I play games to have fun. That’s why I have a bone to pick with Pokémon Legends: Arceus and its tedious quests.
After a long day at work, there’s nothing I enjoy more than logging off of Slack and pulling out my Nintendo Switch, or hopping into chill Flex Queue lobbies with friends in League of Legends. I like starting my favorite playlist, or maybe even listening to something new if I’m feeling particularly daring, and slumping back in my chair for a few hours before getting ready to do it all over again the next day. Maybe there are a few dishes waiting in the sink or I need to marinate the chicken for tomorrow, but there’s no better feeling than completely disconnecting from responsibilities for at least a couple of hours after clocking out.
Anyone who’s enjoyed the Pokémon franchise over the years, and also used the internet in the late 2000’s, knows the significance of an open-world Pokémon game — because they were getting tricked by fan-made knockoffs and “Pokémon MMO” clones as kids. Pokémon Legends: Arceus is basically the game Pokémon fans have been asking for since the birth of the series. And it’s probably the closest the IP has come to fulfilling its long-promised fantasy of “catching them all.” In other words, if you like Pokémon, this game is supposed to be the definition of a good time.
And, for the most part, it is. But when it’s not, it’s probably because you’re in the middle of one of Pokémon Legends: Arceus’ boring side quests.
Are you finished with those errands?
Don’t get me wrong, Pokémon Legends: Arceus has added plenty of quality of life changes to improve on common headaches found in what many would consider to be the “classic” ‘Pokémon formula. Automatic Exp. Share adds a smooth sense of steady progression in the game, and eliminates the need to spend hours grinding up your team in order to progress. The ability to change move-sets, nicknames and even Pokémon on the fly, without having to run around to a specific NPC, gives players more time to enjoy the fun and beauty of the wild area. And the game always tells you where you need to go to progress the story. It’s hard to argue how nice those things can be, but the same can’t be said about the many, many tedious requests that pile up as you advance.
Requests in Pokémon Legends: Arceus are basically small missions that you get from NPCs in the game. Sometimes requests are as simple as grabbing a nice lady a Geodude so she can make pickles or showing someone a Starly because she thinks they’re cute. Other times, requests send you on a wild goose chase looking for a Buizel of a very specific size that seemingly doesn’t exist. Or maybe you have to battle the shadowy overlord of an alternate dimension inverted from our own. There are 94 in total and each grants different rewards upon completion, like items or even rare Pokémon.
That sounds like a great deal and a no-brainer. Why play a game if you’re going to complain about its quests? My issue is that, for every minute in Pokémon Legends: Arceus that could be used to complete a request, I’d much rather be tripping over myself while running from Alpha Pokémon, or seeing if the game will let me climb up a weird-looking rock. As someone doing an essentially blind run of the game, requests feel like distractions from the biggest selling point of Pokémon Legends: Arceus because most of them can’t be passively accepted and completed. You have to go out of your way to fulfill them. And, usually, that means bouncing to different areas and slogging through walls of text — they’re supposed to be fun but somehow feel like extra work. And, as someone currently on the game’s 12th main quest with 32 idle requests and who-knows-how-many additional requests waiting to be picked up, trust me when I say it only gets worse when you let them accumulate.
The monotony of Pokémon Legends: Arceus’ side quests can easily be removed with a more interactive quest bar that automatically completes finished requests, or pings you and shows you how to cash in. Or maybe it would help if requests’ completion requirements were a bit more contained to their respective locations. Or, maybe you’re thinking RPGs probably aren’t for me if I get annoyed at having too much stuff to do in a game, which is fair, but also mean.
It’s definitely not a bad sign for the game’s popularity if my biggest complaint about Pokémon Legends: Arceus is how I just want to do absolutely nothing in its world. Heck, it’s more of a testament to how much fun it is to play. You don’t have to complete extra requests to progress in Pokémon Legends: Arceus. But, if you choose to, it certainly helps you stay ahead of the curve in terms of resources and Pokémon strength. Either way, I’ll readily endure the FOMO of being the only one of my friends without a shiny Ponyta if it means I can continue enjoying the game however I like.