Pokémon Legends: Arceus — Ultimate guide

Pokemon Legends Arceus Braviary
Pokemon Legends Arceus Braviary (Image credit: The Pokemon Company (screenshot))

Pokémon Legends: Arceus marks a new direction for the Pokémon series. Many people compare this more open-world style to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Critic and user reviews have been very positive overall, making this one of the best RPGs on the Nintendo Switch. Here's everything you need to know about the mould-breaking Pokémon game.

New gameplay aspects

On Jan. 13, The Pokémon Company released a 13-minute trailer that explains several aspects of Pokémon Legends: Arceus. Here's an explanation of everything shown in the trailer:

  • Hisui Region: Mt. Coronet is in the center of the Hisui region and surrounded by locations with distinct terrain, Pokémon, and foliage. This is the area that will later become known as the Sinnoh Region, as seen in Diamond and Pearl.
  • Wild Pokémon: Different Pokémon appear in the overworld depending on the time of day and weather. However, not all Pokémon are the same. Depending on their temperaments, they might be skittish and eager to run or aggressive. If you fail to catch it in your first sneak attempt, you'll need to send your own Pokémon out and fight it. Get its health down and then you can attempt to catch it again.
  • Items and Pokémon catching: Items can make it easier to acquire new Pokémon. For instance, Berries can distract them, which make catching a lot easier.
  • Hisui Region Pokédex: You are a member of the Survey Corps, which means you not only need to capture Pokémon to complete your Pokédex, but you also need to observe Pokémon performing certain moves or doing certain behaviors.
  • Traversing Hisui: In order to easily traverse the land, there are specific Pokémon you can ride in the air, water, or on land. Once you've unlocked them, you simply rotate through the list of special Pokémon and press the + button to change to a different riding Pokémon.
  • Jubilife Village: This is the main hub where you find Galaxy Team headquarters, stores, Pokémon trading posts, and your home. Not to mention, there are members of the Medical Corp, Security Corp, and Survey Corp here.
  • Missions and Requests: Missions are quests that help advance the plot while requests are sidequests given to you by Hisui residents. You'll be rewarded with items for completing them. The kinds of tasks you'll be given might be to see a specific Pokemon, capture a certain number, or find a specific item.
  • Pokémon Battles: These start after you've thrown your own Pokémon out at a Wild Pokémon. If you successfully snuck up to the wild Pokémon and hit them with your Pokemon's Poke Ball, you might even stun them and get an extra turn in before they attack. Battles are turn-based and you can use either Strong Style or Agile Style to attack.
  • Alpha Pokémon: These are larger than the others, have red eyes, and will take more work to take down. You'll need to use more strategies in order to defeat and capture them. However, if you capture them, they will be more powerful on your team.
  • Customization: The clothier at Jubilife Village allows you to purchase clothing so you can customize your avatar. More clothes unlock as you play. The Hairdresser also lets you adjust your hair color and hairstyles.
  • Noble Pokémon: These are special Pokémon in various areas. Something is putting them in a frenzy, but you can't just defeat them, you need to throw balms at them to calm them. Instead of attacking your Pokémon, they will attack you directly, so prepare to throw balms and attack. Once the Noble Pokémon lets down its guard, you can work on battling it with a Pokémon and capturing it.

What is Pokémon Legends: Arceus?

Pokémon Legends: Arceus is a new Pokémon game set in the ancient Sinnoh region. In this era, people from all over the world have settled in Sinnoh to explore this new land. Receiving a partner Pokémon from a professor, you set off to capture every Pokémon and help create Sinnoh's first Pokédex.

This game has more of an open-world style to it that many have compared to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Even the minimalistic piano music feels like it took cues from Link's mold-breaking adventure.

What's new in Pokémon Legends: Arceus?

Pokemon Legends Girl

Pokemon Legends Girl (Image credit: The Pokemon Company)

Almost everything, really. Pokémon Legends: Arceus is a Breath of the Wild-inspired take on the traditional Pokémon formula, but it has plenty of mechanics to make it its own creation. Sinnoh has been transformed into an open world, and you're free to explore the region's untouched mountains, beaches, and forests.

