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Pokemon Legends: Arceus - Everything we know so far

Pokemon Legends Arceus
(Image credit: The Pokemon Company)

Pokemon Legends: Arceus is the brand new game from Game Freak and The Pokemon Company, and it's dropping early next year. For something a little different, this game is taking us back to the earliest point in the series history, to an area known as the Hisui region, which will eventually become the Sinnoh region. 

Your task is to build the region's very first Pokedex, by going on research expeditions to discover the wild Pokemon that roam the land, catching, and documenting them for the very first time. From what we've seen so far, it does seems like a blend between Pokemon Sword and Shield and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, with just a little sprinkling of Pokemon Snap's research elements. 

If that isn't already enough to excite you, these words from The Pokemon Company chief operating officer Takato Utsunomiya should: "Pokemon Legends: Arceus represents a new approach for the Pokemon video game series," says Utsunomiya. "Development is in full swing at Game Freak, with the aim to deliver a gaming experience that delivers new ground for the Pokemon series."

Below we're going to round up everything we know so far about Pokemon Legends: Arceus, including trailers, release date, gameplay details, starter Pokemon, and more.

What is Pokemon Legends: Arceus?

Pokemon Legends: Arceus is the next big Pokemon adventure - another main entry in the series, after the last Pokemon Sword and Shield. However, the fandom is especially excited about this one because, to quote The Pokemon Company, it's a "bold new direction" for the franchise, which aims to "honor past Pokemon games' core gameplay while infusing new action and RPG elements". 

Take a look at the first Pokemon Legends: Arceus trailer above, which gives you a good overview of just how different the game looks - and will hopefully feel - from the previous games. 

This is basically Breath of the Wild - open world, exploration driven - but based in the lore and worlds of Pokemon. Well, the Sinnoh region specifically, which was originally the setting for Pokemon Diamond and Pearl, and will be also revisited in the upcoming Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl remakes. 

When is the Pokemon Legends: Arceus release date?

Pokemon Legends Arceus

(Image credit: The Pokemon Company)

The Pokemon Legends: Arceus release date has been confirmed for January 28, 2022. This Switch exclusive got a release date in a surprise Twitter announcement, cementing a date beyond the original 'early 2022' launch window. 

What is the Pokemon Legends: Arceus story?

The Pokemon Legends: Arceus story is taking us way back to before any Pokemon games to date. We'll be exploring the Sinnoh region - the locale for the Pokemon Diamond and Pearl / Gen 4 games - but at a period in Pokemon history that developer Game Freak describes as a "long-gone era". 

The first trailer for the game states that this is "a tale from a long, long time ago," when the Sinnoh region was still only a vast wilderness. In fact, it goes as far as to say that the Pokemon Legends: Arceus story is set "before ideas such as being a Pokemon Trainer or having a Pokemon League even existed". The most recent trailer  (seen above) also reiterates this idea by stating that the upcoming adventure tells "a tale of a time long ago when the lives of Pokemon and humans were still separate". 

Your goal is to create and complete the very first ever Sinnoh Pokedex. This will mean discovering and observing every single Pokemon in the Sinnoh region to build out that Pokemon Legends: Arceus Pokedex as part of the new Galaxy team's Survey Corps. 

Interestingly in the latest Pokemon Presents stream, you can see the sky start to split open, and Pokemon seem to be overcome by some kind of shadow that makes them appear to become more aggressive. One thing's for sure: Beware of Ursaring

Is Pokemon Legends: Arceus open-world? 

Pokemon Legends Arceus

(Image credit: The Pokemon Company)

Whilst it seemed that Nintendo officially confirmed that Pokemon Legends: Arceus is an open-world game, it has now clarified that it won't be fully open-world. 

"In Pokemon Legends: Arceus, Jubilife Village will serve as the base for surveying missions," reads a statement provided to Kotaku. "After receiving an assignment or a request and preparing for their next excursion, players will set out from the village to study one of the various open areas of the Hisui region. After they finish the survey work, players will need to return once more to prepare for their next task. We look forward to sharing more information about exploring the Hisui region soon."

