Playthrough: The Legend of Arceus

Box Art

Hello and welcome to The Starlight Megaphone’s playthrough of Pokemon Legends: Arceus, a Pokemon-series JRPG released worldwide and exclusively for the Nintendo Switch on 28 January 2022.

Pokemon Legends: Arceus is part of the ‘eighth generation’ of PKMN games, and its plot is a prequel to the events of Pokemon Diamond/Pearl/Platinum. It is not a part of the ‘main series’ of Pokemon games, but at the same time it is atypical of PKMN spin-off and side-story titles (such as Pokemon GO) due to its close adherance to Pokemon game mechanics and systems. Although Pokemon Legends: Arceus does contain some action RPG innovations (such as when allowing the capture of wild pokemon without battling them first), much of the gameplay is similar to traditional PKMN games.

Building on the open, 3D design of the wild areas in Pokemon Sword/Shield, Pokemon Legends: Arceus provides vast regions each with their own climate and local pokemon. Where in Sword/Shield the open-range wild areas had been the place for post-game congregation and activity, in Pokemon Legends: Arceus the game is comprised only of open-range areas. And, the visual aesthetic has changed as well: Sword/Shield adopted a higher-res version of the standard PKMN artstyle that has been developed in the main series games. But, Pokemon Legends: Arceus deviates from that PKMN-cartoon-aderhering feel somewhat by adopting the aesthetic of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The result is magnificent: Breath of the Wild is one of the great triumphs of marrying a sense of realism with a stunningly beautiful, timelessly animated, visual style. Pokemon Legends: Arceus, by adopting elements of that approach, results in a game with a more mature, polished, and immersive experience that sacrifices none of the enduring charm of the earlier games’ graphical presentation.

A vast world of Pokemon awaits exploration.

Other storyline differences set Pokemon Legends: Arceus apart from the main series Pokemon games: typically, the main series games begin with the player character as a child in their hometown (or new hometown). Then, the player meets the local Pokemon Professor (named after a species of tree) and a neighbour who will become a rival/friend. A starting pokemon is chosen from three options unique to the game, and the player’s character gains permission from his mother to become a pokemon trainer, exploring the world to fill the professor’s pokedex (and becoming the competitive pokemon champion of the region as well).

In Pokemon Legends: Arceus, the opening formula has been rewritten to give the player a greater sense of identification with the main character: gone are the in-game parents and connexion to an actual hometown. Instead, the main character falls from a rift in the sky, arriving in the middle of a world with which they, like the player, have no experience. So the player character becomes a true avatar for the player himself: both explore the world with a basic understanding of how pokemon are captured, trained, and battled, but without any concrete knowledge about the setting, people, and particularities of the region. The player learns along with the character.

Battles are traditional, but are seamlessly integrated into the world.

The main distinction between Pokemon Legends: Arceus and main-series Pokemon games is the newly-incorporated action RPG elements, an aspect which could have been the undoing of the game’s brilliance, had it been taken to the extremes seen in Final Fantasy VII Remake. Game Freak, however, have better sense than the addled minds which populate Square Enix development teams, and the balance struck in Pokemon Legends: Arceus preserves the traditional battling elements for ‘aggressive’ Pokemon that cannot be caught simply by tossing a ball at them. Some of the more docile pokemon (like the laughably dull Bidoof) will enter a pokeball the moment they are struck with one. Others (like the skittish Starly) must be approached with caution lest they be frightened away. But a third category, identified with a red “X” symbol, must be battled first. Even those traditional elements have been refined and improved: pokemon move sets can be changed between battles via the menu, pokeballs and other items can be crafted (in the style of Breath of the Wild) from items found in the world, and much more.

Please use the comment thread below to discuss your approach to the game, challenges you have faced, strategies and content you have uncovered, and any aids you are using in your playthrough. Do you prefer the PKMN games to have connexions between their storylines or would you prefer them to be independent? Do you prefer the 2D or 3D games in the series? Do you approve of the continuing move from fixed-angle maps to open-world exploration? What sorts of changes would you make to the game? What features would you add or remove? Tell us all about it and join in our discussion below! We will select some of the best comments, each week, for our podcast discussion.

As always, hundreds of PKMN are available to join players on their adventure.

