Road to E3: Pokémon Makes the Switch
Published by Taylor Ivings June 5, 2018
Pokémon is getting ready for its major Switch debut this year, but what do we want from the core series?
E3 2018 - one of the world's biggest gaming expos - gets underway on 12 June in Los Angeles, California and runs for three days. Nintendo is keeping its cards close to its chest this year, but that won't stop us speculating about which other games could show up at E3. In this article, Taylor Ivings takes a look at what he'd love to see in next year's core Pokémon title for Nintendo Switch, and looks at the surprise announcement of Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee!, which launch on 16 November.
With the Nintendo Switch just coming out of an incredible first year, everyone is looking towards the video game giant to see what they will finally reveal at E3. We know that Nintendo will mostly be talking about games coming out later in 2018, and with the tease of a Pokémon game from last year's E3, rumours have been making the rounds in full force. Even though Nintendo and The Pokémon Company have recently preferred to reveal mainline Pokémon games during designated Pokémon Direct presentations, that all changed last week with a sudden press conference in Tokyo announcing a spate of new Pokémon games: Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee! for Nintendo Switch; versions of Pokémon Quest for Nintendo Switch and smart devices; and the series' next core RPG, coming to Nintendo Switch in the second half of 2019.
Coming off the success of Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, we're thrilled at the idea of Game Freak finally developing mainline Pokémon games for a home console. We don't know if Genius Sonority will be involved - their last entry in the series was Pokémon Battle Revolution in 2007 - but whether they're involved with the development or not, we're over-the-moon excited for whatever the end result will be.
Let the adventurers adventure
Game Freak has done a wonderful job with the growth of the series over the recent years. The jump between Pokémon X and Y to Pokémon Sun and Moon was fairly substantial, given that both sets of games were on the same handheld. Game Freak needs to continue that level of improvement and utilize what the Nintendo Switch has to offer, and give us something we have never seen from a core Pokémon game. Expand what was brought to Sun and Moon and make it larger. It's time for Pokémon to make the jump that a lot of RPGs have made: an open-world concept.
We all know the main concept of the game is to go adventuring with your newly acquired Pokémon, but adventure loses excitement when you really only have one direction to go. Giving players the ability to explore and get lost gives the players something that has always been lacking from Pokémon: an actual sense of adventure. Sure, each new region is different from the last, but at the end of the day the regions have always been rather linear due to the nature of the games. Make the world larger than ever, provide only a basic world map, and let players find their way with direction signs and by talking to people. Give the game some character and make use of the Nintendo Switch's power.
Show us Pokémon living in and interacting with their world; herds of Tauros running across a field, or Magikarp attempting to swim up a rushing waterfall. Utilize the various habitats and show long-time followers of the series what we've been imagining for 20 years. Make the small towns have more than just two buildings, and make the cities crowded and busy. Remove gyms from bigger cities and move them to more rustic areas - make the player work for those badges. Most importantly, give us the wonderful feature that Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver made us fall in love with - have our Pokémon follow us around! Adventuring with a friend is always better than adventuring alone.
Interacting with others
Since the series' transition to Nintendo 3DS, the games' online functionality has often been welcomed as smooth, simple, and enjoyable. Battles are easy to set up, and the Global Trade Station and the Festival Plaza have taken away so many headaches when trying to set up trades with someone. That being said, there are always ways to improve on an already great system. With Nintendo finally releasing a paid online service, we're expecting some pretty big additions from Game Freak.
It's hard to say whether this would work better as an online mode or as post-story content, but becoming a gym leader and creating your own gym is a feature we've been waiting to see since we first played Pokémon Red and Blue. If this feature was online, it would prove to be more of a challenge battling real people as opposed to AI - people love competition, after all. We'd also love to see even more online tournaments - friendly and competitive - and more fun prizes such as rare items or unique Pokémon would be a great incentive to participate.
Back where it all began
Kanto is where long-time players first began their adventures back in the late 1990s, and we haven't gone back to the region - or to Johto - since HeartGold and SoulSilver launched in 2009. Fans are currently clamoring for a return to Sinnoh, not seen since 2007, but it's not clear how likely that is with Game Freak confirming that Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon will be the last mainline games for the 3DS. We will, however, be going back to Kanto when Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! launch this November, which is an excellent idea; it gives veterans a high-definition nostalgia trip of a lifetime, while younger and newer players will get to see what made Pokémon special in the first place.
It's also an incredibly smart move from a development perspective. Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS are both home to two generations of Pokémon games; DS to the fourth and fifth, and 3DS to the sixth and seventh. There's no denying that the fifth and seventh generations have in common significant expansion upon their predecessors; Pokémon Black and White (and their sequels) were a huge step up from Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, while the same can be said of Sun and Moon when compared to X and Y. It's clear that the Let's Go! games are designed to be simpler and more casual, which makes it completely acceptable if they don't particularly use everything the Switch has to offer - especially because it gives Game Freak the experience and knowledge of the system to massively push the boat out for the series' next core entry, which comes to the Switch late next year.
Enough is enough
There are a lot of Pokémon - 807, to be exact - which gives players a huge amount of freedom and choices to make when creating a team of six. The series' eighth generation - or, at least, the continuation of its seventh - should focus on reinventing the games and creating something that's amazing for both old players and new. We're perfectly okay with skipping out on the next generation's version of Pidgey if we get an amazing, unique game.
Pokémon always has a special place in our hearts, and often shows the wonderful world of RPGs to the younger generation, as the series has always been easily accessible. These are only a few suggestions that we would love to see for next year's highly anticipated core RPG, which is surely something to be hugely excited about. In the meantime, we can't wait to learn more about the Let's Go! games - and with them playable at E3 next week, it shouldn't be too long before we do.