Set in the Hisui region, which will one day come to be known as the Sinnoh region, the latest look at the game's setting of the Hisui region, we get to see some of the diverse natural environments we'll get explore, and also check out some of the different terrain types and weather conditions, including snowy climbs, rainfall over lush green vistas, and desert lands. 

As this is a game set long before the events of Pokemon Diamond and Pearl, with the Sinnoh region itself based on the Japanese island of Hokkaido, there's plenty of history both within the game lore and its source material to explore. We get to see some glimpses of the old ecosystems of the region, with Jubilife village being your main base, and different Pokemon inhabitants in the various areas. The initial reveal trailer also mentions mountains and seas - the mountain of course being Mount Coronet, which has always been the center of the Sinnoh region. 

Game Freak promises that "this is a Sinnoh unlike anything Trainers have experienced before as they embark to create the region’s first Pokédex". 

Pokemon Legends: Arceus introduces the new Galaxy team

Pokemon Legends: Arceus

(Image credit: The Pokemon Company)

Jubilife village is also home to the Galaxy expedition team, which is said to be made up of members from a variety of different regions. The Galaxy team fronts up the Medical, Security, and Survey Corps in Hisui, and each division has a different leader who you'll meet during your adventures. 

As the latest Pokemon Presents stream showcased, Captain Cyllene is the leader of the Survey Corps,  who is said to be your biggest supporter and watches over your progress. 

Commander Komado fronts and oversees the entire Galaxy expedition team, and is described as a dependable leader who "has earned the unwavering trust of his team members". Komado allows you to join the team when he becomes aware of your "knack for Pokemon research". Oh, and he also sports one very serious mustache. 

What will Pokemon Legends: Arceus gameplay be like?

Pokemon Legends Arceus

(Image credit: The Pokemon Company)

To complement your task of building the very first Sinnoh Pokedex, the Pokemon Legends: Arceus gameplay has been seemingly completely overhauled too. Whilst you'll still be catching and battling Pokemon, Arceus is moving to an open-world structure that basically turns the Wild Area of Pokemon Sword and Shield into a full gamer. 

Game Freak has said that Pokemon Legends: Arceus "represents a new approach for the series", and it's clear from the very first trailers that this is quite the, ahem, evolution. 

You'll be able to go on excursions to observe Pokemon in their natural habitats as you join the ranks of the Survey Corps in the Hisui region. In the setting of Jubilife village, you can take up Survey assignments, which can be turned in once you've completed them. According to the latest Pokemon Presents stream, the duties you take up in the Survey Corps will unlock the "true purpose" of your adventure... how intriguing. 

Each excursion you go on will begin by preparing at a base camp, where you can buy items or crafting them from materials. By catching Pokemon in various locations, you'll be able to learn more about how they live to build up your Pokedex. In order to catch Pokemon, you simply sneaking up and carefully aiming and throwing a Pokeball at them. No more blinding running about in the long grass and waiting for the battle to begin. Different Pokemon will react in various ways to your presence, with some more prone to flee, so you can instead use the long grass to stealthily approach them. There are also aggressive Pokemon who you'll have to battle in order to catch them. 

As you explore the lands and learn about the creatures that roam the different environments, you will be vulnerable to attacks from wild Pokemon in the Hisui region. This means you risk fainting or blacking out if take one too many hits.

Pokemon Legends: Arceus features two different move styles

Pokemon Legends: Arceus

(Image credit: The Pokemon Company)

Battling will also be as simple as reaching for the Pokeball of one of your team near a wild Pokemon to seamlessly enter battle. From here, Pokemon battles will be much more familiar, but it's this way of interacting that will, hopefully, feel a lot more natural and realistic. 

Pokemon Legends: Arceus is also bringing different move styles to the table. When you enter into battle, you can choose between Strong or Agile styles, which have different effects. Should you choose Strong Style, the power of the move will increase but the speed will be lowered, while Agile Style decreases power and increases action speed. These styles look set to add a new layer of strategy to Pokemon battles. 

Certain Pokemon you battle with may also be able to take multiple turns against their opponent depending on your Pokemon's speed stats and moves. 