The aim in this playthrough is to complete the entirety of the game by 25 February. Instead of milestones, we encourage you to play at your own pace–but please keep us updated about your thoughts and progress as you play the game. This will help to sustain our discussion and encourage other players to complete the game. Please also make use of our official Discord channel, where we have an #events channel dedicated to playthrough chat.

Please join in with us and comment about your experience! The playthrough time frame is intended to allow anyone and everyone to participate, regardless of speed of play or familiarity with the series. Comment and tell your friends!

Without further adieu, we invite you to join The Starlight Megaphone’s staff members and readers in The Legend of Arceus: a Pokemon Legends: Arceus playthrough!

26 comments

  1. I have already played a little bit and I cannot emphasise enough how much Pokemon Legends: Arceus has absolutely blown me away. I had high expectations for it after Pokemon Shield, which I loved so much that I 100% absolutely totally thoroughly completed it and its expansions (playing through bits of it multiple times in order to get not merely a complete pokedex but also to have EVERY POSSIBLE POKEMON on hand).

    But then I fired this game up and it was just jaw-dropping. The decisions that Game Freak have made could have ruined the game, turning it into a Kingdom-Hearts-chasing action RPG travesty that would have alienated PKMN fans whilst bringing hardly anyone on board. That’s the classic Squeenix move: throw away the current fans in a futile effort to chase new fans that don’t care. But no! Instead, the Action RPG elements are integrated sensibly and only where appropriate, and they do not supplant the traditional gameplay–rather they supplement it, working side-by-side with it. The result is a game that provides players with a variety of gameplay styles which have an in-game in-world reason for being present.

    And the artstyle! Well. I cannot praise Pokemon Legends: Arceus enough, just yet. We’ll see if my positive outlook continues as I play through it, but I am just gobsmacked at what I have seen so far.

  2. I got the first stamp for beating a noble Pokémon today. I’m just short of four-star rank. Unfortunately, we all have Covid, so I haven’t been feeling very well enough to play much, but maybe next weekend things will be better!

  3. I just beat the first noble Pokémon this morning and really enjoying my time so far. I completely agree with you on the Action RPG elements, Caspius. They don’t feel forced or gimmicky, more like a natural evolution for the series. Hoping for a speedy recovery for Family Caspius so you can dive back in!

  4. How are you all doing now Caspius?

    My game FINALLY arrived!!! Our mailsystem is not great now with alternating three days a week and two days making the chances already slim of hitting release. But it doesn’t even have a chance if the store don’t send it!! Geeze they didn’t send until Wednesday, almost a week from my order 🤦🏻‍♀️

    But I hear it’s a collectaton and lots of research things and well you guys. It’s been an honor. See you in a billion years 😂

  5. As I’ve been researching Pokemon, I’ve been thinking, “Winter is going to LOVE this.” Lots of repetitive collecting and capturing and battling, with special tasks like doing certain moves or catching heavy pokemon.

    It’s extremely fun and addictive, so I imagine you’ll have a blast!

  6. First couple of hours were a success! Ran the battery all the way down 😅 This is Breath of the Wild without the tough puzzles and with lots more collectibles 😍

  7. I think I can build a live pokedex too!!?? I thought I couldn’t, but looks like I can move them in the pastures 😍 Definitely best pokemon game to date, it’s amazing!

  8. Let’s face it, I have about zero % chance making it to a star this playthrough, but I sure am going to have a blast!

  9. I finally decided to get the game after hearing the pretty positive opinions of everyone else in the Starlight Megaphone community. It was pretty hard to find a physical copy. The soonest Amazon would get a copy here was the 17th and there were no stores like Gamestop or Wal-Mart that had a copy within 50 miles from where I live. I found my copy at a local media store.

    I’ve played around 2 hours so far. I chose Cyndaquil as my starter because its my favorite of the three choices. I was tempted to go for Rowlett because the final form looks like Shiren the Wanderer but it wasn’t enough to beat out my affection for Cyndaquil. The games pretty enjoyable so far. I’m looking forward to getting more freedom when I get out of the long tutorial section.

  10. Thanks Winter! The game has a lot of fun so far.

    I just got the water transportation and It’s kind of fun that battles in the water include a little floating platform for your Pokemon to stand on.

    I went into the game pretty blind and now I’m running into cool fire types like the new Growlithe but I already have my fire type with the starter, so oh well.

