Game Freak’s first foray into a semi-open world Pokémon game is pretty good. In a way, it’s frightening. How do I know? Partly because I and a few other players were hooked right away Pokémon Legends: Arceus‘ first area and wasted hour after hour doing tons of stuff without even thinking about what lay beyond. It’s like Dragon Age: Inquisition‘s Hinterlands, except it doesn’t suck.
I thought only I spent my first 10 hours in it Pokémon Legends: Arceus They slog back and forth across the vast Obsidian Fieldlands, exploring, fighting, conquering and running terrifyingly overpowered Alpha Pokémon. Not so! My editor confirmed that she spent even more time there. And we are not alone either. Social media is full of people who have taken their time and squeezed out every last drop Arceus as they walk.
“I was there for 25 hours and my Dex level was 4 or 5,” said one player who goes to DigiAtlas Kotaku. You’ve played a total of over 60 hours at this point and still haven’t progressed Arceus“Third area. “That was basically my entire playstyle for the entire game. I get to an area (on my own or through story progression) and scour it looking for rare Pokemon, level up my galaxy team, etc.
“I’ll take my time,” said another player, who goes by thebrokenbirdy. “I’m still on the first map, exploring the world. It’s so refreshing to experience a world where Pokémon feel like actual living creatures that you have to respect, rather than annoying spawns that you slaughter to level up.”
One of the big selling points for Arceus was the fact that you can walk around an open field and bump into the wilderness Pokémon just like the players of the decades-old series have always dreamed of. A less discussed aspect of the game, but one that is no less important, is how it turns this simple experience into an incredibly satisfying grind. One that kept players engaged without burning them out.
“25 hours and I only have 63 registered Pokemon in the Obsidian Field lands!” wrote user fakeDABOMB101 on the Pokemon subreddit. “I’m still in the Obsidian Fields lol I feel like I’m going really slow compared to everyone else. Ultimately, this approach has been fun since I’ve spent a lot of time on the Dex with almost every Pokemon I’ve caught so far.”
Unlike the previous one Pokémon Games where you work on a pre-programmed Pokédex, in Arceus You fill out the very first Dex from scratch, which means you’ll have to engage with the same Pokemon dozens of times before you can max out its individual entry. That means you’re not just collecting one-and-done or just grinding for XP. These data-gathering efforts will earn you money and also increase your Galaxy Team Ranks, which in turn will unlock recipes for new items to aid in your research. The end result is a satisfying progression loop that is ultimately still in service Arceus‘ Main Attraction: Helps you discover, catch and learn more about new Pokémon. Mr. Mime has been on the show since the beginning, but the players have never been I’ve seen him like this before.
That’s at least one of my theories as to why players don’t feel the need to rush through the game’s main story like they have in the past Pokémon games. It also helps that the Obsidian Fieldlands themselves are so vast and diverse, with a surprisingly diverse array of rare and popular Pokemon to hunt. There are over 60 different varieties this breed that ranges from Bidoof to Togekiss. There are small Pokémon and large Pokémon, alpha versions and shiny versions. Some spawn during the day and others only come out at night. And then there are the distortion fields, which change things up even further.
It’s the opposite of Open world filler we’ve gotten so used to some games. No wonder it keeps players busy.