After becoming the champion of Galar what is left to do? Why not take a (Short) trip to the beautiful Isle of Armor? Where you can meet a new partner, catch some new (Returning) Pokémon and take in the sights!
Without holding anything back, the wild zone that they have implemented within the Isle of Amor is excellent! It stretches the whole map and is full of caves, forests and islands in the sea. This new wild zone truly makes you want to explore, there is so much to see out there, and this is the most substantial part of the DLC.
The Isle of Armor story kicks off right as you leave the train station. A man who is looking to join the Dojo on the Island will tell you that he is afraid to go outside because a menacing person is waiting outside. The game wastes no time in introducing your rival for The Isle of Armor, Klara (Sword) Or Avery (Shield), a star student at the Dojo. The rivalry is set in place when you beat her, and she realises that you could outshine her at the Dojo, she then tries to stop you from coming to protect her own identity. Defying her misdirection, you are welcomed into the Dojo with open arms and your adventure begins.
There is an interesting dynamic between you and Klara (Or Avery if you play Shield), which I genuinely liked. Klara realises that you are stronger and will do everything within her power to stop you, even if that means cheating! You are set three challenges to complete, in which your rival is directly behind you at all stages.
After completion, you are introduced to the new Legendary Pokémon Kubfu. After meeting Kubfu, Master Mustard sets you the goal of becoming the best of friends. Using the in-game heart system, we must get our Kubfu to 5 hearts so that we can progress. Usually getting a Pokémon’s happiness up can be quite a tedious task, but the DLC offers you the option to go visit scenic areas within the game to boost your friendship. Thankfully, you only have to visit two or three areas to do this, but it gives you another reason to explore the Isle.
I won’t carry on about the story too much just in case people would still like to play it, so avoiding any spoilers, I will conclude here. The story is shamefully short… what took me around 2-3 hours, only because I was catching new Pokémon, looking to build a new team for the challenges ahead. The game, if you play the story solely must be around an hour… maybe an hour and a half’s worth of gameplay… That is not great at all. Once I had finished it, I wandered around for a while to figure out who I had to talk with to continue the story. Looking at my quest bar, I was disappointed, it read “Adventure to your heart’s content!”… it was over. It honestly took me longer to build a team that I did not need than complete the story.
The Isle of Armor
While I think the story, itself is not worth purchasing the DLC for, the map itself is pretty good. It is full of life, and one thing that I absolutely love is the sea. There are islands scattered around the main Island, and they are full of their own mysteries. It was more an “Oh, I wonder if anything cool spawns on that Island over there” and you would have to go check it out! But one thing that I did not expect was the Sharpedo in the water. When riding around in the water you will see an object jetting its way towards you. At first, I was interested so let it initiate the fight. After catching my first one, I avoided them… but that does not mean they don’t try to get to you and wow they are fast! Another surprise was seeing a Wailord… just out and about… casually living its life! I knew it was big, but damn, it puts the size of these creatures into perspective. I loved this moment, combined with the Sharpedo we see how the world is formed and it was awesome to see. There is just not enough of it.
The world is scattered with Dens for Max raids… and I mean scattered with them! They are a little ugly and jarring when looking at the beautiful scenery they have created.
Oh, and Master Mustard grants you the authority to have your Pokémon follow you outside of their ball. Which leads me to many questions: is he the leading authority on Pokémon and ball rules? What are the Criteria to allow a Pokémon to follow you? Does Ash have permission from him? If not, is he breaking any laws? Did we have permission from him in older games? I do not want to be on the wrong side of Master Mustard, so I need to know!
The New (Returning) Pokémon
Pokémon Isle of Armor brings a plethora of new Pokémon… well Old Pokémon… but new to Sword and Shield. I did not realise how many Gen one Pokémon was cut from the base game… well… I know now because it seems that the Island is full one Gen one Pokémon. Or maybe that is just me noticing them more than the others? I do not know. The returning Pokémon is nice. I suppose, but it makes me wonder how many people will just buy the DLC for the returning Pokémon? You can get them without the DLC, but you must have them traded to you… and not too many people will have friends who can give them the entire Isle of Armor Dex.
We are introduced to a trainer that has caught 150 Alolan Diglett, and I do not blame him, they are adorable. Unfortunately, they have decided to explore the Island without him and are now missing. He asks us to find all 150 for him, which sounds like a daunting task, but from casual play, I have discovered over half, so it does not seem to be too much of a chore. It is quite fun and gives you another reason to explore.
What I enjoyed, however, was this is how we get our hands on the Alolan versions of Pokémon. Once I found this out and figured that Alolan Vulpix would be in there, I went straight out and found as many as I could! Alolan Vulpix is better than normal Vulpix… and the majority of Pokémon… Do not argue with me… it is adorable.
Fundamentals that are still broken
What really irked me, however, is how bad the online system for raid battles still is. During the Pokémon Showcase, they announced a Zeraora event in which if one million were defeated, every player would receive a shiny Zeraora. I loved this, it gives old players a reason to return… but when you are faced with the constant messages that state a raid is closed or full when they are showing you give up quickly. It seems, for me personally, that I struggle to get more than one other person in my raids, but everyone I try to join is continuously full.
This is one area of the game that is seriously just flawed. It is counterproductive. I enjoy raid battles and want to be in as many as possible. It is just a nightmare to join anyone who is asking for help! This needs to be addressed, but I doubt it will.
Pokémon Sword and Shield’s first DLC is a weak entry. Unfortunately, the story holds little substance, but its countered by a fascinating map. We can only hope that the next installation will have a better storyline and keep the strengths from the Ilse of Armor. I mean, it is not like any of us have a choice, most of us had to purchase both DLC together, so we have to play it!
Those are my thoughts on the Isle of Armor. HOw was your trip to the Isle? Did you enjoy it? Who is your new instant addition to your team? Is it the new legendary or a returning face?