Inspired by the dramatic landscapes of Scotland, the upcoming Pokemon Sword and Shield Crown Tundra DLC feels almost cleansing. As soon as you step out of the train station, you're met with a winter wonderland of pine trees and gently falling snowflakes, quite the contrast to anything we've experienced in the Galar region so far. Across the Crown Tundra region, you'll find myriad different locations, but it's this wintery wilderness and locales that feels like the defining characteristic of this second expansion for Pokemon Sword and Shield.
Of course, it wouldn't be a Pokemon DLC without some colourful characters and brand new Pokemon, and the Crown Tundra won't disappoint. The Crown Tundra story has several different threads to it, but the most intriguing is the aim to discover more about the Pokemon known as the King of Bountiful Harvests – aka the big-headed psychic bunny Calyrex. The local citizens think this Pokemon is a mere fairy tale, but the Crown Tundra journey that you'll go on will quickly prove there's more truth to the stories than they could ever imagine.
To learn more about this legendary Pokemon though, you'll be teaming up with the Peony Expedition Team, a father-daughter duo who are clearly working through some teenage family issues. Not quite the oddities of the Isle of Armor's cast, but there are definitely some interesting folks to meet in the Crown Tundra come October 23 when the DLC arrives.
Legendary Tree of the Legendary Three
Another strand of the Crown Tundra's storyline though is about the Galarian versions of the original trilogy of legendary Pokemon – Moltres, Articuno, and Zapdos. All three of the birds are quite the design switch from their original appearance, and honestly, I'm living for the sass of Galarian Articuno, who looks like it could be the latest member of an emo band or an Avengers reject. Prepare yourself for the quest of the Legendary Three of the Legendary Tree! *Cue dramatic music*
It looks like you'll be able to battle and catch all three of these new Galarian Legendary birds, adding them to the expanded Pokedex you'll receive when starting the Crown Tundra DLC. It'll be interesting to see how different their movesets and types are when we actually get face-to-face with these new, yet ultimately familiar foes.
But that's not all when it comes to Legendary Pokemon in the Crown Tundra. Thanks to the new Dynamax Adventures feature, you'll be teaming up with up to three other adventurers to battle with in order to reach the new Max Lairs, where even more Legendary Pokemon from previous generations lurk. For these Dynamax Adventures, you're effectively borrowing a Pokemon from a list to use – rather than one from your own party – and then working your way through a branching system that you'll progress through by voting for different paths between your party of four. Through the network of tunnels, you'll meet other Dynamax Pokemon to battle in the usual den style, but if you successfully KO them, you'll have the option to switch it out for the Pokemon you're currently using.
But, because everything is randomised and vote-based, if more than one of you vote to keep that newly caught Pokemon, the game will randomly allocate it to one of the voters. Now, that can be a bit of an issue, as there's no way to heal your Pokemon or reverse any status effects between battles – unless you happen to bump into a friendly NPC to assist you on your route. Helpfully though, you can see the silhouette and type of the Dynamax Pokemon choices to face along the way, which means you'll need to think strategically between the four of you as to which route will work best for your party. Clearly, these Dynamax Adventures are going to be pretty tricky, but with the ultimate reward being a Legendary Pokemon, it'll be worth the strife.
Be the very best
Interestingly, there are more rewards in store for those of us who've been playing Pokemon Sword and Shield since launch and consider ourselves Master Pokemon Trainers. There's a new Galarian Star Tournament to get involved with thanks to the Crown Tundra DLC. Anyone who has become the Galar Champion, and finished both DLC packs can come and compete here, partnering up with other trainers and Gym Leaders for the ultimate dream team combo. These will be intense multi-Pokemon battles that will be the biggest test your party has had to face yet, and will reveal some interesting new elements to the characters you've met on your travels through Galar.
This is definitely a reward for those who've stuck with Sword and Shield, and dived into its Expansion Pass. It feels like there's plenty here for those who have been loyal to the game since its release late last year, and are looking forward to exploring more of its world. Already the stories here seem stronger than those of the Isle of Armor, and with additional challenges to come, it's certainly an exciting time to be a Pokemon trainer.
The Crown Tundra DLC arrives for Pokemon Sword and Shield exclusively on Nintendo Switch on October 23.