Pokemon Sword Isle of Armor Review
Pokemon is not a franchise known for DLC. It is known for special editions, re-releases, and remakes, however. In fact, one could argue that it’s weird we haven’t seen DLC for this franchise before now. Although when Isle of Armor is laid out on the autopsy table, it’s easier to see why they’ve hesitated up to this point. The content included is good, make no mistake! It’s just that there’s not a whole lot of it.
The Isle of Armor DLC released for Pokemon Sword and Shield takes place on (surprise!) an island just east of Galar. There’s new Pokemon, a gym/dojo, a challenge tower, some fetch questing, and even some Battle Tower action to get in on. You’ll also get to the end of the story content in around four hours. I know that this is only the first of two releases, and that there’s a lot of non-story content to chew up, but the size can’t be ignored. So let’s ignore it for a minute, and look at what is present in Isle of Armor.
Your arrival on the island begins with a battle, of course. In Pokemon Sword, your opponent is Klara, an insecure young woman who tries to shoo you away after discovering how strong you are. From there, you’re introduced to the Master Dojo and its inhabitants. A series of challenges await involving Kubfu and its evolution, Urshifu. This can potentially be a tough hurdle to overcome, depending on how strong the rest of your party is. I happened to have a fistful of Exp candies on hand, so it wasn’t as hard as it could have been. Your mileage may vary, but I was at the DLC’s end in a little over a day. But wait, there’s more!
Back For The First Time
Specifically, there’s 100 more Pokemon in the ‘dex than there were before. They’re not new so much as they are returning from previous games, but still. If you’ve filled out the Pokedex up to this point, you’ve got a fair bit of work ahead of you. On top of that, you can acquire Alolan versions of certain Pokemon by hunting for Diglett all over the islands. You can also find people looking for local versions of certain Pokemon, who will trade you for the original forms you’re more familiar with. Once you’ve caught them all, so to speak, you can spend your hard-earned Watts to upgrade the facilities at the Master Dojo. The more you spend, the fewer things you’ll need to leave the island to get done. There’s even a rudimentary crafting mechanic!
Known as the Cram-o-matic, this child’s toy turned recycling center will turn items into better items, assuming you know the recipe. You can even turn acorns into Pokeballs, a long-lost feature some fans may recognize. Once you’ve caught all the Pokemon, sniffed out every Diglett, expanded the Master Dojo, and crafted every item, you can turn to Restricted Sparring. Think of it like a Battle Tower with even more rules. There’s no items allowed, everyone is level 50, and you can only bring in one type at a time. Having tested a few battles, all I can say is good luck? I’m sure you’ll do fine.
When examined from a distance, it seems that Isle of Armor is light on story, but chock full of content. I neglected to mention the expanded clothing options you can shop for, some of which are half a million bucks each. Some just give you a cool punk vibe, so maybe buy those items instead. You can even change the look of the bike outfit, so you’re no longer cosplaying as a traffic cone! You’re even given an Exp charm, so that those wild Pokemon you battle earn you extra levels. If you’re purely looking for more Pokemon stuff to do, Isle of Armor has you covered.
Enjoy All The Little Things
Full disclosure: as a Pokemon diehard fan, I snapped up an expansion pass before the codes even came in. I’m in no position whatsoever to dictate whether you should spend your money on this content. On the other hand, maybe hesitate before you spend your money on this content. If you’re looking for a meaty chunk of story, wait and see! Perhaps the Crown of Tundra release will include more narrative for you to soak up later this year. Conversely, if you just want more tasks to complete and Pokemon to catch, go on and pull that trigger. I was freed from Pokemon’s adorable clutches for months, and this DLC release has handily undone all that work. Like the base game, the story is an afterthought. Sword, Shield, and now the DLC are all geared towards non-linear play habits. Rather than being guided towards a story-centered goal, you’re making your own fun. The good news is, there’s quite a lot of this kind of fun to be had here. If you’re in the mood for more of what made Pokemon Sword and Shield so good, Isle of Armor will be just what you need.
***A Nintendo Switch code was purchased by the reviewer***
- 100 new Pokemon to catch
- Restricted Sparring is intense
- Whole island is one big Wild Area
- Story is very brief
- Fetch quest gets exhausting
- Most content feels user-directed