Pokemon: Let's Go, Eevee! & Let's Go, Pikachu Hands-On Impressions from E3 2018
While the new Smash Bros was undoubtedly the star of Nintendo's E3 showing this year, it's fair to say that Pokemon: Let's Go wasn't far behind. Game Freak revealed the titles alongside Pokemon Quest and a tease for the 8th generation of Pokemon at an event last month, and the Pokemon Yellow re-imagining seems primed to act as a bridge between those that either started playing or returned to playing the series with Pokemon Go, borrowing many of its mechanics such as CP and the capture system. We got a chance to try the game out during our appointment with Nintendo during this year's E3, in which we were thrown into Viridian Forest on a quest to catch us some Pokemon and battle a few trainers.
The first thing we noticed when sitting down to play the game was the controls - we played through our demo entirely using the new Pokeball Plus accessory. Despite the novelty of using a Pokeball to play the game, I can't say I was impressed. Trying to navigate the game using an especially small analog stick with confirming actions and/or opening the menu tied to clicking the stick in and canceling actions by using a recessed surface on the top was more than a little annoying. Trying to properly "throw" the ball to catch wild pokemon required some rather specific setup and the strap that the Nintendo representatives pointed out only highlighted the issues that the accessory currently has. Of course, the game and accessory do come out in 5 months - leaving plenty of time for the accessory to improve! - but our initial impressions are that it leaves a lot to be desired.
As for the game itself, wild Pokemon battles have been completely replaced with Pokemon Go's system of catching Pokemon. Instead of battling them directly, players attempt to "throw" their Pokeball at the monster's capture area. Pokemon can be better enticed to make themselves at home in your Pokeball by throwing berries their way, as well as by aiming your throws towards the center of a smaller circle that pulses inside the capture area. Once caught, your new Pokemon will either make its way inside your party directly or will be placed inside a new, separate section of your bag - allowing you to have access to every Pokemon in your arsenal while traversing the world. Capturing Pokemon gives out experience to your party's Pokemon, with various score multipliers affecting just how much experience your Pokemon will receive.
Besides for the capture system, the only other major change to the formula is how wild Pokemon are found. Instead of randomly entering battles while running through tall grass like in earlier titles, Pokemon appear directly on the map - and are interacted with by running into them. A small, neat little tidbit is that especially small or large Pokemon (compared to their species, at least!) will have either a red or blue spark effect surrounding them, corresponding to their abnormal size.
We didn't get a chance to check out some of the game's other titular features such as Pokemon Go transfer, or the new local co-op. Outside of catching Pokemon, battles remain the same as in earlier handheld and console Pokemon titles, so there wasn't much to analyze there either. It makes sense why The Pokemon Company decided to announce both Generation 8 and Let's Go at the same time, Pokemon Go players that might've found themselves lapsed with the series might find it easier to jump back into it here, but if you were looking for something entirely new, it seems obvious that Gamefreak's first Nintendo Switch outing won't be for you. For everyone else, stay tuned as we continue our coverage of the games.