If nothing else, Generation 8 will always be a historical one for Pokémon because it’s the first one to offer expansions through DLC.
Isle of Armor and Crown Tundra add an enormous amount of new additions to the Galarian region, expanding the game into two major new areas with some new gameplay features.
Beginning with the Isle of Armor, I’m greeted with some familiar faces and some new ones, all while wearing a beaming smile.
How to Play
Once purchased, the content can be accessed by heading to Wedgehurst Station and speaking to the attendant there. He will acknowledge you have an Armor Pass and offer you the chance to visit Armor Station.
Immediately after jumping off the train at Armor Station, you’re greeted with yet another rival. Thought you were done with them in Galar? No chance.
Depending on whether you own Sword or Shield, you will face a different rival and be forced into an immediate battle to determine your skill level. While it’s not required you finish Sword or Shield, it probably helps if you’re a decent way through. There’s lots of high-level Pokémon lurking around and some of them are not too friendly.
You find yourself in a bit of confusion as your rival thinks you’re here for the Master Dojo when, really, you’re just here for the sights and to fill out your Pokedex, right? But sure enough, you find yourself heading towards another Dojo and taking part in three tough trials in order to truly make a name for yourself.
Armor Island is well connected by a series of tunnels, and each area has a real sense of individualism. From vast, open grounds full of the greenest grass and the bluest sky, to blinding yellow deserts, and creepy forests. The Pokémon you find here are, of course, unique to each area and adapt to the conditions. And many you’ll have met before.
While the main story of Armor Island can be over within two hours – by the time you step off the train to the moment you finish your training – there’s still a lot of Pokémon to gather and opportunities for unique Raid Battles to get through.
At the heart of Armor Island is, of course, Kubfu who you’ve seen in all the promo art. This little fella is encountered through the story and you’ll have to fulfill a series of conditions in order to get the most out of them. Trust me, you’re going to want to do that as they’ll likely end up a permanent addition to your party.
But as for the rest of the dex, it’s a great mix of past generations with many iconic inclusions. One thing Sword and Shield was criticized for was a lack of classic Pokémon, but Isle of Armor goes a long way to adding many of those greats into the game with 107 past gen legends.
From Kanto classics like Tauros and Tangela, moving into Johto with the Quagsire and Skarmory, and beyond. Game Freak have done a great job bringing back so many iconic favorites, striking a great balance while still having room to grow and build out the dex in Crown Tundra.
The Isle of Armor has its own dex – presumably, Crown Tundra will as well – so it’s pretty easy to differentiate what you’ve found in the base game compared to what’s in this new DLC.
Narratively, it’s all pretty slim, but to bolster the content further, hidden Digletts can be located through Armor Island and into the base game itself. Collect them all and you’ll find unique Pokémon that can’t be caught anywhere else. This also gives you a good excuse to retread familiar ground, while also exploring every inch of the new region. All while walking your little or large mon around with you – a lovely new feature that makes me feel like I’m right back in Pokémon Go.
The other big inclusion is the Gigantamax form of your starter Mon, presenting you with either Rillaboom, Cinderace, or Inteleon. The moveset is ultra-powerful and will tear enemies to shreds. Though, to be honest, that’s not necessarily the best thing about this DLC considering how overpowered my Starter already is compared to everything else in the game.
I stormed through the base game pretty easily, so I can’t imagine how much easier this would make things, though, of course, this can be more helpful with raids and other forms of online action.
Completionists will relish all Isle of Armor has to offer, with so many new Mon to add to your dex and lots to explore, as well as some new and unique powerups that further alter the way you play, it makes for an essential purchase. If you’re coming into this for story, though, you’re probably going to be pretty disappointed as it’s over before it even gets going and you’ll feel like Game Freak could have done a lot more with it.
Still, this is a nice Wild Area warm-up for what seems to be the stronger DLC in Crown Tundra. I’m looking forward to diving right in.
+ Absolutely tons of extra Pokémon and a whole new Dex to fill in a vast Wild Area
+ Kubfu is ace when maxed out
+ Armor Island is nicely varied
+ Gigantamax Starter is super OP
+ Taking your Pokémon for a walk is just lovely
– Story is limited and over in under two hours
– Some rewards seem a bit minimal
Pokémon Sword / Shield – Isle of Armor DLC Review
7.5 out of 10
Tested on Switch
Code kindly received from Nintendo