True story: I woke up early just to get to my day job early enough that I could watch today's Pokémon Direct presented by GAME FREAK... live! And live-react to it. Unfortunately, the live-reaction log doesn't pass basic KoopaTV quality standards, so I'm going to spend much more time and effort doing a full write-up for you. Aren't you lucky?
Here's the video-on-demand of the “roughly 15 minutes of information” that's approaching 17 minutes. That means there's plenty of footage in this that is strictly uninformative. Fortunately, the additional information found on the official website makes up for this.
There's surprisingly a lot to talk about here, and I just want to remind everyone of when we first saw Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield back in February, and of the comments people made back then.
I recommend you skip ahead to exactly three minutes in to skip some bad lyrics.
New Galar Pokémon and Characters
We learned of the new professor (Professor Magnolia, old woman with a cane), her assistant (Sonia, and she gives me significantly better vibes than Lillie, who was also first described as the professor's assistant), the champion (Leon), and the rival. The rival is named Hop.
Hop sounds dangerously close to Hau. I'm not immediately repulsed by Hop like I was with Hau, but... I'm definitely suspicious of him.
I think overall the characters are a net positive versus Alola... at least by first impression. But what about Pokémon?
We were introduced to Gossifleur (pollen flower), Eldegoss (a Roselia with a giant cotton ball, the evolution of Gossifleur), Wooloo (a fluffy better-than-Mareep sheep), Corviknight (a Steel/Flying crow), and Drednaw (Water/Rock bite-happy turtle).
Let's discuss those last two. Corviknight are described as willing workers for the Galar Taxi company. That begs the question about their compensation plans and who they're displacing.
Drednaw is pretty clearly the newest member of the shelled Pokémon family, so one day I need to update the family photo made when Turtonator appeared.
|Drednaw is obviously my favourite new Pokémon here. I just need to remember to spell its name right.|
Oh, there are two more Pokémon, but their names are extremely incomprehensible. There is Zacian, the Pokémon Sword legendary (it's basically a Keldeo-coloured Amaterasu from Ōkami equipped with a Glaive); and Zamazenta, the Pokémon Shield legendary (who is also a four-legged canine-like mammal, but with a lot of armour).
I'm still naturally inclined to pick Pokémon Shield, but Zacian is obviously designed to be more interesting for people than Zamazenta. To the majority of action-oriented people, an active canine with a sword jumping around is cooler than a passive shielded canine. It's not fair, but I'll just have to promote the pro-shield message as we go along in the year, because it's an inherently pro-Koopa message.
New Galar Gameplay Mechanics
There were three notable new gameplay mechanics revealed today.
The first is the Rotom Phone. You may remember we were excited about the Rotom Pokédex three years ago. Well... that's all ruined, because Rotom is now sucked into a smartphone that has magical HM-replacing powers... and it also combines into a bike. Great. It's combining the suckiness of smartphones with the awfulness of bicycles. Rotom is dead to me and I regret dedicating E3 2016 to it.
|We're done with each other, Rotom.|
Oh no, Ash Ketchum is going to have a smartphone in the next season of the anime, isn't he?
The second mechanic is Dynamax, which involves Pokémon more-or-less discovering the Mega Mushroom power-up we have and turning enormous. Any Pokémon from the Galar region is capable of Dynamaxing, though only in certain circumstances like Pokémon Gyms (and probably person-vs-person online battles), and only if the trainer has the Dynamax Band. One Dynamax per battle, similar to limits on Mega Evolution. Once a Pokémon has Dynamaxed, all of their moves (referred to as Max Moves) become special versions based on their typing/category, similar to Z-moves. A Pokémon will only be giant for three turns. That might be enough to decimate the opponent, though. It's unknown if becoming gargantuan grants any material stat boosts or how that works, but I'm sure we'll collectively figure that out as soon as the game releases.
The last notable mechanic is the Wild Area, which is a fancy way of saying that the Pokémon now has an overworld with a customisable camera view that connects towns and cities. Based on what we saw three months ago, towns, cities, and some adjacent pathways/routes (and probably caves) are still the traditional fixed view. In other words, Pokémon is now doing what, say, Final Fantasy IX did twenty years ago. (That's my example because I'm playing it now.)
It's unclear if there are any benefits to this vast open space with a customisable camera, or GAME FREAK is just doing it because fans keep demanding it (especially after the February Direct) but they don't know how to actually use the new mechanic effectively. Maybe it'll be a giant empty space.
|There's a wild Hippopotas, but no Sand Stream in the environment. Bad gameplay-setting integration.|
Wild Pokémon will appear based on your location in the Wild Area (duh, that's been the case forever and something you control) and the weather (which seems to be random or maybe it's in patterns? I bet there'll be a weather station in the game). Sometimes, there will be a “Max Raid Battle”, a massively-multiplayer online concept (with up to four humans or you and three NPCs) where there will be a giant wild Dynamax'd Pokémon and you need to team up with the other trainers to defeat/catch it.
That's about it. The games will release on November 15, 2019. Worldwide! We may or may not have the entire game spoiled by then by The Pokémon Company International, though.
Ludwig is actually more interested in purchasing Pokémon Shield than he was 24 hours ago, so the Direct was overall a success. Did you feel the same way? Is there something Ludwig is overlooking in terms of things to talk about? Please share your thoughts in the comments section!
Drednaw gets a new form... no, not an evolution, but a Gigantamax! ...No, not a Dynamax...
The August news release brings more Rotom-in-device forms, and new rivals.