    I also went into my first distortion which was a pretty crazy. trying to dodge all these much higher level Pokemon mobs trying to murder you. I ran into a red eyed Leafeon that was chasing me down with murder in its soul along with its friends Gengar and Ursaring. I haven’t gotten knocked out yet but that was probably the closest I have come to death.

  11. I thought I’d update on my progress here as well as the discord with my thoughts so far.
    I’m about 11hrs in now and just finished the second noble, the Lilligant boss fight.
    Really enjoying the game, it’s been very addictive so far.
    My team is
    Samurott
    Graveler
    Snorlax
    Luxray
    Drifblim
    Scyther
    And they’re averaging mid lv30s now. I’m debating swapping in a Heracross that I found in a Space Time Warpfield (?)

    Story wise it’s not brilliant so far but it’s enough of a fresh breath of air to keep me interested. Gameplay wise I’m really liking it. It’s the kind of just a little bit more exploration and grinding feeling I get with it. I do think the world is a little bit empty and bland at times. Maybe the game could have used a year or so more in development. Some areas just feel a bit devoid of anything interesting, for example. I reached an area called the Diamond settlement, which looked like a small town. I started talking to people and looked on the map for any new requests here, nothing. I just continued round the corner to the boss fight a little bit disappointed. There are a good few areas like that. ‘Oh cool Solaceon Ruins, sounds interesting! There must be loads of cool rewards or Pokémon or at least lore here right?’ No, nothing much of the sort. Just the few story cutscenes there so far, and an overly large, bland room.
    Lastly, the Pokémon don’t seem to live in the world. It is a nice world and all but it starts to seem a bit bland and samey. The Pokémon don’t really interact or feel like they are living in the world. They just feel like they are spawning there and standing around. I’ve only seen a few where they actually seem to have animations that are linked with the environment, maybe Psyduck lounging around in the water for example. Having played games like Monster Hunter Rise which feel vibrant and lush, with detailed ecosystems and hidden things you can stumble across many hundreds of hours later, it feels a bit of a slight let down coming to Pokémon Legends Arceus.
    Texture wise and pop in wise, well the graphics don’t bother me. It has enough style and atmosphere that I really enjoy it. Changes in weather and lighting are really interesting. Some things, like the opaque yellow swamp that Pokémon can wade through and still remain targettable without knowing what they are or where they are, feel a bit disappointing and an obvious FFVII remake “door-gate” level oversight.

    Saying that, I am still having a blast and enjoying the game. I think as a first attempt at an open world Pokémon game, it’s quite impressive.

  12. I’m completely, utterly taken with this game! When I’m not playing it I’m still thinking about it. Without doubt my favorite Pokemon game!

    Reached Crimson Mirelands today, but let’s face it I’m only doing storybits so I can get back to researching and collecting more efficiently 😂

  13. I’m near the end of the main story-line I think. I agree with Berserk that the world seems kind of empty. That said, I usually feel that way with most open-world type games.

    The only other complaints would too few Pokemon battles against other people and being forced to raise your star rank to advance the story. I get why they want to force you to explore the areas and fill out the Pokedex but I always am trying to advance in games quickly and being forced to spend 3-5 hours raising my star level was annoying to me.

    My team right now is Sneasel/Honchkrow/Sligoo/Typhlosion/Floatzel/Zoroark.

  14. I can’t remember where I heard this, but this actually made some sense. Due to the fact that the game is set way back in time and Pokémon training is not widespread yet, it has fewer Pokémon trainer battles and the ones that are there have more impact arguably.
    The problem I have with the Pokémon trainer battles, they seem to artificially boost the difficulty by making them 2vs1 battles at times. However, even with 1 lower level Pokémon, this makes it very hard to switch in or heal one of your team without getting 2 or more concurrent attacks, which it seems is usually enough to wipe out the Pokémon that is active.

    I’m 21hrs in, 6* and up to the Alabaster Icelands and my team is
    Samurott lv50
    Gliscor lv56
    Kleavor lv50
    Electrode lv44
    Gengar lv43
    Infernape lv46
    I decided to farm Gravelers, hoping for the Black Augurite to evolve my Scyther and got pretty lucky with it. For Gliscor I read the quickest way to get the item is the merit points shop. Gengar and Infernape I found them as rare spawns early on? I might be wrong about that.

