The upcoming Let’s Go duo might not be traditional Pokemon games, but there’s still cause to be excited for fans of the series.
Pokemon Let’s Go, Pikachu! Eevee! might not be the traditional mainline Switch Pokemon RPGs we all have been waiting for – that comes next year – but in spite of all the changes it’s making, it’s looking at the very least like a decent stopgap until Generation 8 finally arrives. Sure, there’s some cause for concern, and many of the decisions being taken by Game Freak here likely won’t sit well with veteran fans of the series, but being able to see Kanto recreated in proper 3D is still an exciting prospect. In this feature, we’re going to look at the fifteen most major talking points from Pokemon Let’s Go. Without further ado, let’s begin.
INTENDED FOR (EVEN) YOUNGER AUDIENCES
We know what you’re thinking- it’s not like Pokemon is ever not intended for younger audiences. That it’s meant to be a kid-friendly experience is the core premise of the entire series. But Pokemon games always have great depth, and mechanics that inform the experience in more ways than they seem to at first glance. You can still play and enjoy a Pokemon game without ever having to dig too deep into these mechanics, but for those who wish to go all-in, they have that option. Pokemon Let’s Go, however, is removing most of those mechanics, and aiming to be an even more accessible, pick up and play experience. For the next few points, we’re going to be talking about some of the most major things that are being removed to that end.
REVAMPED WILD ENCOUNTERS
This is the big one, of course. Gotta Catch ’em All is the war cry of all Pokemon fans, and that’s still the central premise in Let’s Go. But catching all the critters in Kanto is going to be a very different experience. Inspired by Pokemon GO’s take on the formula, Let’s Go is going to ditch wild battles entirely. That happens in two major ways- first off, there are no more random encounters. All wild Pokemon will appear in the overworld, which means you can see exactly what kinds of Pokemon there are in the area around you, and that you won’t be barraged by endless hordes of Zubats every freaking time you go into Mt. Moon.
The second way Pokemon Let’s Go is changing wild Pokemon encounters is- you no longer battle Pokemon. After you initiate an encounter with a wild Pokemon, you no longer throw out your own Pokemon to whittle down their HP to a level where they’re weak enough to be caught successfully. No, instead, the game uses the system used in Pokemon GO, where you have the option to either throw berries at Pokemon, or throw Pokeballs at them. Throwing Pokeballs can be done through buttons, of course, but it can also be done through motion controls, to mimic how the same was done by flicking the touchscreen in Pokemon GO. If you want the feeling of being a real trainer throwing Pokeballs, there’s going to be a Pokeball controller that you can purchase. If you’re not too keen on spending extra money, you can just use your Joycons. Also, as far as the Legendaries are concerned, this doesn’t apply- those wild Pokemon you will still battle.
In an effort to make Pokemon more accessible and even more kid-friendly, Let’s Go is changing how it approaches gyms as well. Essentially, each gym now has certain requirements that you have to meet, such as being at a certain minimum level, or having a certain type of Pokemon in your party. The end result is probably going to be that you will no longer be walking into a gym unless you’re prepared to take it on. Given how toothless Pokemon games have already been over the last few years even without such restrictions in place, such measures to tone down the difficulty even further are slightly worrying, to say the least.
NO MORE BREEDING
Ask any veteran Pokemon fanatic what the most important mechanics to the larger Pokemon metagame are, and without a doubt, they’ll mention breeding. It’s a surprisingly deep and complex mechanic that has been in the series for ages, and one that countless competitive players make use of to literally craft their perfect Pokemon. In Pokemon Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Eevee! they’re not going to be able to do that, because there is no breeding in them.
NO HELD ITEMS OR ABILITIES
Of course, Pokemon Abilities often go hand in hand with breeding, but even those who do not engage with the breeding mechanic all too much can understand how important a Pokemon’s Ability, which can determine so much about your Pokemon’s strengths and weaknesses, is. Abilities are also out. No more Abilities. What else is out? Held items. As a very, very basic example, you could have your Pokemon hold certain berries, that they would automatically consume in battles for any number of effects, such as curing status ailments, or recovering a certain amount of health. Well- no more. Not in Let’s Go.
