I’m going to begin by saying that I loved Pokémon Sword & Shield. It was a great way to bring a main series Pokémon game to the Nintendo Switch, and had lots of new game-play features that made it a joy, and some of the coolest new Pokémon designs in years. So when it was announced that Pokémon were scrapping their ‘third’ in the generation game and choosing to release DLC instead I was really happy. No longer would Pokémon fans have to pay for a whole new game for some minor changes and add-ons.
The Isle of Armor is the first of these new downloadable contents, with The Crown Tundra set to come out later this year. As this is not only the first DLC for this generation, but the first ever, there was a lot of pressure on it to be good, and whilst it might not be perfect, it’s certainly a load of fun.
As soon as you receive the Armour Pass you’re able to travel to this brand new area, an expansive open world island off the main coast of Galar. The island, and the waters around it, are open for players to explore straight away, and you can ignore the story elements in favour of travelling around the island. The island itself is much like the Wild Area in the main game, although it’s split up into about a dozen different zones, each of which has its own look and feel, and contains its own Pokémon. You can travel into deep caves, explore dark forests, or run around the beach. The island isn’t massive by any means, but the different zones help to increase the scope of the place, and it can make travelling around much more interesting than the regular Wild Area.
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The DLC isn’t just a new open area to explore, however, as players also get a new story to experience. As soon as you arrive on the island you’ll have to fight a new rival, who will vary depending on which version of the game you have. After this you’ll be able to travel to the island fighting dojo, where you can enrol as a student. After being sent out on a few missions that will have you going around the island, you’ll be rewarded with a brand new Pokémon, Cubfu. After this, you get to bond and train with the new Pokémon, and will have to take on one of two challenge towers to get it to evolve into its final form.
The story isn’t very long, and you can get through it in a few hours, but the game manages to provide enough side quests and tasks to keep you interested, and you can even keep on improving the dojo after finishing the main tasks, which will require you to spend a lot of time acquiring watts to donate.
But let’s be honest, the story probably isn’t what’s drawn a lot of people to the DLC in the first place. It’s the Pokémon themselves. Whilst Cubfu and its evolution are the only new Pokémon currently available (we’re still waiting on new about the new mythic Pokémon Zarude to be released) there is the inclusion of the new Galarian forms of both Slowpoke and Slowbro. Alongside these new additions there are around 100 returning Pokémon who weren’t in the main game. Yes, I know that they’re older creatures who most fans will already have in Pokémon Home, but seeing Scyther, Rockruff, and Shinx running around in the overworld genuinely brought a smile to my face.
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The Isle of Armor isn’t a big DLC if you’re coming to the game looking for additions to the story or new Pokémon, but for fans of the franchise it’s a lot of fun. There’s a huge new area to explore, favourite old Pokémon make a return, and there are some fun side-quests and missions to complete. We also get to have our own Pokémon follow us around in the game again, which has been something that always makes fans happy. What we know of the next DLC seems to indicate that that one will be a little bigger, if simply for bringing in new Pokémon and new versions of older ones, so I’m definitely excited to see that one, but the Isle of Armor is easily going to keep me entertained until then.