  15. I haven’t had any issues with the trainer battles, but I tend to be a bit overlevelled, and I have a carefully-balanced team. I’m at the Icelands myself and I have yet to encounter a trainer who can send out something that lasts longer than one hit. Even the multi-fights have been very easy with me one-shotting the pokemon one after another whilst taking relatively little damage.

    With regard to the Black Augurite, you can get some from an easy quest (I know because I just completed that quest). I evolved my Gliscor using an item from the MP shop, but most of the items I have needed have been lucky drops, with just a few exceptions. The items from the Merit Point shop are often found lying on the ground in the distortion rifts (along with the shards). I found a rare Infernape spawn, so I can confirm that, although I’ve yet to see a rare Gengar. I’ve done a lot of Distortion Rifts and I run around in them trying to get rare things to spawn. I haven’t found them difficult either: in fact, it seems that the pokemon inside tend to be similar level to the rest of the nearby pokemon.

    I have 7 stars, five stamps, and my party is roughly L.55-59: Honchkrow, Weavile, Roserade, Toxicroak, Gliscor, and Magnezone. I am considering swapping out my Magnezone for a Rotom, but we’ll see. Magnezone is just so tanky! So far, I’ve never died or blacked out.

    Some helpful things to keep in mind: EV training in the game works differently than in other PKMN games in that you don’t have to choose what stats to boost: you can boost them *all*. Also, the training grounds lady in town (the move tutor) is really helpful for balancing out your team’s attacks.

    Also, I’ve found that it is relatively easy to catch even very high level alpha PKMN who are even as much as 20 levels above my team. If you have sufficient defence and the right super-effective moves, you can get them down into the critical and they will go into an Ultra or a Gigaton ball without much trouble. I just caught a 69 Electravire from Coronet Highlands using a L.55 Magnezone to tank it.

    Finally, I haven’t found it difficult to raise my star level. It has just happened naturally along the way as I’ve been filling out my pokedex and trying to catch (and keep on hand) every single pokemon.

    Good luck!

  16. I beat the main story and the main post game quest. I haven’t caught every Pokemon yet and am working on that. I’m also working on filling out the pokedex entries. I also got my first Shiny……a Nosepass. I would have liked almost any other shiny but it’s still nice.

    I like that the professor just gives you the other two starters if you talk to him after the credits. I was also able to get the normal dark type Sneasel in a rift which was exciting. I really wish the rifts came around more often because there are unique Pokemon you can only get in the rifts.

  17. I haven’t yet fought Avalugg, but I did get Braviary. I have now seen and caught all of the non-legendary pokemon in the game (plus Phione/Manaphy which are from a quest), and except for Zoroark (from a quest I don’t yet have), the other two starters/evolutions, and Spiritomb (a quest I’m finishing tonight). Once I have Spiritomb, I will be at 219 caught / 221 seen, which is every pokemon possible at this point in the game!

    I have them all on hand except the various evolutions of the starter (because I only got the one).

    Final team is: Honchkrow, Weavile, Sneasler, Roserade, Gliscor, and Rotom, all currently just under L.70. I have eight stars so far (should have nine tonight).

  18. I beat the main story yesterday evening, and have just about finished the post game today.

    Some things worth noting: it seems that the pokedex only needs the first 237 entries in order to be complete. I can’t totally confirm this, because I already had Phione (239), Manaphy (240), and Shaymin (241) by the point that I got the last of the 237, but it looks like they don’t contribute to whether or not it is considered “done”.

    This also means that Arceus (238) doesn’t count, nor does Darkrai (242) which comes from Quest 93–a quest that only unlocks if you have a save file for Pokémon Diamond or Pearl on your Switch.

    If you see/get 237+, it will still update your total seen/caught count! But none of the Pokémon after 237 will change the individual area totals (I posted a picture on Discord).

    The game’s ultimate fight, the battle versus Arceus, is comfortably the hardest arena fight in the game. His normal attacks are relatively easy to dodge, but in his second phase he will disappear from view and then reappear suddenly, and without warning, whereupon he will charge into the main character. This is an instant kill no matter how little damage has been taken or how many life charms are in the bag. Because the game camera cannot really be zoomed out, you pretty much have to be looking right at him when he appears to have a chance to dodge. It’s actually rather frustrating.

