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Pokémon Legends: Arceus Is Looking Less Rough

Game Freak’s latest trailer shows a lot of visual improvements on Switch

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A Pokémon trainer greeting a bird at the top of a snowy mountain.
Screenshot: The Pokémon Company

We got a second, much more in-depth look at Pokémon Legends: Arceus today, and the most ambitious Pokémon game to-date looks to be running a lot smoother than when it was originally revealed earlier this year.

When Pokémon Legends: Arceus first trailer debuted in February, it was clearly aiming to channel the freedom, scope, and sweeping vistas of Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The inspiration was certainly there in spirit, and in some cases, the 1:1 imitation was even explicit. But while the illusion was pretty good in static frames, Arceus looked much rougher in action.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus’ first trailer.

While running around open fields, the character animation seemed to chug a bit, making the whole thing feel a bit like a Matrix simulation slowly coming apart at the seams. I have no idea what the actual frame rate was, but it certainly seemed sub-30 and choppy. And plenty of fans and YouTubers went through the trailer with a fine-toothed comb complaining about how rough the gameplay looked.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus’ new trailer. 

Now, it looks like a lot of these issues have been addressed. The action looks crisper, the frame rate has gone up, and the lighting, detail, and clarity of just about all the environments seem to have improved by a decent amount. The new trailer shows a lot of similar stuff to the original one, like trainers rolling into the tall grass to scope out and catch a new Pokémon. Across the board, these new versions look more fluid and less like they’re taking place underwater.

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Screenshots comparing the village shown in the first trailer vs. the second.
Arceus’s hub village as shown in the first trailer (top) vs. the second one (bottom).
Screenshot: The Pokémon Company

Games nowadays get optimized the closer they get to development. That’s nothing new. It’s notable in this case, however, as it’s only been six months and because it’s Pokémon. Some fans have a love-hate relationship with the series and have become accustomed to nit-picking every apparent visual flaw in new trailers to use as evidence that developer Game Freak is cutting corners or not being ambitious enough.

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In this case at least, many of those complaints seem to have been addressed, whether intentionally or simply over the normal course of game development. I’m sure a few diehard Pokémon fans will find something else to get worked up about, but it’s a promising development for the next iteration of the series coming to Switch in January 2022.