax forms of Pokemon. Yep, they added this after we tracked down and caught both forms anyway. Still nice though and there’s quite a few new Gmax forms in this DLC, as well as new Pokemon moves.
Overall I’m enjoying the Isle of Armor and I recommend picking this up if the Wild Areas were your favourite part of the game. The scale of this DLC isn’t super ambitious, but it adds quite a bit of meaty content with more Pokemon, items, characters and story. If you’re JUST buying it for the story though you might be disappointed, it’s quite amusing and wholesome but short and somewhat directionless. The spelling of Armor proves they don’t give a shit about consistency. I’ve purposefully not mentioned any of the new Pokemon in this writeup so you can be surprised, and the content will be slightly different depending on whether you have Shield or Sword. All my impressions are based on Shield version. That’s all I have to say on the Isle of Armor at the moment, but there’s one more event I’d like to talk about.
Looks like a storm is coming, Bolty. Nintendo has given us a challenge to defeat one million Zeraora in order to obtain one for ourselves. We’ve defeated 272,355 as of this tweet on June 20, and it lasts until the 28th. Plenty of time to go, but it’s going to be tight on this trajectory. Zeraora is a legendary Electric Pokemon so bring your best ground game, and be careful of its fighting moves. As much as you might love your Charizard, please look after it and don’t bring it here to get shocked to death in one hit. If we work together we can make this happen! I’ll see you around somewhere on the Isle of Armor. I’ll be that trainer in a corner looking really closely at a rock that definitely isn’t a Diglett, but I want to believe in something.
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