Review: Pokémon Sword & Shield

Today is a special day, because for the first time ever, it's up to Pokémon to get a DLC. Yes, a real expansion for a Pokémon game! But, how do you like this first expansion? Read it here!

Pokemon Sword and Shield brought a nice experience with some improvements. The Isle of Armor is aware of some of these improvements, and is therefore only the first of two DLC. You start the DLC very easily, as you will automatically receive a message where to go after installing the expansion. Let's take a closer look at the features for The Isle of Armor and whether they align with fan feedback!

Welcome to the Dojo!

When you go to the new island for the first time, you will be greeted by your new rival. I played Shield and got the Psychic trainer Avery. I immediately found him quite irritating and he is also the least interesting character in the entire expansion. However, once you reach the Dojo and meet Mustard, it really gets a notch better than the original game.

Mustard is also a crazy character, with a funny and upjoy personality. His wife, Honey, is a pretty well written character with a homely feel. You feel completely welcome in the Dojo. You will soon notice that the story is not the focus in The Isle of Armor. Numerous gameplay elements have been added.

After a number of tasks you get your own Kubfu, a legendary Fighting Pokémon that can evolve into Urshifu. Evolution therefore has two different fighting styles to choose from. The pacing for this storyline is pretty smooth and I never felt like it dragged on too long. This was something I sometimes had in the base game.

By the way, the Dojo is a kind of base system, which is fully upgradeable. You can get hairstylists in your Dojo, but also someone who makes soup so you can make your Pokémon Gigantamax. It's quite a grind, considering you need almost 3.5 million Watts for the latest upgrade. Those last few upgrades really exist for the hardcore players. That's cool, since it's more rewarding for the people who broke Isle of Armor and the base game.

Need more balls

It was widely known that deleting the National PokéDex was not a wanted decision. The developers let us know that this was a well-considered choice. A number of Pokémon will be added to The Isle of Armor. The next DLC will most definitely add more. However, I spent most of my time catching all the Pokémon I didn't already have!

The new regional shapes are really cool to see and once again give a new take on a well-known old Pokémon. The same goes for the Gigantamax forms of Venusaur and Blastoise. In the beginning of the expansion you can choose Bulbasaur or Squirtle. I myself chose Bulbasaur, because I normally go faster for fire or water starters. So I wasn't disappointed with the Gigantamax form down here.

The Pokémon in the wild are really cool to see. It just feels like one big Wild Area now. For example, a life-sized Wailord is swimming around the beach! There are also Dens everywhere with Raids and Max Raids. This opens up the game for more live events!

Quality of Life

Let's talk about some updates that improve the quality for us as a player. The first being, that after completing the first trials, you can finally take another Pokémon out of your Pokéball and make it run, fly or waddle behind you! This is a much requested feature for the game and I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was now possible. It gives a slightly more personal experience between you and your favorite animal. The small disadvantage, however, is that you can do this exclusively on the new island. I understand it's difficult. There is now a scrapping machine. Here you can throw in items and then you get an item back. An addition that is more than welcome and can also give rarer items!

There are new outfits, hairstyles, bike skins and so on, in case you still want to know!

Free camera? Yes!

Perhaps the best addition to The Isle of Armor is the free camera that is known from the Wild Area of the base game. This gives much more of a 3D experience than ever before. I was happy when we first heard that the entire DLC would get this. Yes, in buildings it is still the 2.5D experience, but I did not find this disturbing at all, actually quite appropriate. Let's hope all future Pokémon games will include this free camera!

The Isle of Armor is an area with many different types of areas that are all nicely developed. It also differs from the Pokémon Center/Market system from the base games. Sometimes the game is a bit blurry, but that could be due to the chosen art style for the game.

Verdict

The Isle of Armor is a cool addition to the game. The biggest downside is the short storyline and especially the lack of new features in the base game. All in all, I'm still having fun expanding my Pokédex and exploring the new features in the DLC. Anyone who owns Sword of Shield will be proudly surprised with this addition and hopefully the next expansion will be even cooler.

 

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