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Last year’s Pokémon Sword and Shield gobbled up plenty of time from me over the course of several weeks. By the time I’d reached the 60-hour mark, I was left feeling absolutely satisfied with Pokémon Sword’s back to basics approach, gorgeous visuals, absolute units of pocket monsters in fantastic stadium battles and the energetic wild areas that were teeming with wildlife. I still think Hop’s a bit a of a twat, but that’s a discussion for another day.

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There were some caveats along the way though, as Sword and Shield dumped many a feature along the way in order to provide a lean and mean experience on the Nintendo Switch. Gone were the mega-evolutions of Pokémon X and Y, there was no sign of Pokémon Sun and Moon’s Z-Moves and the pokedex itself had been drastically reduced in a move that incurred much wailing from a vocal minority hellbent on whinging about the lack of Bidoof within the game.

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Pokémon Sword and Shield’s first slice of major DLC Isle of Armor doesn’t fix all of those problems, but it still provides a healthy chunk of pocket monster action that hardcore fans will definitely want to have a look at.

What’s fantastic is how seamlessly the entire expansion plays out. A short ride-share with Corviknight from Wedgehurst Station and you’re planted right on the titular Isle of Armor, ready to explore a vast new wild area filled with all manner of Pokémon that you can chuck your pokeballs at. A staggering number of them can be found within various biomes, with the likes of fan favourites such as Talonflame, Luxray and Zoroark roaming the region.

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The real jewel of this renewed drive to catch ‘em all yet again, is a brand new brawlin’ bear cub by the name of Kubfu. Kubfu’s entire quest makes up the backbone of Isle of Armor’s short but sweet adventure: You’re hastily inducted into the island’s dojo, you’re given a jerkass rival to battle several times and your new sensei wants you to grow the adorable kung-fu cub into one of two mighty forms if you’re up to the challenge.

It’s quick and easy stuff, truth be told. Kubfu needs to reach level 70 before it’s ready to evolve into a specialised Fighting-type form, either the multi-hit Urshifu that gains a Water-type hybrid form or a single-strike juggernaut that mixes in a Dark-type attribute for good measure. With the region full of new Gigantamax dungeons and wild Chansey, hitting that benchmark won’t take you too long.

And that’s it.

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Isle of Armor is a breeze, one where the stakes are low and the story is brief. There are added extras of course, such as earning new customisation options, learning how to cook a mean mushroom soup that has Gigantamax benefits and even trying your hand at finding 150 stray Alolan Digletts on the island, but Isle of Armor is DLC through and through that offers little to no true endgame content.

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What Isle of Armor does, is double down on expanding the Galar region and offering more diverse areas to explore and battle within. It’s a completionist’s dream, a chilled zone and plenty of new Pokémon to capture. Provided that you keep your expectations in check, Isle of Armor is more of the same and a terrific new area to explore ahead of the more expansive Crown Tundra expansion in November.

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Last Updated: June 22, 2020

Pokemon Sword and Shield: Isle of Armor
A modest expansion to Pokémon Sword and Shield, Isle of Armor doesn’t stray away from the established formula of last year’s blockbuster game. But when the core experience was that good to begin with, more of the same is exactly what the series needs to still stay fun and fresh.
7.5
Pokemon Sword and Shield: Isle of Armor was reviewed on Nintendo Switch
69 / 100

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