The Pokemon Legends: Arceus Leak Confirms That I Have No Idea What This Game Is

Pokemon Legends: Arceus is only a few weeks away, and I have no idea what you actually do in this game. Apparently, an open-world Pokemon RPG isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. Based on the trailers and leaks, it seems like Legends: Arceus will be fundamentally different from the core Pokemon games in almost every way. The most recent leaks suggest that it won’t even have breeding, held items, abilities, or traditional IVs. I know a lot about what Legends: Arceus isn’t, but I don’t have a very clear vision of what it is.

Pokemon Legends: Arceus is not an RPG where you’re given a starter Pokemon and sent across the region to collect monsters and fight gym leaders. It won’t have turn-based battles, breeding, or the complex stat management that the mainline Pokemon games are known for. It will have trading and, of course, Pokemon catching. You’ll be able to use HMs to Surf or Fly around on your Pokemon – though they won’t necessarily be called HMs or activate the same way. Beyond those distinctions, it's excruciatingly unclear what it’s really like in moment-to-moment gameplay.

The new real-time battle system is definitely the core of the Legends: Arceus. While we’ve seen it in action in three different trailers, I don’t have any sense of what you actually do during battles. Is it a Guardians of the Galaxy system where you dodge around while issuing attack commands to your Pokemon? Does it have a Final Fantasy-style turn timer? Will elemental attacks create environmental hazards, like burning fields or flooded valleys? Are type advantages even a thing? I know enough about Legends: Arceus to not take anything about Pokemon for granted. Just because something like type-advantage is a standard convention doesn’t mean it will matter this time, as we’ve learned from so many other missing mechanics.

Aside from battling and catching Pokemon, what exactly do you do in Legends: Arceus? Everyone has a lot of questions and The Pokemon Company has taken a confusing approach to answering them. After the August Nintendo Direct trailer detailed Jubalife town and described it as a central hub where you’ll launch expeditions from, there was a lot of confusion about whether Legends: Arceus was even really an open-world game. In a statement to Kotaku, TPC explained that players will take assignments in town and then go on an expedition into one of the open areas of the Hisui region. This makes it sound a lot like it will be closer to Monster Hunter than Breath of the Wild, in which case maybe battling and collecting Pokemon actually is all you do.

The recent leak describes Legendary Pokemon (or Noble Pokemon, whatever that means) will essentially be Legends: Arceus’ version of boss fights. In Monster Hunter terms, we might refer to Legendaries as Elder Dragons. The campaign could very well just be a series of expeditions, or survey outings as they’re called in Legends, where you catch powerful Pokemon and train them by grinding battles until they’re powerful enough to defeat the Legendaries. That’s the core of any Pokemon game – or RPG, for that matter – but it’s definitely not going to be the open-world Pokemon game a lot of people are hoping for.

As a MonHun fan, I wouldn’t mind a Pokemon game in the style of Monster Hunter. I’m somewhat apprehensive about the passive battle system, especially after slogging through Guardians of the Galaxy’s combat. Whether Legends Arceus is anything like Monster Hunter or Guardians of the Galaxy is pure speculation, however. It’s pretty weird that Legends: Arceus comes out at the end of the month and it's not even clear exactly what genre it's in. I must admit that I’m the kind of brand loyalist that will buy any Pokemon game sight unseen, but it would still be nice to know what exactly I’m buying ahead of time, wouldn’t it?

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