We complete the first part of the Expansion Pass, which offers a sufficient amount of content to demonstrate a remarkable result.
Pokémon will not have a third edition in 2020 to expand the experience of Pokémon Sword and Shield, the editions that inaugurated the eighth generation of the saga last November on Nintendo Switch. For the first time in license history, neither sequel nor enhanced version – this time we have an Expansion Pass. This DLC is divided into two large batches: the Isle of Armor, now available, and the Snows of the Crown, which will arrive in the fall. We have completed the first part, here is our verdict.
Before we start, let’s put things in context. Upon arriving at Pueblo Par, at the train station they will give us access to this territory surrounding the island of Galar where a new challenge awaits us. There is Mostaz, a once successful Coach who lifted the title of Champion in the League no less than eighteen times. Now, retired in a dream territory, he dedicates his time to teaching martial arts in the Master Dojo. In addition to his peculiar personality, he will also be the one who introduces us to Kubfu, the legendary Pokémon protagonist of this plot, to which we can evolve Urshifu in one of its two forms.
The Island of Armor: one of the best designed territories in the saga
After our final impressions after attending a digital presentation of the Expansion Pass with The Pokémon Company, we have been able to play for about fifteen hours in this completely open territory; a second Wilderness Area that, as a base, we already anticipate is the best of the DLC: an intelligent stage design that invites us to wish for the routes of an eventual ninth generation.
Completing the main story will take us about four hours, but the truth is that there is much ahead, because as we were told at the time, the Isle of Armor focuses on offering more content, training incentives and the progress of the Trainers. In contrast, The Snows of the Crown will focus on exploration, adventure with new cooperative raids and a generous number of encounters with Legendary Pokémon. Different directions that, taken as a whole, will surely be when it can be assessed more accurately if this expanded paid content of Sword and Shield is worth it or not.
For now, let’s interpret it as a juicy appetizer. We are not going to deceive you: we were expecting something more discreet and it has left us a remarkable general flavor. Game Freak has used this new chapter within the adventures of Galar to make a sensible approach to environments by making the most of mapping. The dimensions of the Isle of Armor – which can be accessed at any time with Corviknight’s Galar Air Taxis if we have first arrived in the original Wilderness Area – are considerable; It is not necessarily larger than the natural esplanade of Galar, but it is better used, design tools have been better used to make a map with a richer variety of places than in the past; including beaches (abundant amount of aquatic territory), caves, forests, sand dunes, swamps …
Believe us, we really liked the way of interpreting forests, for the first time in the open world. Having the power to choose how to move with camera freedom directly affects the gameplay and makes it more pure, consistent with what was initially sought with the start of the eighth generation in which we are today. There are a number of aspects that do not change, however. One of them, the presence of raid points scattered throughout the habitat, as well as the bright points to find wild objects and creatures that constantly appear in each and every one of the 16 subregions into which this context is divided.
A story too short: moderate challenge
The normal thing is that we arrive at the Island of Armor with the main game already over, and that implies that we will set foot in this place with a well-trained team prepared for the challenge that awaits us. The challenge in this case is minuscule, since the automatic level balancing goes up to level 60. If we have less level, it will adapt; if the average is higher, that is the ceiling. We would have liked that, if our team was level 90 on average, the game would know how to level that level. Without going into unnecessary plot guts, we do anticipate – the Pokemon Company has already communicated this through official channels – that we will be given a Bulbasaur or Squirtle shortly after entering the Master Dojo. The choice is not trivial, but complements Charizard’s already introduced ability to reach Gigantamax status. These other two components of the initial Kanto trio – Venusaur and Blastoise – were missing, and they do so with a certain privilege.
Like Cinderace, Intelleon, and Rillaboom, Galar’s initials, these five species now have the ability to gigamaxize (Dinamax form that also alters physical appearance); with the exception that we can speed up the unlocking of this capacity thanks to the Maxisopa, thus forgetting the vagaries of randomness. And how do we get this soup? Through the search for hidden T-shirts in some of the caves. This brief approach to crafting is accompanied by the Cramobot, a machine located inside the Dojo with which we can recycle objects to combine them into a new one. We will find dozens, hundreds of them throughout the journey, so a way to amortize the portion of items that has little use is through this robotic machine. In exchange for four objects we can obtain other less common ones such as More PP. We like the result, it must stay for the future.
Kubfu, movement tutors, challenge of the 150 Diglett …
History, as we said, does not last long. It is completed in a few hours, beginning with the presentation of Galar’s Slowpoke and culminating with the task of evolution of Kubfu (we will not say how it is achieved) in Urshifu Brisco Style, of Fighting and Sinister type; o Fluid Style, Fight and Water type. Both have Invisible Fist as their ability, although while the first has the exclusive movement Dark Strike, the second does the same with Torrential Scourge. Abide by the preference of each. In both cases, an interesting creature facing raids due to its high offensive power. And no, the evolution does not depend on the version of the game you have, but on your decisions throughout the adventure.
Kubfu, the protagonist Pokémon of the DLC
Once we finish the campaign, it is where, as is usual in the main saga, the expanded experience begins. Ahead of us we expect to complete the Pokédex, with unique wild species in each subregion, collect useful objects, generate Maxisopes, learn the new attacks of the Tutor of movements in exchange for the substance Duralium, which is obtained in the raids … We also have one hundred new articles of clothing and accessories, so those who enjoy extravagant and quirky designs can dress in a thousand ways; including the costume of the Master Dojo.
