REVIEW: Pokémon Sword and Shield – “Isle of Armor” Is a Beautiful And Satisfying (Switch)

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Pokemon Sword and Shield: Isle of Armor is here. For the first time in franchise history, Pokemon released DLC for their game rather than producing a full-priced game in the generation. For half the price of a game, the Pokemon Sword and Shield Expansion Pass give you access to, Isle of Armor, available now, and Crown of Tundra, to be released later this year.

In the Isle of Armor, you venture into a new Wild Area and are mistaken for a new student that’s to attend the Master Dojo. You go along with everything and you’re given three trials to receive the secret armor of the dojo. With two versions, there are slight differences when it comes to pokemon and characters. Playing Pokemon Sword, your rival on the Isle of Armor is Klara, a Poison-type trainer. In Pokemon Sword, your rival is Avery, a Psychic-type user, eager to be first at everything and hog the spotlight. Master Mustard is a constant in both versions of the DLC and will be in charge of your training while on the Isle.

Upon arriving at the Isle, I was surprised and delighted to see that it was a giant wild area. Months prior I had completed my Pokedex of 400 creatures. Immediately seeing new creatures from previous generations hit me in the feels, especially seeing some old favorites. The Isle is beautiful with its varying ecosystems, from plains to caves, forests, mountains, and other small islands. As you travel you can see different Pokemon roaming and flying around, fueling that eagerness to, ‘Gotta catch Em All’.

Usually in the Wild Area, some pokemon roam aimlessly or in the grassy area, there are exclamation marks signaling of pokemon. This time you can see pokemon interacting in the environment. I was awestruck looking out into the ocean and seeing a giant Wailord sunbathing. And if you know what one looks like, it was huge. When you do surf, Sharpedo come barrelling towards you in a Jaws style effect. When you’re exploring the forest, it’s so cute seeing Emolgas bouncing and flying from tree to tree. These minor details really capture the world of Pokemon.

Isle of Armor

When it comes to catching Pokemon, the Isle of Armor Pokedex only holds a little over 200 creatures. Upon entering the isle, I had more than half of the dex completed. Despite the national dex controversy and players wanting all their favorites to return, I was quite happy with the selection that made the cut into this DLC. And although catching Pokemon is what brings players back each generation, I really enjoyed the DLC’s story and the cast of characters. Because I played the Shield version, my rival was Avery, a pompous brat of an adult that highly annoyed me but was surprised by his character development by the story’s end. Dojo master, Mustard stole the show for me, from loving his character design and demeanor, all the way down to having to battle him.

Pokemon Sword and Shield‘s Isle of Armor is groundbreaking but it gets the job done in pulling trainers back into its world. It’s exciting to see the expansion of the Galar Region with new geography and new stories. Pokemon catching may be the selling point of these games but this time around it is the story and level design that shines brightest. With online features on and seeing other trainers exploring alongside you, it feels like a potential Pokemon MMO many players have wanted for quite some time. Coupled with ever-evolving raid dens and events from The Pokemon Company, Sword and Shield has more life in it and will carry us up until The Crown Tundra.

Pokemon Sword and Shield: Isle of Armor is available for download now on the Nintendo Switch.

'Isle of Armor' Is Beautiful And Satisfying DLC
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL;DR

Pokemon Sword and Shield‘s Isle of Armor is groundbreaking but it gets the job done in pulling trainers back into its world. It’s exciting to see the expansion of the Galar Region with new geography and new stories. Pokemon catching may be the selling point of these games but this time around it is the story and level design that shines brightest.