DLC Review – Pokémon Sword/Shield: The Isle of Armor
More than half a year after its initial release, Pokémon Sword and Shield are still the most controversial mainline Pokémon games ever released. People still haven’t stopped complaining about Dexit. Competitive players still prefer to stick to Gen VII (Sun & Moon) battle mechanics rather than the current Gen VIII landscape. The Galar region is now widely considered as the most underwhelming settings in the franchise’s history. Last, but certainly not least, everybody despised the brand new online interface, one that makes dial-up online games from 1996 look modern in comparison. This doesn’t mean we weren’t looking forward to the previously announced DLC expansions. The Isle of Armor is finally out and it’s time to tackle it and see if it was worth the wait.
The Isle of Armor expansion is set in the titular island, a place located outside of Galar. After reaching the place via train and Corviknight taxi, you’ll be greeted by a clumsy trainer that will act as your rival during the expansion: the Poison-type specialist, Klara, in Pokémon Sword, and Psychic-type trainer, Avery, in Shield. Both will have a brand new Galarian Slowbro as their main monster, given how it’s Poison and Psychic-type at once.
After a quick battle against these trainers, you’ll be invited to join a nearby Dojo ran by Pokémon Master, Mustard. This is when the expansion’s “story” begins. You’ll be tasked with completing three simple trials, after which you’ll be rewarded with a brand new pokémon, the stupidly adorable kung-fu bear, Kubfu. Your objective will then change to training the little bear up until, at the very least, level seventy, in order to tackle one of two towers located in the island. Beating the trainer at the end of said trial will allow you to evolve Kubfu into one of the forms of its evolution, the even cooler-looking Urshifu. After finishing this objective, you’ll have a few extra missions in the main storyline, but that’s basically all the expansion has to offer in terms of plotline.
All in all, the main story will take you more or less two hours to complete. Considering how there are no non-story-related trainers scattered throughout the island, and the fact that Pokémon Sword and Shield make the act of leveling up a piece of cake with the overabundance of Exp. Candies and Rare Candies, training Kubfu to a reasonable level in order to tackle the final towers is way too quick and easy. All that’s left is exploring the (small) island and capturing a brand new batch of returning pokémon.
The island contains around a hundred returning pokémon that weren’t present in the vanilla version of Sword and Shield. Some of those include fan favorites such as Scyther, Tauros, Porygon, Sharpedo, Talonflame and Seadra. You will also be able to capture a wide assortment of wild monsters that were previously exclusive to trade mechanics, such as Scizor, Escavalier and Kingdra, in what I can only describe as a way to avoid having to deal with Pokémon Sword and Shield‘s absymal online interface. There are only two new Galarian forms in here, Slowpoke and Slowbro, but a handful of Alolan forms make a comeback as well, in a frustrating albeit rewarding sidequest.
There are one hundred fifty one Alolan Diglett scattered throughout the island. A man will reward you with some Alolan forms of well-known pokémon, such as Meowth, Marowak and Vulpix, whenever you find a set amount of Diglett and report back to him. You will also be able to acquire one of Alola’s starter pokémon with a hidden ability through this method. I ended up getting a Rowlett, which was my main in Pokémon Ultra Sun. You will also be able to get either a Bulbasaur or a Squirtle with the Dojo Master’s wife. They are able to Gigantamax, just like Leon’s Charizard in the main game.
Besides this sidequest and the handful of returning monsters, there’s little else to do in this “expansion”. You can teach a handful of new moves via a brand new Move Tutor, create pokéballs with Apricorns, walk around with one of your monsters outside its pokéball, trade some Galarian forms for their original counterparts, and do the same thing you were doing in the main game’s Wild Area: partake in raids and capture everything in sight with your gigantic stock of Quick Balls. There’s not a lot of content in here to justify its steep price tag, to be honest.
While I did appreciate some of The Isle of Armor‘s features, such as the amazing Urshifu and some returning pokémon, I can’t help but feel disappointed with the amount of content present in this expansion. There isn’t a lot to do in here, as you’ll be able to do everything it has to offer in two to three hours. The Isle of Armor pales in comparison to previous post-game campaigns included in older Pokémon titles released throughout the years, and you didn’t have to pay extra in order to access them.
Final Verdict: 6.5
Pokémon Sword/Shield: The Isle of Armor is available now on Switch.