When I first played Pokemon GO, I thought that was the game we all dreamed of as a kid. Now that I have had the opportunity to play some Pokemon: Let's Go, Pikachu!, it has taken the Pokemon fantasy to its maximum. It won't satisfy those that are hardcore into the RPG aspects and mechanics of the Pokemon series, but anyone who's wanted to feel as though they were part of the Pokemon world can do no better than Let's Go.
I don't really need to go into how Pokemon works for everyone, so I won't. Let's Go takes what we are already familiar with, and everything newly added in is only there to create an awesome Pokemon fantasy.
One of the biggest things facilitating that is the presence of Pokemon everywhere. Of course you'll always have your Pikachu or Eevee hanging out with you, but you can have any other Pokemon in your party follow you around as well. Even, I'm told, you'll be able to ride around on the larger Pokemon when they are out in the world with you. You'll also be able to talk to your Pokemon following you to judge their mood, much like Pokemon Yellow. In general, interactivity with Pokemon has been increased greatly, helping to give the impression that the world actually is populated by the pocket monsters.
More than all of that, though, is the fact that random encounters are gone, meaning you see every Pokemon you have the chance of running into onscreen. Instead of seeing a bunch of grass, you'll see a load of Pokemon wandering about. In the demo I saw Viridian Forest with plenty of Caterpie, Weedle, and even a Pikachu or two. Choosing what and when to encounter something certainly offered a convenience factor, but it made the game feel much more alive showing Pokemon actively out in the wild. As a sidenote, while we were there the guy at the station next to us ran into a shiny Caterpie, which then caused all the Nintendo reps (and myself) to freak out a little bit. They said they weren't sure it was possible in that build, but now they knew for sure.
The game looks pretty awesome as well. The screenshots and trailer shown so far don't do it justice, and seeing it live in-person made me appreciate what is now the best looking game featuring Pokemon. The rep made sure to point out the fur texture on Pikachu's back, which I hope is a good example of the sort of detail we'll be seeing in Pokemon Let's Go.
I won't lie, though, my enjoyment was definitely colored by using the Pokeball Plus. That so totally unnecessary thing—as it actually has less functionality than a joy-con or other controller for the Switch—was so perfect that using it is by far one of my biggest E3 2018 highlights. The Pokeball Plus works great as a simple two button controller, it looks cool, and it sells the fantasy of actually throwing a Pokeball to catch a Pokemon perfectly. To make the motion and see the ball fly towards a Pokemon ... it was one of the biggest triggers on my nostalgia I've ever experienced. To put it simply, it just felt right—like how I should have been doing it all along.
It does more than act as just a controller, however. When you throw a Pokeball in an attempt to catch a Pokemon, the Pokeball Plus has a flashing light that matches the screen. Once you catch a Pokemon, you can hold it up to your ear to hear its cry. It sounds so simple and uncool when you read it, but experiencing it first hand—it's amazing. It totally makes you feel as though you caught a Pokemon with the Pokeball in your hand.
So, really, I have only positive things to say about the Pokeball Plus. Oh, and you get a Mew in the Pokeball Plus already when you purchase it.
For the most part, other than seeing a few hands-on things, I didn't learn much we didn't know from the announcement. For more details on Pokemon Let's Go, check out here. However, there were a few new things I learned:
- Battling Pokemon will only happen in trainer battles. Encountering Pokemon in the wild is only to catch them in the same way as in Pokemon Go.
- Battling trailers is the same as in the mainline games.
- The co-op option gives both players access to all the resources on the account to work with.
- The second player can jump in and out at will. The Nintendo rep used the example of a parent jumping in real quick to help out a child then hopping back out.
- Pokemon from the original 151 can be traded into Pokemon Let's Go, but Pokemon caught in Let's Go can't be traded into Pokemon Go.