The Pokemon Company has provided an important bit of clarification about its upcoming Pokemon Legends: Arceus game. Early next year, The Pokemon Company will release Pokemon Legends: Arceus, a new Pokemon game that makes big changes to the well-worn Pokemon formula. But while the game was initially described as an "open world-style" game by fans, The Pokemon Company clarified that the game isn't a true open world game. When Kotaku pointed out that the game seemed to feature open areas that were "walled off" from other areas, The Pokemon Company provided a brief response confirming how the game will work.
"In Pokémon Legends: Arceus, Jubilife Village will serve as the base for surveying missions," The Pokemon Company told Kotaku in a statement. "After receiving an assignment or a request and preparing for their next excursion, players will set out from the village to study one of the various open areas of the Hisui region. After they finish the survey work, players will need to return once more to prepare for their next task. We look forward to sharing more information about exploring the Hisui region soon."
Basically, gameplay will be a bit more in the style of Monster Hunter Rise, where players explore an area but still have to return to a home base in between missions. These areas look to be significantly larger than the routes traditionally seen in Pokemon games, but this won't be a game akin to The Legend of the Zelda: Breath of the Wild, where players have access to the entire map after a brief introductory period.
We'll note that The Pokemon Company never billed Pokemon Legends: Arceus as an open-world game, so that description falls solely on the fans (and also media outlets like us) who incorrectly assumed that the game was something it was not. That doesn't mean that the game won't offer a significantly different experience than other Pokemon games. Not only is the game set in a different era of the Pokemon timeline (taking place in a past feudal area), it also features a wider exploration style in which players actually can be attacked by Pokemon. Battles won't take place on a separate type of screen, but will instead take place on the overworld map. The game will also feature new regional variant Pokemon and new regional variant evolutions, continuing a trend from Pokemon Sword and Shield.
Pokemon Legends: Arceus will be released on January 28, 2022.