You can hunt for Pokémon much like you did in the Wild area of Pokémon Sword and Shield, but now you can toss a Poké Ball right at the Pokémon and capture them. The movement has been improved, and battles also seem to be tweaked. Now you can engage wild Pokémon alongside your own Pokémon. All these changes have worked together to create a very new experience, making Legends: Arceus one of the best RPGs on the Nintendo Switch.

Who are the starter Pokémon?

Pokemon Legends Starter

Pokemon Legends Starter (Image credit: The Pokemon Company)

Every new region comes with new starter Pokémon. In Pokémon Legends: Arceus, however, you come across some familiar faces. The starters include Rowlet from Generation VII, Cyndaquil from Generation II, and Oshawott from Generation V. The mix of starters were captured and brought to Sinnoh by a traveling professor.

Are there regional variants?

There sure are. Within this Hisui region there are Hisuian variants and evolutions of previously known Pokemon. Here's a small taste of what some of them look like.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Wyrdeer Normal/Psychic. This is a Hisuian region-specific evolution of Stantler.
Basculegion Water/Ghost type. It's an evolution of Basculin only found in the Hisuian region.
Hisuian Braviary Psychic/Flying. A regional variant of Braviary.
Hisuian Growlithe Fire/Rock. This is a regional variant of our favorite fire dog. It's head is made of rock.

Can you ride Pokémon?

Source: The Pokemon Company (screenshot) (Image credit: Source: The Pokemon Company (screenshot))

Yes! Players can fly with the help of Hisuian Braviary, cross water with the help of Basculegion, and simply ride around the overworld on the back of Wyrdeer. To call these Pokémon to you, you'll whip out your trusty Celestica Flute.

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What's the story in Pokémon Legends: Arceus?

Pokemon Legends Bidoof

Pokemon Legends Bidoof (Image credit: The Pokemon Company)

This RPG takes place years in the past, even before the idea of a Pokémon Trainer or Pokémon League even existed. You're tasked with building the region's first Pokédex and uncovering the mystery of Arceus along the way.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus Wardens & noble Pokémon

Source: The Pokemon Company (Image credit: Source: The Pokemon Company)

Instead of running around collecting gym badges, players go to areas where special noble Pokémon reside. There is a dedicated Warden looking after each one by providing food and keeping the area safe. However, noble Pokémon are becoming frenzied for some reason and it will be your job to calm them with balms.

Spoiler: Click the link below to see a noble Pokémon.

Kleavor is a Bug/Rock type. It evolves from Scyther if you give it special minerals.

Source: The Pokemon Company (Image credit: Source: The Pokemon Company)

Basculegion is a Water/Ghost type. It's supposedly "possessed by souls of other Basculin" that died on their way upstream.

Source: The Pokemon Company (screenshot) (Image credit: Source: The Pokemon Company (screenshot))

Wyrdeer is a special Stantler evolution native only to the Hisuian region.

Source: The Pokemon Company (Image credit: Source: The Pokemon Company)

Pokémon Legends: Arceus battle system

Source: The Pokemon Company (Image credit: Source: The Pokemon Company)

Not every Pokémon in Legends: Arceus needs to be battled to catch it. When you approach, some Pokémon will be friendly, others will hide, and others will need to be weakened before you can catch them. Players throw a Poké Ball with one of their Pokémon at a wild creature to start a battle. The battle then begins right there in the overworld without going into a separate battle mode.

The combat order is determined by either Pokémon's stats, including Speed and status conditions. A box displays in the upper right corner, letting you know the order in which Pokémon will be able to attack.

Agile Style and Strong Style

Source: The Pokemon Company (screenshot) (Image credit: Source: The Pokemon Company (screenshot))

As with the core Pokémon games, each Pokémon can remember up to four moves at a time. However, in Legends: Arceus, each of these moves can be performed in one of two styles: Agile Style or Strong style.

  • Strong Style: Increases power but reduces action speed.
  • Agile Style: Increases speed but reduces power.

You'll need to use these styles accordingly to get the upper hand on your opponents. For example, Strong Style is the way to go if you think you can knock out the other Pokémon in one hit. Meanwhile, if you need to sneak in a few more attacks before your opponent can strike, you'll want to use Agile Style.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus character customization and shops

Source: The Pokemon Company (Image credit: Source: The Pokemon Company)

We might be in ancient Sinnoh, but that doesn't mean there aren't any classy clothes or items to deck your character out in. Plus, there are a number of shops in Jubilife Village to help you stand out.

