Review | Pokémon Sword and Shield: Isle of Armor DLC
When PokémonSword and Shield came out in 2019, the game got great reviews, even from myself. Granted one of the main criticisms was the absence of a huge portion of the Pokédex. Thankfully Game Freak announced earlier this year that two DLC expansions were coming. The two expansions are included in a bundle for $29.99. After some months of waiting, the first one is finally available, the Isle of Armor. However, the question remains. Is the first expansion worth dabbling into?
The Isle of Armor is located to the western shores of the Galar region. It revolves around a dojo in which future trainers aspire to become Gym Leaders under the guidance of Master Mustard. Even though the story portion of Isle of Armor is three to four hours long, the story is more enjoyable than the main story. The writing for the new characters is great, and there are some funny moments along the way. For example, one of the new rivals, Klara, makes the story far superior than the main plot in Sword and Shield. The only time the story falters is when a returning character shows up, creating a disparity between the two narratives.
There are very few minute differences between the Sword and Shield version of the expansion, such as a couple of exclusive pokémon. However the biggest one is the rival character. Sword players will face the aforementioned poison trainer Klara whereas Shield players will encounter the psychic trainer Avery. Using Sword for this review, we didn’t spend time with Avery, so we don’t know how he affects the story. If he’s anything like Klara, then he likely makes for a great character as well. Klara was always stealing the show during the campaign. Her snide and over the top reactions contrasting her fashionable appearance make her stand out.
Perhaps my biggest nitpick with the story is the lack of proper level scaling. The opposing trainers only scale by the amount of badges collected in the main game. The problem is seven months after release, having a team of level 100 Pokemon is likely, steamrolling any opponent.
The entire island is designed like the Wild Area in the main game, complete with a 360 degree camera. While the island doesn’t look technically different than the main Galar Wild Area, at least there are new locations to explore. From a watery cave to a desert, it does add variety to the greenery pastures of yore. There are also 150 different Diglett to find across the map, adding more replay value to the package. Unfortunately the island is rather small and exploration as a whole feels brief.
There are over 100 returning Pokémon in the first expansion. It is nice to see many fan favorites return like Marowak, Golduck, and my personal favorite Scizor. There are also some new creatures like Galarian forms for Slowpoke and Slowbro, and the mythical Kubfu. Kubfu represents a big part of the campaign, acting as your partner during the story.
So this brings us back to the initial question: is Isle of Armor worth it? I’d say at the time of this writing, only hardcore fans should venture. While the story is leagues over the original, its short length and lack of content feels sparse. I think the value of the DLC lies with having both expansion packs together, since Crown Tundra will feature the long awaited Legendary Raids. Isle of Armor is a nice addition for Pokémon Sword and Shield, but only the biggest Pokémaniacs will get the most out of the experience.