Soapbox features enable our individual writers to voice their own opinions on hot topics, opinions that may not necessarily be the voice of the site. In today's article, staff writer Ryan explores the new approach to gameplay found in the upcoming Pokémon games and why they might just be the moment of relief the series desperately needs...
So, Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! have finally been officially unveiled and the response from fans has been unsurprisingly mixed. Seemingly acting as an exact middle ground between the mainline entries to the series and Pokémon GO, these new titles look set to provide a very different experience to what the core series fans will be used to by now, and one that definitely appears to lean towards the more ‘casual’ style of gameplay.
I realise that these next few words will cause irreversible outrage among some fans, but I think that this approach is exactly the kind of breather the series desperately needs. Recent games (yes Pokémon Sun and Moon, I’m talking about you) have started to become ridiculously complex - the avalanche of Ultra Beasts, different forms, 800+ character Pokédex, IV training, and more abilities and movesets than you can shake a Sudowoodo at have become sadly off-putting over time – and I dread to think how series newcomers must feel when they realise what they’ve gotten themselves into.
As much as my younger self used to love the depth and detail of each new release (I even made sure to have a complete living Pokédex for each generation) a mixture of slowly becoming an adult with those pesky responsibilities, and a natural decrease in general gaming time, means that I no longer have the effort or desire to keep up with these time sinks. I don’t think I’m alone in this, either; the increase in popularity of quick, 15-minute bursts of portable gaming makes sense when you think about how fast-paced the world around us feels these days.
Back to the games themselves, these new Let’s Go titles are positively oozing with the idea of simplicity; anyone can pick up and play, catching Pokémon is as laid back as it is in Pokémon GO, and having the monsters roaming around on screen removes the tedious walking back and forth needed to find that wild Ponyta you’ve been after for decades. The best thing about GO, for me at least, is how it sits in your pocket, happily chilling until you feel like having a quick go, and these games appear to take that vibe and apply it to a much more gamer-focused setup.
The thing is, despite this shift to an easier way of playing, it still looks to be full of the charm and magic we’ve come to know and love. The nostalgia of that almost over-loved first generation should win over the series’ older fans (at least to some extent), and the easy-to-pick-up approach should enable newer and younger players to have fun (which is what gaming is supposed to be about, after all). The only people I can imagine being genuinely put off by this are those who play competitively, or those who invest their time into the deeper underworld of the series’ breeding and training, but there are plenty of other Pokémon games still out there that can provide all of that and more.
For me, Pokémon has always been about completing my Pokédex and beating the main story, feeling an immense amount of pride as that cute little Caterpie I once had stands strong against the Elite Four as a beautiful Butterfree. These games can give me that same sense of adventure, but on a less daunting, less demanding, and much more relaxed scale. As I’ve evolved through childhood, my teenage years, and now into the beginnings of a new chapter, I’ve started to place much more value in the simple things that can make me have fun and be happy, and these games may be able to do just that.
Of course, I’m not saying that I want Pokémon to fully transition to this style of play forever – there are plenty of benefits that come as a result of the more traditional approach to the series, and I’d want every Pokémon fan to feel like they have something they can enjoy. Luckily, the next entry looks set to return to those formalities, and I’d love to see a world where the two styles happily coexist, allowing players to pick the style most appropriate for them.
Maybe it’s just me, but seeing Pokémon wandering around an open-style world, having a Pikachu sitting on my shoulder, and pretending to throw a real-life Poké Ball at my favourite creatures on my TV, is the kind of game I would have dreamt about as a kid. It doesn’t have to become the norm for the series – and it likely won’t – but these new games could well be the perfect filler until the next one arrives in 2019. Bring on November.
So what do you think about the blend of gameplay styles found in Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee!? Do you think it could work nicely, or are you upset with the new direction? Make sure to share your thoughts in the comments.