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Here's What You'll Actually Do In Pokémon Legends: Arceus

A closer look at Game Freak's action-RPG prequel for the Nintendo Switch

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An image of the main characters of Pokemon Legends Arceus.
The heroes of Pokemon Legends Arceus
Screenshot: The Pokémon Company

Pokémon Legends: Arceus is set to break all sorts of new ground. In a first for the Pokémon series, it’s an open-world action role-playing game set in the distant past of the Sinnoh Region. But while we know the January 28 release date, we don’t know much about how this strange new Pokémon game works. Now we know a whole lot more, thanks to the latest Pokémon Presents this Wednesday morning.

In Pokémon Legends: Arceus you’re tasked with compiling the very first Pokédex in Sinnoh region’s history, long before the events of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, both of which are getting remakes for the Switch on November 19. That’ll give fans a couple of months to reacquaint themselves with Sinnoh before Legends: Arceus plunges them into the past. There’s also a mystery to solve involving legendary Pokémon Arceus, hence its top billing.


Your character is a part of the Galaxy Expedition Team, made up of people from other regions who have joined together to explore the wild Sinnoh region. As a member of the Survey Corps, you are tasked with setting off on expeditions to capture and study Pokémon in the area. Using the Jubalife Village as a central base, you set off on expeditions to various areas in the Sinnoh Region, battling pocket monsters, crafting supplies, and even mounting larger Pokémon to help explore.

A screenshot from Pokémon Legends Arceus.
Screenshot: The Pokémon Company

Though comparisons have been made to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, it actually sounds like Arceus might be a bit more like a Monster Hunter game. You embark from a camp, take missions from villagers in a central location, and craft your own supplies. The ancient Japan vibe of the setting even feels a bit like Monster Hunter, though I doubt we’ll be deconstructing Pokémon for parts.

Read More: Pokémon Legends: Arceus Is A New Open-World Game Coming In 2022

Unlike traditional Pokémon games in which you engage pocket monsters in turn-based RPG battles, Legends: Arceus battles take place directly on the playfield. You can capture critter companions in the overworld without going through battle, and also initiate real-time Pokémon battles by placing the monsters you’ve already captured onto the field near wild ones. It’s a natural open-world evolution of the wild areas in Sword and Shield. Also bucking tradition, at the onset of the new game you can choose one of three starters from other games in the series—Rowlet (from Pokémon Sun and Moon), Cyndaquil (from Pokémon Gold and Silver), and Oshawott (from Pokémon Black and White).

I can’t wait to see more of this weird new game, which feels like an amalgamation of pocket monsters and Monster Hunter. Pokémon Legends: Arceus arrives on the Nintendo Switch on January 28.