Also, search for 150 Alola Diglett spread across what is actually an archipelago. An adventurer from Alola (Generation VII), a fan of Diglett, has lost this hundred and a half companions, so he asks us for help to find them. We will only have a small visual clue, which are the three characteristic hairs of his head. The reward, we assure you, is progressive with each small progress and directly affects the completion of the Pokédex. We left it there. To finish, the new style of combat: the Close Test, where the types of Pokémon that we can use in combat are restricted under a series of very specific conditions.
Pugna Towers: Tower of Waters and Tower of Shadows. Which challenge to choose depends on us.
In case you were wondering, the Pokédex Armor has a total of 211 entries; of which approximately a hundred correspond to new creatures from previous generations that were not originally in the Galar regional Pokédex. The amount is considerable and will leave us approximately two thirds of the total saga (about 900) represented in the Espada and Escudo editions once the other hundred new species arrive with Las Nieves de la Corona. Little by little, the problem of the trimmed Pokédex is diminishing at a much more agile rate than expected. In response to the question that you have asked us in different ways: is it a sufficient number of new Pokémon? The answer is yes. It is plausible to think that in 2021 or 2022, when new canonical iterations adhered to this Generation VIII are published, the completion of the National Pokédex will be completed.
Weaknesses: infrastructure problems
What could have once again been a nimble way to create raid rooms or become part of other users’ radios has become a somewhat crude system. Once upon a time, when we were wandering through the Wilderness Area, it was as simple as accessing Connection Y, establishing an Internet connection and consulting which online raids were active. If there was none, we could update the list automatically; now, however, that option has disappeared.
During the period of this Reviews, one of the most interesting was Zeraora variocolor. When creating a room, in a matter of seconds we had a team made up of a total of four willing Trainers. There, no problem. The drawback is when we want to find a foray that we are not hosting: it takes a long time, sometimes it does not find and, ultimately, matchmaking is poor. Please and hope that this situation improves, perhaps aggravated by the high volume of users playing simultaneously during these days. In any case, it does not seem justifiable and we raise our voices so that in the coming weeks a solution can be found that translates into comfort in participating in the Raids, which in the end is the only thing we want. Agility, speed and ease of access is what it takes for this mechanic to finally consolidate itself.
Nor has the rival of the plot structure of the DLC convinced us. Sófora (Sword) and Dreo (Shield) are characters with little charisma, who move away from what was seen with Paul in the original adventure. Its purpose comes more to sustain comic relief thanks to an excellent Spanish location, but they do not transcend as memorable profiles. We will not remember them over time; unlike the cool Mostaz, which de facto becomes one of the best NPCs in the entire main license.
A sound with personality: the Island of Armor speaks
Isle of Armor continues to carry the same technical and graphical issues as Pokémon Sword and Shield. Obviously, nobody should expect that in a DLC there will be improvements in this regard; Although, to be honest, there are now more natural elements on the screen (flowers, types of weeds …), we found a greater effort for detail. The collateral damages of the online infrastructure, as we mentioned previously, translate here into unexpected jerks, drops in frame rate and textures that tarnish a beautiful artistic section.
If we do not play online – therefore, the models of the characters in the room wandering around this island territory do not have to be loaded – there are no obstacles in this regard; when we are online it is very annoying. If it is already shocking in itself that trees and elements of the horizon suddenly charge in the time that we are getting closer, it is even more sensitive or appreciable at times when online connection slows down this process of dynamic generation of the environment. Again, we hope Game Freak will take note for future occasions, as it has a negative impact on the gaming experience.
Where we cannot give a single negative chord is in music. The team of Go Ichinose and Minako Adachi have signed a series of melodies to remember. They are not very numerous, but they do perfectly match the setting of these contents; especially in battles and environments, with wind instrumentalization mixed with string and some percussion. The nuance is now somewhat more dynamic and supported by electric guitars in a somewhat unexpected but consistent way. They are catchy themes, with personality and, above all, sound like Pokémon music. This is very important. Outstanding in sound level.
On the other hand, the artistic section is still just as alive, with a color contrast that we would not like to be abandoned not so much in the next chapter of the Expansion Pass, but in future main video games of the series. The visual drawbacks of Pokémon come in the graphic section, below what they should be in the current era: Nintendo Switch gives much more. At the artistic level, we insist, this is a valid style on which you can and should continue working. Similar to the overall map design – this is the way to go.
Pokémon Sword and Shield: Isle of Armor
- We have analyzed this DLC on Nintendo Switch through a download code supplied by Nintendo Spain.
- The purchase of the Expansion Pass applies to a single edition. We recommend paying attention before making the purchase to purchase the exact DLC. In our case, having Pokémon Shield we have analyzed ‘Pokémon Shield: expansion pass’.
- The price of the pass is 29.99 euros in the eShop and consists of both Isla de la Armadura and Nieves de la Corona.
Isle of Armor is a remarkable first look at what we would like an entire region of Pokémon to be in the future. Goodbye to the routes, without having to bet on giant environments that can convey a feeling of emptiness. This first half of the Expansion Pass focuses on content. It is, broadly speaking, more hours of adventure; not concerned with necessarily being better. With over a hundred new Pokémon, challenges, mechanics focused on facilitating effort-reward training and the inherent feeling that this is what we might have expected from an endgame for the original Sword and Shield editions.
The question then is clear: is it worth buying the Isle of Armor? We believe, with sincerity, that if the Wilderness Area was what you liked most about the adventure, this will more than satisfy your expectations. If you were looking for new adventures, more legendary and exploration, surely you know little. The best way to assess the Expansion Pass will be when the second DLC is available at the end of the year. At the moment, a generous appetizer of content, but without significant news: an expanded experience.
- The Design of the Isle of Armor
- A hundred new creatures from previous generations
- Music with memorable themes
- Mostaz, a real character
- Severe matchmaking problems
- Somewhat annoying graphic jerks if we play online
- The main story, short and simple