- Developer: Game Freak
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Release Date: 22/10/2020
- Price: £26.99 / $29.99 (Only available as part of the season pass which includes The Isle of Armor DLC)
Finally! – The Crown Tundra DLC
There we have it: The crowning finale to the Pokémon Sword and Shield saga-The Crown Tundra.
Or, in other words, the latest DLC offering that gets Pokémon fan’s knickers in a twist. There are those lamenting a) that the complete Pokédex is still not available because 234 little monsters are even now missing and b) that both DLCs should have been included in the main game anyway, because Pokémon fans are entitled to get everything at once and for free, too and c) that generation [put in the generation you started with] is the best and the series went downhill after that in any case.
Of course, these are all valid beliefs, but you might wish to stop reading this article if you hold them dear to your heart. Or read on and make fun of me later. Your choice.
A hot welcome in an icy environment!
Let’s start at the beginning. With the latest DLC you get access to another region of Galar, called the Crown Tundra. What awaits you there is not only a fresh wild area full of Pokémon otherwise not obtainable in the other regions, but also fresh main story line that sees you collecting evidence of 10 legendary monsters, quite a lot of side quests to undertake, netting you more legendaries, a fresh tournament to win and lots of small details to uncover.
The main story of the region is both charming and ridiculous. In the beginning, you get shanghaied into an adventure to collect information on three sets of legendary ‘mon. Needless to say that you’ll be doing all the work while your “partner” waits and offers more or less helpful tips. At least you’ll end up with the Pokémon at the end of the quests. Well, not all of them actually. You have to make two tough decisions, because you can only get Glastrier OR Spectrier and Regieleki OR Regidrago. You’ll have to trade for the one you didn’t pick to complete the dex. This is actually my only gripe with the DLC. I want to catch (and own) them all!
I’ll do the research, you reap the fame (as usual)!
You’ll also see Sonia again who is doing research and has you looking for footprints throughout the region. Sound familiar? Yeah, it’s the Diglett-search from the Isle of Armor revamped. Honestly, it’s more interesting. Not only because your reward is a lot better – Keldeo – but also because the footsteps are better to spot than Diglett hairs.
Complete the main story lines of Galar, Isle of Armor and Crown Tundra and you secure yourself a spot in the Galarian Star Tournament. Here, you pick a partner from the Galarian gym leaders or your rivals and fight your way to the top in multi battles. The more often you win this tournament, the more gym leaders will want to join you next time. This is a nice way to spend time postgame.
And now, open the curtains for the main attraction!
Want to spend a lot of time in postgame? There’s just the thing for you: explore a Pokémon den and catch a legendary Pokémon (Each just once, sadly.) There’s only a few caveats to keep in mind:
- You can’t bring your own monsters. But you can rent one to accompany you.
- You can’t go alone, but have to enter the den in groups of four. The other three can be your friends, random guys from the Internet or NPCs.
- HP/AP usage and faints add up. There are no items to heal your Pokémon, but you can switch out your current one for one you just caught. (Catch rate is probably 100%, as I’ve caught all monsters in the den with a simple Pokéball.)
This sounds terrible at first and, let’s be completely honest, it can be truly terrible when you are partnered with the usual incompetent NPCs or randumbs from the ‘net. If you explore the den with knowing friends or randoms, the whole adventure turns into a delightful, but challenging, experience. This is definitely addictive!
We’ve seen the future of Pokémon!
I think it’s telling that both the Isle of Armor as well as the Crown Tundra were created as huge wild areas. With the freedom of movement, freedom of camera control and the choice of having your favourite Pokémon following you around, Game Freak would be totally nuts not to have the next mainline Pokémon game be a huge open-world wild area. Seriously, I’ve breezed through the main story of Sword/Shield and then spend every other minute in wild areas, first to complete the dex, then on the Isle and in the Tundra. I’d guess that from the 260 hours I’ve put into the game so far approximately only 40 were spent on the main story. All the rest were in the wild areas.
Conclusion and Verdict
Is the DLC essential? Of course not: It’s a video game, after all.
Is it a lot of fun? Most definitely. Just remember that it is simply more of the same and no changes were made to the base game. That means that all the complaints hurled against the original release are still valid. If you have problems with graphics or frame-rate, they are still there. If you cry over missing Pokeḿon, there’s a chance they’re still absent.
To me, personally, both parts of the DLC are worth the money and justify the combined cost. I’ve spent more time in them than in any other Pokémon game before. They simply add a lot of variety that would otherwise be absent.