EV training is yet another mechanic in Pokemon games that you can practically ignore entirely and not be affected by, but if you do get into it, you realize just how incredibly useful and important it can be. Veteran Pokemon fans utilize EV training to shape specific stats of their Pokemon, and on the competitive scene, EV training is one of the most important things in the entire series. However EVs, or Effort Values, are changing quite significantly in Let’s Go. Earlier, you used to get EVs corresponding to one of the stats from each Pokemon you beat. Four of each EV added to +1 for that stat. So in the past EVs, were gathered by battling Pokemon. Now, you EV train your Pokemon by feeding them Candies, which you get from catching wild Pokemon. If you’ve never bothered with EV training, you probably won’t care about any of this. If you have, however, this won’t sit well with you. That said, it does make it more streamlined in a way, and puts the focus squarely on catching Pokemon instead of battling them, which seems to be in line with the game in general.
POKEMON IN THE OVERWORLD
Just as it was in Pokemon Yellow, where your Pikachu would always follow you around in the overworld, your Pikachu or your Eevee in Pokemon Let’s Go (depending on which version you’re playing), won’t stay inside their Pokeballs. Instead, they’ll always be visible in the overworld, sitting on your shoulders. Additionally, whichever Pokemon is at the top of your party will follow you around in the overworld, similar to HeartGold and SoulSilver. You can also ride certain Pokemon, which is reminiscent of Pokemon Sun and Moon.
ALL ORIGINAL 151 POKEMON INCLUDED
Being remakes (or re-imaginings, at the very least) of the original Pokemon Red and Blue, one of the most frequently asked questions about Let’s Go has been- what Pokemon will it have? All original 151 Kanto Pokemon species will be included in Pokemon Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! Additionally, Mega Evolutions of Kanto Pokemon from Pokemon X and Y, as well as from Pokemon OmegaRuby and AlphaSapphire will also be included, while Alolan versions of Kanto Pokemon as seen in Pokemon Sun and Moon will also be featured. Players can also transfer Kanto Pokemon that they catch in Pokemon GO to Pokemon Let’s Go. So if you’re a Kanto purist, Let’s Go’s probably got you covered.
Post game is quite important in every Pokemon game, and this is one area where Let’s Go won’t be holding back. Master Trainers will serve as the bulk of Let’s Go’s post-game activities. There are 151 Master Trainers in the game in total, one for each variety of Kanto’s Pokemon. Each trainer will be the ultimate trainer of their corresponding Pokemon. So, for example, you will train with your Pikachu, then take on the Pikachu Master Trainer, and if you beat that trainer, you’ll receive the title of the Pikachu title. Beat all 151 to become the ultimate Pokemon Master. So now, not only do you have to catch them all, you also have to beat them all, which, frankly, is quite an exciting prospect.
Pokemon Let’s Go might be focusing on the original 151 Pokemon from Kanto, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t going to be anything new to see. Meltan, a brand new Pokemon from the yet-to-come eighth generation, is also going to be included in the game. The steel type Mythical Pokemon Meltan first debuted in Pokemon GO, but for those unfamiliar with or uncaring about the series’ foray into mobile gaming, this is going to be Meltan’s proper introduction in a Pokemon RPG.
JESSE AND JAMES
Any self-respecting Pokemon fan who’s watched even a little bit of the anime is familiar with these two. Jesse and James, the Team Rocket Duo that always seems to be blasting off again, have been a permanent fixture in the Pokemon anime for as long as it has existed. As remakes of the original games, Let’s Go will once again have Team Rocket as its primary antagonistic organization, and this time, Jesse and James are also going to be joining the party.
Pokemon Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! will also feature local co-op multiplayer options. At any time, a second player can join the game by shaking the second Joy-Con controller. Once a second player joins the game, trainer battles are no longer regular fights, and instead turn into two versus one fights, with each player controlling a Pokemon in the battle. During wild Pokemon encounters, each trainer can throw berries and Pokeballs at the wild Pokemon.
Given the fact that things such as breeding, Abilities, and EV training aren’t going to be in Pokemon Let’s Go, it goes without saying that competitive battling isn’t going to be as much of a focus. There will, however, still be online battling and trading for players to participate in. To do so, however, players will need to have a subscription of Nintendo Switch Online- which pretty much goes without saying for most online games on the Switch now.
NO CLOUD SAVES
Nintendo Switch Online subscriptions also let you backup your games’ sava data in the Cloud, but Nintendo has made the decision that for certain games, this feature won’t be enabled. One of those games is Pokemon Let’s Go. Why? Well, because if you trade your Pokemon and have a cloud backup of a save where that Pokemon was still with you, you can always recover that save file, and essentially “cheat” your way into having a full Pokedex. This is essentially also the reason why mainline Pokemon games only allow one save per cartridge, so it makes at least a little bit of sense.