Crown Tundra Review

By Nol. Released: 2021/05/28
« Previous Article Next Article »
Crown Tundra's Review art

Art by Ticken.

Introduction

The second half of the Pokémon Sword and Shield Expansion Pass, the Crown Tundra, released in late October of last year. You can read about the first part, the Isle of Armor, in Estronic's fantastic article. The presence of DLC was something new to the Pokémon series, and the two halves of the Expansion Pass differed greatly not just in story, but in features and atmosphere as well. In this article, we'll take a look at the Crown Tundra DLC, how good it really is, and what this step towards DLC could mean for the future of the series.


Overworld

Starting off on a not-so-positive note, the overworld of the Crown Tundra is pretty disappointing, especially compared to the diverse biomes of the Isle of Armor. About 60% of the landscape is covered in snow, turning it into an endless sheet of white. The single town of Freezington, which serves as the hub area for the story, is the only break in the snowy wasteland. The rest is a meadow-like field of green, suffering from the same general lack of diversity, but in a different color. The ruins in which you find the Hoenn titans are some of the cooler locations, providing a nice callback to Gen 3 with the puzzles required to open them. Ballimere Lake is a welcome breath of fresh air, with bright grass and water and a large colorful tree that initially houses the Galarian Kanto birds, which provides some much needed contrast to the rest of the region. The beaches, forests, and caves of the Isle of Armor are sorely missed in the Crown Tundra.

Characters and Story

There are few unique characters in the Crown Tundra, and none very interesting. Peonia is an easily forgettable character, with her only purpose seeming to be to kick off the story, introduce you to Dynamax Adventures, and then... nothing else. Peony, your supposed partner in your adventures, immediately abandons you to do it all yourself despite naming you and him the "Peony Exploration Team", and while his comments on Calyrex's "massive noggin" are funny the first or second time, each successive time it just becomes a played-out joke that quickly loses its humor. Finally, Calyrex itself actually serves as the best of the three notable characters. It tells a compelling story of how it was once revered as the king of the Crown Tundra who eventually faded into legend, and pleads for your help to return its power so that it may once again help the people of the region. It speaks to you through Peony, which can lead to some humorous moments, but ultimately its story and character serves as the strongest and most interesting of the three.

What the Crown Tundra lacks in characters it more than makes up for in story. After getting to Freezington, you're immediately given three Legendary Clues to choose from and do in any order you wish. These will force you to explore the whole of the Crown Tundra in order to complete them. You will find yourself travelling to the corners of the region to discover the temples in which the legendary titans lay, climbing a mountain to help Calyrex regain its power, and one even takes you back out into the Isle of Armor and the Wild Area of Galar to chase after the Galarian birds. It's hard to put the game down as you work to solve the clues and catch the new legendaries. Even more content is offered through a fourth clue given to you after the conclusion of the main story, as well as a hunt to find footprints that will eventually lead you to Unova's Swords of Justice, including a catchable Keldeo. The freedom of the Crown Tundra's story offers an appreciated break from the seemingly suffocating linearity of both the base game and Isle of Armor.

New and Returning Pokémon

Nine new Pokémon were introduced in this new region, five legendaries and four new Galarian forms. Many of these quickly cemented themselves into common discussion, whether due to their interesting and unique designs, like Regieleki and Regidrago, or due to their ability to shake up the competitive scene, like Spectrier for its short run in OU and Glastrier in VGC. Calyrex, while lackluster on its own, gains two powerful fusions when combined with either Glastrier or Spectrier, each forces to be reckoned with in the Gen 8 Ubers scene. Galarian variants of the legendary birds of Kanto can also be found, each with an interesting new type combination and sleek new design that greatly shows off the potential of regional variants by updating Pokémon that have been series staples for decades.

Over one hundred Pokémon from previous generations also returned in this expansion. This list includes fan favorites like Dragonite, Garchomp, and Metagross, as well as fossil Pokémon like Aurorus and Tyrantrum that can be found in the wild. More than fifty of the returning cast is made up of legendary Pokémon and Ultra Beasts from previous generations, making every single one available and obtainable through the Expansion Pass. Notable exclusions included many Gen 4 Pokémon like the Sinnoh starters, likely due to the impending release of Gen 4 remakes, as well as several mythical Pokémon such as Hoopa and Meloetta. Even missing these, however, the Crown Tundra brought with it a huge variety of new and old Pokémon for both collectors and avid battlers to enjoy.

New Features


Conclusion

Now that both halves of the Expansion Pass are out, the question is: was it worth the money? I believe that the answer is yes. They add much needed side and post-game content to the base game, and each comes with new features that make the game easier and less of a grind with regards to getting Pokémon that are good for competitive. While it has its faults, the Expansion Pass is an overall enjoyable experience that will keep you engaged for several hours.

Looking to the future, I believe this could be a new and less expensive alternative to addons we've seen in the past. Third games such as Emerald and Platinum eventually gave away to the likes of Black and White 2 and Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. Similarly, I believe that these too will fade out and DLC will take their place, which I see as a positive change, since DLC gives new content at a fraction of the price of an entirely new game. While imperfect, the Expansion Pass shows a step in a bright and interesting new direction for the series.

HTML by Inactive
« Previous Article Next Article »