Even dozens of hours into Pokémon Scarlet, I still find myself daydreaming about Pokémon Legends: Arceus.
Released in January 2022, Pokémon Legends: Arceus was the revelation the series had long waited for. It shook up the standard formula of Pokémon, emphasizing surveying environments, as well as hunting and capturing Pokémon, in a refreshing way for a series that had started to stagnate. As I continue to play through Pokémon Scarlet, I am starting to miss aspects of Pokémon Legends: Arceus more and more. As a result, I find myself keeping my fingers crossed that Pokémon Legends: Arceus will get support in the form of DLC before Scarlet and Violet.
Entering Pokémon’s DLC era
The concept of DLC or an expansion pass for mainline Pokémon games is relatively new, as the series previously opted for enhanced versions of previously released titles, like Pokémon Platinum or Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. Instead of going that route, though, Pokémon Sword and Shield increased its longevity by releasing two DLC packs throughout 2020. These added large new areas for players to explore and stories for players to experience within them.
This DLC allowed Pokémon Sword and Shield to to stay relevant, helping them become the bestselling pair of Pokemon games since Red and Blue. If the current Pokémon generation cadence keeps up, the next mainline Pokémon game likely won’t release until 2025. As such, developer Game Freak needs to do what it can to increase the longevity of already released Pokémon games to fill that gap. It should start with Pokémon Legends: Arceus before moving on to Scarlet and Violet.
Due to how Pokémon Legends: Arceus is structured, an expansion can easily fit into the formula. An update could let players explore a new part of Sinnoh not covered in the main game. Although Pokémon Legends: Arceus is pretty thorough, there are still some gaps to fill. Areas to the far west remain unexplored in the game, leaving space for DLC to explore what would eventually become Canalave City, Twinleaf Town, and the Iron Islands. There’s also the far south, which leaves space for the player to establish an early version of Hearthome City.
And while Pokémon Legends: Arceus does feature every single Sinnoh legendary Pokemon in some form, there’s always the option of bringing in legendaries from other regions and potentially giving them Hisuian forms, introducing a brand new creature, or creating a new legendary altogether. No matter how Game Freak approaches a potential Pokémon Legends: Arceus expansion, I would welcome more of its winning formula.
The feeling of slowly surveying a new area, discovering the variety of Pokémon within it, and throwing the right kind of Poke Ball is unmatched, even by Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. I’ve thoroughly explored all five of Pokémon Legends Arceus‘ areas, though, so that first-time feeling is now fleeting. An expansion that follows up its core gameplay ideas would allow me to experience it all again for the first time.
Why Scarlet and Violet will probably get DLC
Two games stand in the way of that DLC dream: Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. These games feature some elements of Pokémon Legends: Arceus, as the Paldea region is an open world wher Pokémon naturally appear in the environment. While I am capturing more Pokémon than usual in these games, the fact that I must battle every time I want to catch one means that I don’t account for the environment as much. In turn, it doesn’t quite capture the monster-hunting game sensibilities of Pokémon Legends: Arceus.
It’s also riddled with visual and technical issues that constantly dampen the experience just as you start to get immersed in the game’s world. Pokémon Legends: Arceus didn’t look good, but Pokémon Scarlet and Violet take the series to a new low. Still, as the latest mainline Pokemon games, we’ll likely get a Pokémon Scarlet and Violet expansion that contains new open-world areas to explore, with new Pokémon to find and challenges to complete.
I’ll still play Pokémon Scarlet and Violet DLC if it does happen, but I’d personally prefer that Game Freak sort out all of those glitches and technical issues before a DLC is released, Cyberpunk 2077 style. Pokémon Scarlet and Violet aren’t bad video games; I find them quite fun and wouldn’t mind playing more of them through an expansion. Still, my time with Pokémon’s ninth generation has cemented the feeling that I want this series to return to the catching-focused formula Pokémon Legends: Arceus established.
In the short term, that would likely be through DLC padding out The Pokémon Company’s release schedule until the next generation of Pokémon games inevitably releases. In the long term, even if we never get DLC, I hope that Pokémon Legends: Arceus‘ formula isn’t a one-and-done deal for this long-running series.
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