Pokemon’s newest title, Sword and Shield, met its release with both controversy and mixed reviews. Weighing personal experience of Sword and Shield against its criticism, I found the game genuinely enjoyable and captive of my attention throughout. Unfortunately, the post-game content was ‘meh’ at best, as it lacked any sort of depth. Luckily, downloadable content (DLC) is now available, for the first time, in the form of a two-part expansion pass: The Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra (Fall 2020). With players venturing into the Isle of Armor to continue on their Pokemon journey, many have voiced their displeasure online with the surprising length. We find ourselves asking: is this DLC worth the $30 price tag?
Within this DLC, trainers begin with boarding a train, followed by a flight to a new island. Here, they confront a new rival, discover new Pokemon to fill up their Pokedex, and embark on a martial arts-themed quest - accompanied by Kubfu, a brand-new legendary Pokemon. Beyond this, trainers are introduced to unique characters, unlock new gigantamax forms, and new clothing lines. One particularly interesting addition is a mini-quest where players explore every corner of the island to find 150 Alolan Digletts. But even with the DLC’s story and content to unlock, players are reporting completion times between two and four hours of gameplay.
In response, fans are collectively shocked at the length it took to complete the first expansion, calling out the developers online. Make no mistake, I am in agreement with how quick it took for me to complete everything as well - however, the experience held my attention the entire time, like the main campaign, even if it wasn’t groundbreaking. Despite criticism, the fact that the DLC seems to address a multitude of issues Pokemon fans had with the main game is a step in the right direction.
Gamefreak, overall, has kept to the same core format for years, and as players, we have not seen much innovation in terms of gameplay that is revolutionary. Although, the introduction of the “wild area” within Pokemon Sword and Shield game the landscape more of an open-world than we have ever seen before. This is where the DLC, in my opinion, really shines! The entire island is a continuous, expansive, and open area to explore without the added hindrance of loading screens. This gives a real glimpse into what the future of the world of Pokemon could become, and it is exciting!
IS IT WORTH BUYING?
This is the question you’ve been asking yourself: is the Pokemon expansion pass worth spending $30, right now? Truthfully, it boils down to the priorities and value hierarchy you look for in a gaming experience. For me, Pokemon has always been a carefree world, of sorts, where you could progress at your own pace and play the way you like. The stories have never been deep, and the gameplay for me revolves around the experience. So if you have friends to play the game with, are more interested in the game content/depth/overall experience versus the nature of its length, or just a dedicated fan of the series, then I urge purchasing the expansion pass! On the other hand, if you place value on the amount of time you will get out of this expansion, thus far, I can say with confidence you’re not missing out on anything major at this moment.
The second half, The Crown Tundra, is scheduled to launch in the fall of 2020.