Pokemon Legends: Arceus Evokes Breath Of The Wild, And That's Thrilling
Breath of the Wild might reveal the future of Pokemon.
Despite running just 20 minutes, the Pokemon Presents event featured some big news, particularly if you're a Sinnoh fan. The event saw the announcement of remakes for the original Sinnoh games, Diamond and Pearl, but more notable was Pokemon Legends: Arceus, a brand-new game set in the region. While we don't know much yet, it's described as a "bold new direction" for Pokemon, and one particular part of the trailer will likely stick out to Zelda: Breath of the Wild players.
Virtually every shot in the trailer shows the player in vast, open areas. The rolling fields, sweeping vistas, and sprawling valleys all suggest a more open nature to the world in Legends. But if there was any doubt about what Game Freak is going for, the trailer practically hammered viewers over the head with a reference to Breath of the Wild.
Early in that seminal game, when you first exit the chamber you wake up in, you run out to the edge of a cliff. The camera leaves its position behind Link to zoom out and rise up, giving you your first look at this massive, open Hyrule that you'll explore over the course of the game. It's an overwhelming and tantalizing sequence as the reality sets in of what BOTW is going to offer.
During the Presents, we see a pair of shots in Legends that invoke that sort of feeling. In one, the camera starts out far behind the player character and then pans past them as they stand on the edge of a cliff, overlooking a vast open area. In another shot, the camera pulls back as the character stands over a similar area, but this time with Mt. Coronet, the huge mountain in Sinnoh, featuring prominently in this shot, much as Hyrule Castle and Death Mountain did in BOTW's opening. It's also not unlike many of the moments you encounter in BOTW while playing:
The Pokemon Company never mentions Zelda or Breath of the Wild by name, but its influence can clearly be seen. Legends is set in the past, when the Sinnoh region is home to "harsh environments," which sounds not unlike the unwelcoming Hyrule of BOTW. Likewise, there's talk of using the Sinnoh village as a base for you to venture out into the world and attempt to build out a Pokedex. While you don't have a base in BOTW per se (unless you count your house in Hateno Village), this setup makes it sound as if Legends' Sinnoh might not be home to a bunch of towns that you'll visit throughout the game. Rather, the areas you'd expect to encounter in between towns in a Pokemon game represent the entire world you'll be exploring.
The most recent Pokemon games, Sword and Shield, did introduce a new open-world aspect to the series with the Wild Areas, which are wide-open areas where you can encounter a variety of Pokemon and where those Pokemon are visible in the overworld. While a novel new way to roam around a Pokemon game, they didn't necessarily feel as central to the experience as they could have because they were sections that felt partitioned off from the world, rather than the world being built from Wild Areas. You'd wander through them and battle Pokemon, but it wasn't necessarily an environment you were exploring in any meaningful way, although the Crown Tundra expansion in particular took steps forward in that regard.
Based on this very brief glimpse at Legends and the limited information so far, it certainly seems as if Game Freak is moving in the direction of BOTW (not unlike Nintendo also seemed to do with Bowser's Fury just recently). That's a potentially exciting prospect: After 25 years, new innovations and concepts will help to keep Pokemon fresh. For those who want a more traditional experience, Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are being positioned as faithful remakes. But just as BOTW redefined Zelda, we might be seeing the first glimpse of the future of Pokemon.