The Crown Tundra – Lost in the Land of Snom

We’re almost there Bolty, there’s gotta be a town nearby… it says right here on the map “Freezington”. Or was it just freezing a ton? This map is a bit worn… and not even filled in properly. That tree looks a bit like a rude object. The person at the train station said it wasn’t far though. It’s getting colder but when we find shelter I’ll make you some nice soup, Bolty. Oops, bumped into a trainer, sorry mate. I swear sometimes it’s like they teleport out of nowhere. Nah, just the thick snow. Can you tell me how to get to Freezington? They didn’t answer but gave me a packet of hot sauce and ran away. Okay, bye. Hmmm, maybe English isn’t the native language? I gave Boltund the sauce and we kept going. We were on our last legs when finally…

We made it! Freezington is the only town in the vast Crown Tundra. It’s a rural village tucked away between thick forests and harsh weather. There’s only a few houses here but it still has a Mayor, I wonder if they even had a vote? There was probably only one person who wanted that job, I bet they declared themselves the Mayor. Hey Bolty, I’m declaring myself the Mayor of Postwick!

With no PokéCenter or PokéMart, people here farm and trade items to look after each other. The crops aren’t growing as well as they used to, but there’s still just enough frozen carrots for everyone. Delicious. If every town was this self-sufficient then maybe we wouldn’t have so much climate and dynamax instability.

It’s easy to get lost in The Crown Tundra. This is mainly because the map is terrible, but the area is also quite massive. It feels immensely bigger than the Isle of Armor, with so many paths and caves to remember, and some harsh weather makes it a struggle to see in the distance. The bad draw-distance only enhances this feeling of adventure. That’s right, bad graphics are a feature here! I genuinely do enjoy exploring in Pokemon and this area is quite exciting as a result.

You never know what you might find in the ruins. An ancient clue, ghost Pokemon, a pokeball, true love, a dead body. The Crown Tundra throws riddles into the gameplay to make you think a bit harder about the story. You can find clues on tablets, doors and stones, and you might have to be holding a certain item or Pokemon to open a door. The story has fixed progression in key moments, but for a large part you can do things in any order and follow your own curiosity.

That reminds me, I need to check my clues again. There was something that looked like this ruin?

Erm nope, I got nothing. If I see a green toy robot trolley lying about, I’ll be sure to examine it though. Our fellow adventurer Peony back in Freezington has done some hard work to provide us technical diagrams and illegible riddles. Better than nothing, right? The best way to get more information is to explore and find it yourself!

This place even sounds cold. Music has always been a creative strength of Pokemon games and for this one, we’ve got some high pitched instruments chiming a peaceful yet chilling melody. You can almost hear the sound of dripping icicles and Christmas chimes in the distance. Oh wait no, it’s just a Cryogonal.

There’s a special cave near Freezington that provides a new co-op challenge. The Max Lair is full of raid battles that have been organised into a little map where people vote on which path to take. You’re given rental Pokemon and everyone has to get to the end to find a rare legendary and defeat it. You don’t get to see what Pokemon you’ll be battling at any point, just the type. This brings an element of strategy because you might want to avoid a bad type matchup with you or your friends Pokemon, but you also want the opportunity to catch a Pokemon that will be strong against the next path or the final type. So when everyone votes to send your Rhydon down the water path… maybe they have a long-term plan. Most likely not.

While the Max Lair offers a nice balanced challenge, the rest of the game suffers from the same problem as the Isle of Armor. If you’ve played the main game then you’ll be massively overpowered. The best solution I can offer is to catch Pokemon from this region and only use those…. and pretend you don’t have 10,000 pieces of EXP candy. The wild Pokemon are level 60 and upwards and can still occasionally put up a fight if you’re trying to catch them. It might just be luck but in general I had to throw a lot more Ultra Balls at these Pokemon. I think they’re just a bit shy because they haven’t seen many humans. Can’t say I blame them. There there, Amaura.

Crown Tundra brings back that feeling from the older games where legendary Pokemon actually felt mysterious and interesting. It does this with a good story, and a cohesive environment molded by history and nature. This allows for non-linear gameplay that lets you find things out of curiosity, rather than following a scripted path. I purposefully left some revealing pics out of this writeup so you can discover cool things yourself. I highly recommend this DLC if you value that feeling of mystery in Pokemon, and want a new interesting place to explore.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off for a swim. The villagers say freezing cold water is good for your health. Hmm… there’s something different about this iceberg.

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