Source: The Pokemon Company

  • Hairdresser and clothier: Change your hairdo and get the perfect clothes to match your style.

Source: The Pokemon Company (Image credit: Source: The Pokemon Company)
  • Photography studio: Grab your favorite Pokémon and say cheese! You get to choose your poses, backgrounds, faces, and more.

Source: The Pokemon Company (Image credit: Source: The Pokemon Company)
  • General store and craftworks: Get all of the items you need for your journey here. If it isn't sold then you might have to make it yourself.

Source: The Pokemon Company (Image credit: Source: The Pokemon Company)
  • Pokémon pastures: There aren't any computers in ancient Sinnoh, so you'll leave all of the Pokémon you've caught that aren't in your party in the pastures. You can visit them at any time and see how they're doing.

What is gameplay like?

Source: The Pokemon Company (Image credit: Source: The Pokemon Company)

Players are out to complete the first-ever Pokédex by working with the Galaxy Expedition Team. You'll be given research tasks, and fulfilling them earns you points. As you earn more points, you'll move up in the rankings and be able to explore new locations.

Whenever you're away from Jubilife Village, you'll be able to stop by Base Camps to rest up, buy supplies, or craft items. Just like Pokémon centers in core Pokémon games, if you faint in battle, you'll wake up at Base camp.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus crafting

Source: The Pokemon Company (Image credit: Source: The Pokemon Company)

You read that right. Crafting is being brought into the mix in Pokémon Legends: Arceus. You can craft different Poké Balls, Smoke Bombs, and other items with the help of materials found in the wild. This also means there are plenty of items to pick up as you wander around ancient Sinnoh. Keep plenty of space available in your storage so you can gather all of the materials you need.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus Arc Phone

Source: The Pokemon Company

You'll receive the Arc Phone near the beginning of your journey (just ignore the fact that it's basically an iPhone in ancient feudal times). This device helps you keep track of missions and requests and also allows you to view a map of the area.

How many Pokémon will be in the game?

Pokemon Legends Battle

Pokemon Legends Battle (Image credit: The Pokemon Company)

There are a grand total of 242 Pokémon in Legends: Arceus. Considering that Game Freak has created nearly 900 all together, this is just a small dip in the barrel. However, the game does a good job of balancing out different types and providing a smattering of characters from different generations.

Are there two versions of the game?

Pokemon Arceus

Pokemon Arceus (Image credit: The Pokemon Company)

Breaking away from Pokémon tradition, there is only be one version of the game. This means that you do not need to trade with someone else in order to complete your Pokédex.

Will there be multiplayer?

Pokemon Legends Village

Pokemon Legends Village (Image credit: The Pokemon Company)

This game breaks away from several Pokémon traditions, however, you can still trade with others who also have their own version of the game. This is done at the in-game trading posts.

When does Pokémon Legends: Arceus release?

Pokemon Legends Open World

Pokemon Legends Open World (Image credit: The Pokemon Company)

Pokémon Legends: Arceus released on Jan. 28, 2022, for the Nintendo Switch and is currently available for purchase.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus preorder bonus

Source: The Pokemon Company

Anyone who preordered Pokémon Legends: Arceus got a free Hisuian Growlithe Kimono Set for their character to wear. Players can redeem these clothes once the game releases by going to the Mystery Gifts menu within the game and selecting Get via the Internet.

Update Jan. 28, 2022: Changed page to an Ultimate guide.

Rebecca Spear
Gaming Editor

Gaming aficionado Rebecca Spear is iMore's dedicated gaming editor with a focus on Nintendo Switch and iOS gaming. You’ll never catch her without her Switch or her iPad Air handy. If you’ve got a question about Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, or just about any other Nintendo series check out her guides to help you out. Rebecca has written thousands of articles in the last six years including hundreds of extensive gaming guides, previews, and reviews for both Switch and Apple Arcade. She also loves checking out new gaming accessories like iPhone controllers and has her ear to the ground when it comes to covering the next big trend.