Announced back in the beginning of this seemingly endless year the Pokemon Sword and Shield expansion pass promised players a chance to play through 2 new sprawling locations with several new features inside of the Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra.
The first of the dlc, The Isle of Armor has been released offering players an entirely new location to find some of your favorite Pokemon just don’t expect a great story to go along with this vacation package.
Tour of the Islands
The Isle of Armor starts as you arrive to the island and meet your rival. Whichever version of Pokemon you own will determine who your rival is, you can either get the infuriatingly sneaky poison type Klara or the psychic type Avery.
Each of their respective backgrounds are fantastic if you read their league cards and definitely adds a bit more motivation and legitimacy to their character overall. Klara and Avery are incredibly sneaky, funny, and most importantly rude. I have not remembered the last time we had a rival this entertaining and mean in quite some time it’s a shame that the campaign is incredibly short.
You join a dojo led by the mysterious Master Mustard and complete his trials in order to receive the Secret Armor of the dojo. These trials include some of the most downright basic of tasks such as chasing after some speedy Slowpokes, finding Max Mushrooms in a cave, and battling your rival.
The Isles legendary Pokemon Kubfu is made available somewhere at the halfway point of the game and ties the lack of story together but using it as a way to farm and level them up in order to go through one of two towers. Kubfu is absolutely adorable and translates well from the images we’ve seen of him. Although he wears a frown at all times its easy to see when he’s emoting.
There are two towers that offer a different fighting form for Kubfus evolution Urshifu, Tower of Darkness for single strike or the Tower of Water for rapid strike. Story wise there is no difference to whichever choice you make. Once you level Kubfu up and defeat the tower you get the opportunity to fight Mustard again.
From here on the dlc’s story quickly tumbles as you find out that the story is nearly finished within 3 hours. Following the epic training montage for Kubfu Hop suddenly emerges and asks for help with traversing the island. You are then thrown into the most random escort mission I have ever seen placed in a game only to then have one last battle with a more serious Mustard.
The games story is a sad reminder that Pokemon is definitely not investing their stock in the writing department. The Isle of Armors story is so incredibly abysmal that a single paragraph on the back of a trainers league card is infinitely more interesting that the few hours quickly running errands.
Loads To Explore
That being said about the story it does do a nice job at dipping your toes slowly in the environment of the Isle of Armor albeit the pool is quite shallow compared to the Isle itself. Although you don’t get to explore it too much if you stick to the story, the Isle of Armor is an impressive playground-like expansion that offers player a much needed reprieve from the Galar region. The entire map is full of raid dens and Pokemon lounging about that there doesn’t seem to be a dull moment.
Each location is well thought out and quite beautiful to see albeit a few spots including caves which could use some tlc to make them more interesting. Quite honestly my favorite addition to Pokemon Sword is the much requested inclusion of a full sized Wailord in the ocean. I never thought I would live to see it but now it’s all that I think about(I wonder how it’s doing).
There are 200 more Pokemon returning to the series on The Isle of Armor including some fan favorites such as Squirtle and Bulbasaur who join Charmander with Dynamax capabilities. I gasped when I saw my favorite Pokemon Abra the moment I stepped off of the train. The island feels open around the edges but once you go into the center it feels massively claustrophobic with Pokemon everywhere you step. This makes the job of filling out the Pokedex a breeze with very easy spawn conditions and locations that can be easily found without having to worry about using time manipulation.
The game also includes a new closet rack of clothing for you to collect. Most of them are essentially a specific style set with different color variant so unless you’re not trying to look like Pierce or aching to wear a 3 piece Gucci suit there isn’t much creativity to this expansions style.
If you aren’t looking around for Pokemon or completing trials for Mustard might I recommend farming watts for his wife Honey using a new way to earn it. Similar to that of the two brothers in the Galar region that offer you their services to dig for loot there are two characters in the Isle of Armor that offer a new rare item Armorite Ore. The female character offers you a gamble as you ultimately decide when she should stop digging for ore as she can break her shovel at any time.
Once you gather enough ore you can speak to the male npc to have him dig for watts. In each of my attempts I happened to strike it big and make roughly 1 million watts by my 3rd encounter with him. Donating the watts to Honey gives you more access around the dojo to a pc, vending machines, harder to find items, and a few secrets as well. It’s some hearty farming that definitely pays off in the long run.
Gotta Catch Them All
The best addition to this game is the Diglett infestation on the Isle of Armor. The story being someone happened to bring a few Digletts back from the Alola region and since then the island has become overrun with them, 151 to be precise. This is similar to that of the Korok Seed scavenger hunt in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild although the prize is better than Hestu’s “Gift”. After you catch a reasonable amount of the Digletts you can check in with the man to see how many you’ve caught and after catching a hefty amount he offers you Alolan forms of Pokemon.
I caught all 151 Digletts in around 2 hours of thorough hunting and I’ve got to say it was time well spent. Sure, I really wish it were easier to find the final few that are creeping around in each area but all in all I think the rewards actually made the hunting seem justified which is quite a rare occurrence.
Pokemon Sword and Shield: The Isle of Armor is a short and sweet first expansion that offers players a quite generous amount of post game content including 200 new additions to the Pokedex, new Dynamax forms, a new base, new rivals, and in general more to do. The island is as expansive as I hoped with a plethora of things to do to tide me over until The Crown Tundra is released.
Unlike the island itself the story is quite shallow and the only real takeaway from it are the incredibly fun characters you meet along the way.
Adding a Diglett hunt and a new way to use watts to farm items is a genius step forward for the Galar region and for the price of $15 this is a must buy for any Pokemon fan looking for more bang for their buck.
Nuke The Fridge Score: 8/10