Pokemon Legends: Arceus introduces new Hisuian variants and evolutions

Pokemon Legends Arceus

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Just like the unique Galarian Pokemon found in Pokemon Sword and Shield, Pokemon Legends: Arceus will introduce us to new Hisuian variants. The latest trailer shows off a host of new Pokemon variants and evolutions we'll find in the upcoming adventure, and the official Pokemon Legends website offers more details about these new additions. 

Wyrdeer, for example, is the new evolution of a Stantler who has acclimatized to the environments of the region. Said to have "strong ties" with the locals of Hisui, Wyrdeer is a Normal / Psychic "big horned" Pokemon who has been respected and taken care of in the lands since ancient times.  

Basculegion is another new evolution that is said to be a powerful swimmer. Just like the Wrydeer, the Basculegion has special evolution requirements unique to the region. Once a Basculin is possessed by the souls of other Basculin from its school, it evolves into Basculegion - that's quite the mouthful isn't it? Basculegion is a Water / Ghost-type who fights with these souls to attack opponents. 

Hisuian Braviary is the region's variant of the evolution of Rufflet. As a Fighting / Flying type, Hisuian Braviary is larger than other Braviarys found in different regions and lives alone rather than flying in flocks. 

Hisui Growlithe is a new regional variant of Growlithe with more voluminous fur that retains heat to help them thrive in the colder climbs of Hisui. The adorable Fire / Rock-type Pokemon has a horn on the top of its head that's made of rock, but it's said to break quite easily. 

Most excitingly of all, though, is the fact that you appear to be able to ride some of these Pokemon and use them as mounts on land, in the sky, and in water to explore the world of the new adventure. 

Interestingly, the latest Pokemon Legends: Arceus leak hints at Hisuian Mewtwo, new Legendaries, and more

Who are the Pokemon Legends: Arceus Starter Pokemon?

Pokemon Legends Arceus starters

(Image credit: Nintendo)

In another bold choice, Game Freak is also doing something different when it comes to the starter choices for Arceus. All of the Pokemon Legends: Arceus Starters are from different generations for the first time ever. We've got Cyndaquil from Gen 2, Oshawott from Gen 5, and Rowlet from Gen 7. 

Professor Laventon is a member of the Galaxy team who studies the ecology of Pokemon. Laventon is the one who brings these starter Pokemon to Jubilife, and he is said to have encountered the trio during his excursions in other regions. As is the classic way of things, the professor entrusts one of these starters to you. 

But we're all team Cyndaquil, right?

Who is Arceus, anyway?

Pokemon Legends Arceus

(Image credit: The Pokemon Company)

And finally, there's the titular Arceus itself. If you're wondering who is Arceus in Pokemon, well it's safe to say it's very important indeed. It's said to have shaped all there is in the world, and it's clearly going to have quite an important role to play in this new game. This Normal-Type Pokemon was first introduced during Gen 4, and could be found in Diamond and Pearl by playing the Azure Flute in the Hall of Origin. 

However, because that wasn't an item that could be found in the game organically, but rather was released as an event-exclusive item, players have been on quite the journey to actually get the Mythical beast in their games at the time. In fact, it wasn't even officially recognized by Nintendo until 2009 when its debut movie arrived. 

It was then known as "The Original One", and is even thought to be the Pokemon that created the Sinnoh region, if not the Pokemon universe itself, including a whole host of other mythical Pokemon such as the lake guardians and the creation trio. 

We can't wait to learn more about this Mythical Pokemon in Pokemon Legends: Arceus when it arrives in early 2022. 

Sam Loveridge
Sam Loveridge

Sam Loveridge is the Global Editor-in-Chief of GamesRadar, and joined the team in August 2017. Sam came to GamesRadar after working at TrustedReviews, Digital Spy, and Fandom, following the completion of an MA in Journalism. In her time, she's also had appearances on The Guardian, BBC, and more. Her experience has seen her cover console and PC games, along with gaming hardware, for over seven years, and for GamesRadar, she is in charge of reviews, best lists, and the overall running of the site and its staff. Her gaming passions lie with weird simulation games, big open-world RPGs, and beautifully crafted indies. Basically, she loves all games that aren't sports or fighting titles!