Pokémon Sword and Shield is a generation of of unfulfilled potential. There's a lot of cool ideas at work with this version of Pokémon, like the wild area, camping, and max raids. Yet, with so many shortcomings, it also disappointed a lot of fans. With the Isle of Armor expansion, things changed a bit by adding quality of life features and a better story. Now, with the final expansion for Pokémon Sword and Shield, The Crown Tundra, players go on one last grand adventure that, thankfully, turns out to be a fine farewell that's even better than the previous DLC.
Exploring the Frigid Environments of The Crown Tundra
Like The Isle of Armor, players will travel to a brand new region in Galar. This time, we're in the snowy, frosty Crown Tundra, which is full of several new adventures and additional Pokémon. The environment is one that's a vast open area of snow, caves, icebergs. It is also, thankfully, an entire wild area. So, Pokémon roam around freely, while players can camp anywhere they want. The Isle of Armor was another wild area that had detailed and pretty environments, which convinced me that the entire base game should have been a wild area to begin with. The Crown Tundra follows this same principle and might look even better than the previous expansion.
Now, let's be honest, Pokémon Sword and Shield is easily one of the worst looking first-party Nintendo games on the Switch. At the very least, I love the look of this tundra. It's very snowy, yes, but that doesn't mean it feels repetitive. There's a good variety of views, from frosty fields to chilly mountain slopes. There's lush green areas, too, that don't feel out of place and add some diversity to the environment and fauna.
The fauna I speak of is Pokémon, and this expansion was so sought after for this very reason. The Pokédex is once more expanded upon with more of past entries' favorites. Me personally, I was extremely excited to see the return of Spheal, who has been my number one Pokémon since 2003. Still, if you're like me, you will be disappointed to find that too many other pocket monsters were left out. The inclusion of new Pokémon is nice and severely needed, but the variety felt lacking and sparse. Wherever I went, I was hoping to find a lot more Pokémon from past generations, but I found that a lot of the inhabitants of this tundra were ones I've already caught.
The Great Legendary Hunt in The Crown Tundra
The highlight of the new additions to the Pokédex is a hefty helping of legendaries. The Crown Tundra is packed to the brim with legendary Pokémon. In fact, that's the whole premise behind the plot of The Crown Tundra. Upon arriving to this new area in Galar, you're forced to partake in a hunt for legendaries with a charming and gregarious fellow named Peony. Peony and the player set out on an expedition to solve the mysteries behind a myriad of fabled legendary creatures residing in the Crown Tundra.
There's three different legendary hunts: one for the legendary bird trio from the Kanto region, one for the titans from Hoenn, and a brand new one exclusive to Galar. The latter is the most exciting, as this marks the first appearance of Calyrex. Calyrex is a fabled figure in the Crown Tundra, and its human citizens relied on this "King of Bountiful Harvests" as its protector and provider of sustenance.
The lore surrounding Calyrex is fascinating and is an excellent addition to the Pokémon mythos. What's more, Calyrex has some considerable screen time. Early on in the expansion, you encounter the large-headed, floating King of Bountiful Harvests. Calyrex tasks you with several different objectives so that it may reclaim its former power and help the citizens of The Crown Tundra. It's not often you get to interact with a legendary Pokémon to the extent that you do in The Crown Tundra, and without ruining the surprise, there's a decent amount of development for its character—at least for Pokémon game standards.
Besides that, the adventures to collect the titan and bird trios are a bit more underwhelming. To capture the former, The Crown Tundra requires players to solve a few very simple riddles, while the latter is just a matter of finding the birds in wild areas around Galar.
Calyrex's story was clearly the highlight of The Crown Tundra, but the story behind these other hunts is so sparse, that it almost feels lazy and underwhelming in comparison.
The new additions are a little disappointing with the exception of Calyrex, but there's plenty of fun to be had catching past legendaries. Dozens of legendary Pokémon from past games make a return, and the way of catching them is both fun and actually pretty easy. There's a smart new feature in The Crown Tundra called Dynamax Adventures, where players can traverse a dungeon and catch a legendary at the end of it.
This is an optional multiplayer mode where you and your team pick from a list of randomly selected Pokémon and take them into a cave that goes in several directions. Players vote on which direction they want to take and fight a dynamax Pokémon on the way. After several battles, you'll face a guaranteed legendary which, when defeated, is a 100 percent catch. It's a really fun mode to play with others online, and definitely adds a bit of much-needed content. If you liked max raid battles from the base game, you'll enjoy these even more since the rewards feel greater. It's hard for me to pass up the chance to get an extra Mewtwo or Lunala, and it's not difficult to add them to your collection.
Pokemon Sword and Shield: The Crown Tundra Review | Final Thoughts
It was surprising to find that Game Freak also included extra content outside of The Crown Tundra. Once you complete the base game and both expansions, you can partake in Galarian Star Tournaments. These tournaments allow players to team up with another story NPC, like Marnie or the gym leaders, and challenge the other gym leaders in a bracket-based competition. This inclusion adds some considerable replayability, since you can unlock more teammates as you complete more of these Star Tournaments. You'll gain much-needed money as rewards, and while these tournaments aren't all that challenging for a max-level party, it's certainly an entertaining new feature. If anything, new end-game content proves that Game Freak is listening to the community's plea for something more.
If The Crown Tundra is a farewell for this generation, it's a fine one. This expansion isn't going to knock your socks off, and its story is brief. But, there's enough extra features to keep you coming back, which is really what I was hoping for from Game Freak. The Crown Tundra is a beautiful environment to explore, and most of the legendaries—both new and old—are fantastic to see and catch. Part of me hopes this isn't it for Galar, but even so, I'll end my adventure in this region with a positive and endearing experience.
TechRaptor reviewed Pokémon Sword and Shield: The Crown Tundra with a copy personally purchased by the author.
- The Crown Tundra is Fun to Explore
- Calyrex's Storyline
- New Features Like Dynamax Adventures
- Bird and Titan Trios' Sparse Stories
- Disappointing Amount of Returning Pokémon