The Pokémon Let’s Go titles are Game Freak’s first big attempt to move their main series from handheld systems to a console, or rather a hybrid in the Switch’s case. This move has had many fans unbelievably excited for what is to come, and caused even more surprise when a re-imagining of the first generation’s Yellow was revealed. It was a shock that almost immediately split fans especially when considering the connection to Pokémon Go, which while still popular, has not seen as large a player base as during its original release. The big question now is how much this off-shoot from the core series will affect the series,or if it will end up more of a failure compared to previous titles.
To get simple facts out of the way, it’s unlikely that Let’s Go even has a chance of being a failure financially. Less than a handful of titles in the franchise have ever seen less than a million in sales and the lowest in sales the main series has ever seen outside of Virtual Console re-releases is six million. It’s easy to say that regardless of changes, Let’s Go will sell large numbers on name alone. The real question is how fans will embrace it when it releases, as there are quite a few changes that affect much of the older audience in particular. From combat to field mechanics, there are many different changes that continue to be revealed to curious fans. Whether these are good or bad varies from person to person, but it’s easy to try and examine both sides and see how they can be a highlight in the series’ future.
Two of the biggest combat mechanics that have seen removal come in the disappearance of held items and Pokémon abilities. From a competitive standpoint, Let’s Go is not a title players are likely to see at any tournaments because of this. On the other hand, this simplification can actually come across as appealing to those who want more streamlined combat. Tie this in to the fact that there is no breeding for IVs, and EVs can be easily affected by simple candy found in the game, and it’s the perfect combination for a more simple introduction to some of the more complex competitive concepts. While this might not appeal to those who love to grind for those perfect Pokémon, it’s a great stepping stone for those who might have been more intimidated by the big picture but can now start in a much more welcoming setting.
Some of the smaller changes include Pokémon no longer being random encounters, but rather visible at all times on the field. From a gameplay perspective this lines up with many other modern RPGs, and from an in-game perspective, this makes the world feel more alive than ever. This also makes it much easier for trainers to avoid combat should they just want to move on and continue their way through the area. The removal of HMs in Sun and Moon was a relief to many players who had grown tired of having to either teach Pokémon in their party a move that wasn’t always that great or have one slot taken up with one Pokémon that only knew HMs. Instead of using Poké Ride like Sun and Moon, the trainer’s partner Pokémon is capable of learning field moves to get around this entire. As the footage shown suggests the partner Pokemon is with the trainer at all times, this is an easy solution that can easily be carried on into future titles with another inclusion being the pocket PC.
The Pocket PC allows trainers to switch out their Pokémon at any time, instead of having to access a Pokémon Center. This is easily one of the best changes by far, allowing players to swap on the fly and give them the edge in battle, or perhaps in the future, easy access to Pokémon moves that replace HMs. While future starters might not as be as all-powerful with field moves as in Let’s Go, the next titles could instead allow trainers to summon their own Pokémon they’ve caught at any time in order to progress much like Poké Ride instead of borrowing ones that belong to others. This even fits alongside Let’s Go allowing trainers to have one Pokémon follow behind them, of which many larger ones can be ridden similarly to a handful of Pokémon seen in gens 6 and 7.
Whether or not fans are entirely sold on the idea of Let’s Go, its ideas are bringing a lot of great concepts forward to the future of the franchise. Even the newly-revealed post-game with 151 trainers that carry Pokémon titles is a crazy yet unique concept that could carry into future entries in different ways outside of the traditional battle tower scenarios. Let’s Go has a lot of fans mixed, but from the point of view of Game Freak wanting to try something new, it’s a wonderful approach in so many ways. Pokémon is still a series about the friendship between people and their Pokémon companions first and Let’s Go is aiming to nail that on the head with brand new ideas that might make for interesting new takes on the series in the future. For now, however, we’ll just have to wait and see when it releases next month how these changes might possibly change the series as we know it.