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Pokémon Legends Arceus release date, trailer, starters and news

Pokémon Legends Arceus
(Image credit: Nintendo)

Pokémon Legends: Arceus is the highly-anticipated open-world Pokémon RPG, revealed during February 2021's Pokémon Presents live stream, which celebrated 25 years of the Pokémon franchise.

Announced alongside Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl (remakes of the revered Nintendo DS titles), it looks like Pokémon Legends: Arceus is going to be the game that breaks new ground for the series, with a historical setting and an explorable open world.

Confirmed for Nintendo Switch, Pokémon Legends: Arceus will act as a prequel to the main series, taking players to a much older version of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl’s Sinnoh region, where Pokémon roamed freely, and they'll be charged with completing one of the region's first Pokédexes. 

Pokémon Legends: Arceus is scheduled to launch worldwide on January 28, 2022 but in the meantime, we've gathered together everything we know about the game right here for your perusal. 

Pokémon Legends Arceus: cut to the chase

  • What is it? A new Pokémon game separate from the mainline series 
  • When can I buy it? January 28, 2022
  • What can I play it on? Nintendo Switch

Pokemon Legends Arceus release date

Pokémon Legends Arceus

The landscapes are a definite step-up from Pokémon Sword and Shield. (Image credit: Nintendo)

Pokémon Legends Arceus will release on January 28, 2022, for Nintendo Switch. The Pokémon Company revealed the new Pokémon game's release date with a tweet back in May, 2021. Pre-orders are live now.

Pokémon Legends Arceus trailer

Reveal trailer
Pokémon Legends Arceus was arguably the biggest news from the Pokémon Presents showcase, where it debuted alongside a trailer showing off some early in-engine gameplay.

Pokémon Legends Arceus gameplay and setting

Pokémon Legends: Arceus

Bidoof confirmed. We love to see it! (Image credit: Game Freak / The Pokémon Company)

Pokémon Legends Arceus returns players to the Sinnoh region, albeit in a time long before the events of any mainline Pokémon game. The game evokes a historical Japanese setting, evident in its artwork, landscapes and character designs.

Pokémon Legends Arceus looks quite unlike any other effort we’ve seen so far in the series, and looks to expand on open-world elements found in Pokémon Sword and Shield. Those games featured a pretty scaled back open-world element, the Wild Area, which felt a little tacked on, like a separate entity to the rest of the game world.

In Pokémon Legends Arceus, it appears that the scope of the open world is far greater. The trailer introduces us to what looks like a hub town, surrounded by a wider Sinnoh that can be explored.

Stealth elements could play a role in Pokémon Legends Arceus. In the trailer, we see our character not only throw Pokéballs from great distances, but also perform a dodge roll and hide in tall grass. This could be used as a means to stay hidden from particularly skittish Pokémon, or perhaps certain Pokémon will also pose a danger to humans.

Curiously, players won’t have to enter a battle in order to catch Pokémon. This is now done more fluidly via the open world, where players can attempt to sneak up on Pokémon, then aim and throw Pokéballs at them for a catch. Whether or not we can still catch Pokémon via battles remains to be seen, though.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus

Battles appear to be more seamless than ever before (Image credit: Game Freak / The Pokémon Company)

Speaking of battling, that element of the series is retained in Pokémon Legends Arceus, featuring the familiar turn-based gameplay. Animations seem to be more theatrical and improved across the board, perhaps in response to a criticism often leveled at Pokémon Sword and Shield where battle animations were somewhat tepid.

By throwing Pokéballs containing your partner Pokémon near a wild one, you're able to seamlessly transition into battle, according to the game's website. This might make the game take an approach similar to that seen in the Pokémon anime series, and definitely has our interest piqued.

Pokémon games usually get you going with one ‘starter’ Pokémon at the outset of your journey, and that’s no different in Pokémon Legends Arceus. What is different, though, is that the three Pokémon on offer this time are all from separate generations. They are Cyndaquil (Gen 2), Oshawott (Gen 5) and Rowlet (Gen 7), representing the usual Fire, Water and Grass types respectively.

Pokémon Legends Arceus: Pokémon confirmed so far

Pokémon Legends Arceus

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Pokémon Legends: Arceus will task players with filling one of the region's first Pokédexes so it's natural to wonder which Pokémon we're going to be chasing down in the game. There's no comprehensive official list just yet but thanks to our friends at GamesRadar, we do have a list of the twenty Pokémon that appeared in the game's announcement trailer.  

  • Pikachu
  • Rhyhorn
  • Cyndaquil
  • Spheal
  • Turtwig
  • Chimchar
  • Piplup
  • Starly
  • Bidoof
  • Shinx
  • Budew
  • Chingling
  • Bronzor
  • Garchomp
  • Riolu
  • Lucario
  • Gallade
  • Arceus
  • Oshawott
  • Rowlet

So, 20 so far! Given the game is set in the Sinnoh region, it's not entirely surprising that there are a lot of Generation 4 Pokémon in that list and it seems reasonable to assume that their evolutionary forms will also probably be present in the game. 

We expect that in the run-up to the game's release, Nintendo and Game Freak will confirm more of the Pokémon that we can expect to see in Pokémon Legends: Arceus so we'll keep updating this list as and when they're revealed.

Pokémon Legends Arceus: news and rumors

Pokémon Legends Arceus

(Image credit: Nintendo)

E3 2021
Unfortunately, we didn't hear more about Pokémon Legends Arceus at Nintendo's E3 2021 showcase but we're hoping to hear more about Arceus in the coming months.

Pokémon Legends Arceus: what we’d like to see

Pokémon Legends Arceus

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Pokémon Legends Arceus is already being compared to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and not without good reason. The surrounding landscapes and horizons look like they’ll offer the time-old adage of ‘if you see it, you can go there’.

It would be awesome to have an open world in Pokémon Legends Arceus as ambitious as that. We’re not asking for a 1:1 recreation of Hyrule, but extra traversal options like being able to climb mountains, fly through the air atop certain Pokémon or fully explore hidden nooks and crannies sounds very appealing indeed.

Pokémon Legends: Arceus

We definitely want to find out what's all the way back there (Image credit: Game Freak / The Pokémon Company)

If Pokémon Sword and Shield got one thing right, it was its eclectic bunch of superbly written characters. We’d love to see this trend continue in Pokémon Legends Arceus, especially when the historical setting could provide all sorts of fun characters and archetypes.

Earlier we mentioned that recent Pokémon games’ animation quality has been lacking, particularly when it comes to Pokémon battles. That’s because the same animations have been consistently reused since the first true 3D entry in the mainline series, Pokémon X and Y.

While we know it’s important to many fans that the National Dex (the complete roster of Pokémon across all generations) be represented again in some way, we think it could be equally beneficial to feature a scaled-back roster of Pokémon with a greater variety of revamped animations.

Touching a bit more on that, it’s possible that given the time period in which Pokémon Legends Arceus takes place, it’s possible that certain Pokémon might not even exist yet. This makes Pokémon Legends Arceus a prime testing ground for Game Freak to really wow us with improvements to animation quality across the board, particularly if there are fewer Pokémon overall to work with.