The surprise reveal of Pokémon Legends: Arceus showed off what looks like a brave new direction for the franchise that will certainly bring plenty of fresh features to the table. But with a story set in Sinnoh’s past, the question on many fans’ minds is whether Pokémon Legends: Arceus’ roster of Pokémon will include any new additions.
While Pokémon Legends: Arceus isn’t the inevitable Gen 9 Pokémon game, it does appear to be a core game in the series, as evidenced by Game Freak heading up its production. This would normally indicate new Pokémon will be introduced, but Pokémon Legends: Arceus takes place in the past of a region with an already established group of catchable creatures. Everything seen of the game so far, from the characters’ attire to the steam-powered Pokéballs, indicates its distant-past setting is going to be a huge focal point. It could be tough for Game Freak to explain why new Sinnoh Pokémon in Arceus never appeared in the original Sinnoh games, Pokémon Diamond and Pearl.
Still, the idea of new Pokémon being added can’t be completely ruled out. Pokémon Legends: Arceus’ historical setting also opens the door to an intriguing concept: ancient Pokémon variants. The core series has been leaning further and further into creating different forms for existing Pokémon, starting with X and Y‘s Mega Evolution and eventually evolving to the point of multiple regions getting their own variants of certain Pokémon.
If Galar and Alola are different enough locations to have their own variants of familiar Pokémon, then it would make sense that a Sinnoh region hundreds of years in the past would have its own variants, as well. The Sinnoh Pokédex, in its current form, is already extremely diverse, featuring classic Pokémon such as Snorlax and Alakazam, as well as Gen 4 favorites like Garchomp and Lucario. It seems unlikely that Pokémon Legends: Arceus will take the Mega Evolution route, which makes Sinnoh’s beloved Pokémon prime for new, “regional” forms and appearances. An ancient dragon variant of Garchomp seems like too good an opportunity to pass up.
Even if Pokémon Legends: Arceus ignores the possibility of ancient Pokémon variants or any other way of introducing new Pokémon, it still has a ton of potential. The game’s reveal trailer demonstrated it will likely take a more story-driven approach than fans are used to. Combined with a world potentially devoid of the usual Pokémon tropes, such as gyms and evil teams, this could deliver a Pokémon experience unlike any before. That’s not even mentioning how drastically different the gameplay appears; watching the player perform a dive-roll might have been the trailer’s most surprising moment.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus is the most exciting Pokémon announcement in some time. While it certainly seems like the opportunity to bring in ancient Pokémon or other new forms is ripe for the taking, even if Game Freak chooses not to go in that direction, fans can likely rest assured this game will provide an interesting new take on the Pokémon franchise.