    The actual Pokémon battle segments against him are not too bad: he is level 75 and rather stronger than usual for that level. Probably closer to what you would expect from 80 or 85. Make sure you have fighting type moves.

    I had one go at Arceus this afternoon (and got one shotted in the second phase), but will try again tonight when the boys can watch. My entire team is now L.77, and their EV values are all mostly trained up: nothing lower than 7 and everyone’s attack and HP are 10.

    I would really love for them to do DLC for this game, but I don’t think that’s very likely. Not impossible, of course, but it would require a change in their attitude towards what they consider to be “spin-off” titles. Here’s hoping…

  19. I forgot to mention that, if you want to get the shiny charm, which dramatically increases the shiny appearance rate, you have to complete–get to L.10–every single Pokédex entry, (presumably through 237). Note that this doesn’t mean you have to do *every* research task for every Pokémon – just enough tasks per pokmeon to get each one to research level 10. After that, talk to the professor, and claim your shiny charm!

  20. Beat Arceus on my second try: got a lucky dodge on his charge-kill and whipped him easily this time. GAME COMPLETE!

  21. My final update, I finished the main story. I got very addicted early on and played a lot but the progress and my enthusiasm for the game wanted just a little bit. I’ve been busy with studying for a postgrad course for my work.
    I approached the game fairly thoroughly, doing maybe 50-70% of the side quests and Pokédex completion. “I’ll leave this for later” was often my thought.

    Anyway my progress ended up like this after beating the end boss for the 1st set of credits.
    7 star,
    Seen 176, Obtained 142
    Play time 31:05

    Garchomp LV85
    Palkia LV67 (for the story? I think you need palkia in the party)
    Probopass LV75
    Drapion LV72
    Infernape LV65
    Ninetales (Alolan) LV51

    Into the postgame I have a few choices to replace Palkia. I have Blissey, Samurott, Electrode, Kleavor, Zoroark (Hisui). Samurott, Kleavor and Electrode got taken out because they had limited movepools and were too fragile defensively though.

    Some thoughts;
    -Graphically I think it’s fine. Not amazing but it’s good enough. It has character, charm and is good unless you really look closely at things
    -linked to the above, they need to patch or work on the transparency for the next game or DLC update. Pokémon will pop up in grass or behind some structure in the world so that you won’t always know what Pokémon it is. The cinematic black bars in Pokémon fights occasionally obscure the health bars. Spotting small water Pokémon in the ocean and targeting them isn’t fun.
    -I still think the game needs more content. It seems a bit bland at times. Really could use just a bit more to fill out the town, or open world. Compared to some of the previous generations of Pokémon games it feels a bit light. I don’t know how I feel about the rejig of the pokedex and needing to complete everything to lv10. I heard the true ending is locked behind a few prerequisites. That seems a bit harsh and perhaps some people will miss out on that.
    -Ride Pokémon are a cool idea but I feel they don’t handle well. The bear one is awkward because there is very little use it to it later. The others are fairly useful but the Braviary is for me the worst offender in the controls. If you’re flying and see something you want to land on quickly, it’s very difficult, it has a poor turning circle. I don’t know if it’s my imagination but it seems like you’re always losing height gradually when dashing with Braviary with no way to gain height apart from landing and restarting flying. It’s a psychic bird.
    -The game is pretty well polished, I had one crash in the 30hrs and it said I’d removed the cart which I hadn’t. Development wise perhaps it could have used another 6months for final polishing or some more content though. I think for whatever reason they churned out BD/SP (why do Pokémon abbreviations always sound so..kinky) and this game within 3 months of each other is a mistake. I know one was subcontracted out but it still seems daft.
    -The Pokémon ‘boss’ battles were ok but slightly too easy. I liked some of the attack patterns but the actual idea behind them seems daft, throwing balm at them? And the final battle with Dialga didn’t even have a catching section. That was slightly underwhelming.
    I found the catching mechanic is good, but can become a bit frustrating, especially if it’s more than 1 on 1. By the time I’ve weakened and caught the Pokémon I probably have a few fainted Pokémon. I bought and used a lot more revives than other Pokémon games throughout.

    Review wise I probably put it at a solid 4.5/5. Despite a few minor flaws, I enjoyed it a lot!

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