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Pokémon Legends: Arceus: Battle guide

For a large portion of gamers out there, Pokémon was their first introduction to RPGs. The simple nature of the early games, the handheld nature, and iconic characters all created a perfect storm for the Pokémon franchise to explode in popularity like almost no other RPG ever had, or ever would. The first games introduced the rock-paper-scissors style of type advantages and weakness, with just a few other wrinkles a player needed to worry about to enjoy the game. Since then, each iteration has played with additions to the turn-based combat to smaller and greater degrees, leading up to the most dramatic change yet in Pokémon Legends: Arceus.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus has shaken up the Pokémon formula more than any mainline game has before. The most obvious changes are the fully explorable and open 3D environments, but the way you go about engaging in battles in this new world has also undergone a major overhaul. If you’re familiar with other Pokémon games, there’s a lot you will feel at home with, but also plenty of new mechanics to wrap your head around. We may not be Professor Oak, but we have put together a comprehensive battle guide for aspiring trainers starting in Pokémon Legends: Arceus.

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Combat basics

A battle against a Gastrodon in Pokemon Legends: Arceus.

The basics of how you even first engage in battle in Pokémon Legends: Arceus is revamped for this title, so it’s worth going over all the basic mechanics first before diving into the more technical aspects.

First, starting a battle. Battles no longer trigger at random while walking through tall grass, which hides your presence from Pokémon, but instead happen dynamically with Pokémon you can see on the field. If they’re low enough level, you can even catch a Pokémon without ever battling it by hitting it with a Pokéball while it is unaware. If you want to start a fight, though, then all you need to do is toss out your chosen fighter near the target and the fight will begin. Because you can decide when a fight starts, you can also initiate a sneak attack by hitting the Pokémon in the back with your Pokéball to ensure you get the first move in battle.

For the most part, Pokémon games have stuck to a pretty strict turn-based battle system where you would take turns with your opponent performing moves. That is mostly true again in Pokémon Legends: Arceus, but now your Pokémon’s stats can have a greater impact on the flow of battle. On the right-hand side of the screen, you will see the Action Order, similar to the turn order used in Final Fantasy X. Depending on your stats and style, and how they compare to your opponent’s, you may be able to get multiple moves in a row before they get a chance to retaliate. Pay close attention to this order to decide when you might need to heal, such as if the enemy is about to have multiple turns in a row, or if it’s better to go all-out attacking.

On your Pokémon’s turn, you still have your traditional choice of 4 moves you can pick for them to use, items, the ability to change which Pokémon you want fighting, and the option to run from the fight. Aside from your Pokémon, you also need to manage your trainer as well. You can also be hit by enemy moves, and if your trainer faints, you’ll be sent back to camp.

Agile Vs Strong styles

Pokemon Legends Arceus battle system

Your Pokémon do have the normal limit of 4 moves as previously mentioned, but that isn’t quite the full story. Each move can be somewhat different depending on which style they are in: either Agile or Strong style once they have mastered that move by leveling up enough times. The stronger a move is, the higher level a Pokémon will need to be before they master it. You can also instantly master a move by trading a Seed of Mastery item with Zisu at the Training Ground to have her train one Pokémon on one move per seed.

After mastering a move, you can either perform it as normal, or switch to either Agile or Strong style versions of it. To switch which style you want to perform a move with, highlight the specific move in battle and cycle between them with the L or R buttons. It’s important to note that while a normal version of a move costs the usual 1 PP, using either Agile or Strong styles will cost 2 PP.

Agile style makes the move in question do less damage, as well as reduce the effects of any status effects that move might have. On the upside, it ramps up the speed of the attack which can potentially lead you to getting additional moves in before your opponent.

Strong style is basically the opposite. Your damage potential goes way up, but are far slower and might end up giving the enemy multiple turns in a row.

Each style has use cases you will need to consider depending on the fight and your goals. If you’re trying to catch a Pokémon, for example, you don’t want to hit it too hard and accidentally knock it out, and having two turns in a row can make it easier to attack and go for a catch. If you’re close to finishing off a tough enemy, a Strong style attack might save you from giving them another turn later.

Status conditions

Status conditions are in just about every RPG. That should make them easy to learn, but each one often uses them differently, either by calling the same thing a different name, or using the same name to describe a different condition. Pokémon Legends: Arceus has a few you will want to pay attention to not only to know what an enemy is doing to you, but what you may want to focus on when building your party. Unlike the older titles, status effects in this game no longer remain after a battle has finished. That means damage over time statuses, like poison, won’t continue to damage your Pokémon as you walk around if you don’t cure it.

The status conditions in Pokémon Legends: Arceus are:

  • Burned: This status reduces a Pokémon’s maximum HP by 1/8th, and reduces their attack stat by half. Fire type Pokémon can’t get the burned status.
  • Paralysis: This status drops a Pokémon’s speed by 1/4th, but also gives them a 1/4th chance of an attack not working at all. Paralysis doesn’t work on electric types.
  • Poisoned: Poisoned is the most straightforward status. A poisoned Pokémon will lose 1/8th of its maximum HP per turn. Both poison and steel types are immune to poison.
  • Badly Poisoned: This works a lot like regular poison, only worse. When badly poisoned, Pokémon lose 1/16th of their max HP on the first turn they get, and each following turn that amount is increased by another 1/16th until it is cured, the battle ends, or the Pokémon faints. Again, poison and steel types are immune.
  • Frozen: Getting frozen will make a Pokémon unable to act at all until it is removed either as a random chance or via an item. Ice types can’t be frozen.
  • Sleep: Sleep is a lot like frozen where a Pokémon won’t be able to perform any actions while sleeping, though it has a maximum of seven turns before they will wake up.
  • Confused: This status effect makes a Pokémon have a 50% chance of attacking themselves rather than their opponent. It lasts at most for four turns, but can be immediately removed by swapping that Pokémon out of the battle.
  • Infatuated: This is a very rare status to see since it requires the two Pokémon battling to be of opposite genders and one to use the Attract move. If it does occur, the infatuated Pokémon has a 50% chance of not performing any moves.

Special encounters

Cleavor stands tall in Pokemon Legends: Arceus.

Aside from the regular wild Pokémon you will find in the various regions, there are a few special types of Pokémon that present much tougher challenges. Alpha Pokémon are much larger, more aggressive forms of Pokémon that randomly appear on the map. They have increased stats to their normal counterparts, and can be spotted for their large size and glowing red eyes. Unlike the rest of the special encounters, you can actually catch and use Alpha Pokémon on your own team. Aside from being more difficult, they are mechanically identical to any other encounter.

Noble Pokémon are the boss encounters of Pokémon Legends: Arceus and have their own special battle mechanic. You will need to dodge their attacks and hit them with Forest Balms to slowly lower their Frenzy Meter. Only when they get exhausted can you send out a Pokémon to start hitting their HP. When you manage to drop their HP to 0, lay into them with more balms to really take down their Frenzy Meter. They will recover their HP after a short time and start the cycle over. Repeat the process until their meter is fully depleted to win.

What happens if you get KO’d

There are a lot of tough fights in Pokémon Legends: Arceus, especially against the special types of Pokémon this game introduces, so odds are you will eventually find yourself getting knocked out in battle. When this happens, you will be transported back to the camp with all your HP recovered, but you will have dropped some of your items with no way to get them back yourself. However, thanks to the new Lost and Found system, other players might recover your dropped items and return them to you, so long as you’re playing online.

There also exists a special charm called the Tempting Charm you can get from Lucile to lose less items when you faint, instead losing the charm. These are fairly cheap, so it’s worth having to preserve your more valuable items.

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