The Pokémon Company was not kidding about having everyone catch them all. Now that the second and final part of the Pokémon Sword and Shield Expansion Pass, The Crown Tundra, is out, it is finally time for some trainers to get down the fence and decide if they are committed with their time and effort.
When the first expansion The Isle of Armor was released in June, most of us were stuck at home, and ultimately, a tad underwhelmed with what came out. While a new picturesque island was added to the map, and the whole island was essentially a wild area filled with new Pokémons to add to the Pokédex, the storyline was a little light and weak. The Crown Tundra is Game Freak’s chance to fill that gap and hope that trainers will open up their wallet and give the franchise’s second expansion a chance. With richer quests, legendary Pokémons and new shiny treasures to improve Pokémons’ stats for competitive battles, The Crown Tundra is certainly living up to its name as the top dog, er, monster.
Upon stepping out of the Crown Tundra station and into the cold white fields, trainers will be pulled into the heated argument between ex-Gym Leader Peony and his daughter Peonia. Apparently Peony has researched a bunch of exciting legendary clues and planned to explore areas with his daughter, but Peonia is more interested in exploring the Max Lair, and preferably without her embarrassing father. Predictably, it ends with Peonia running away and trainers now become Peony’s partner in his legendary adventure, as they both share a house in the village. Well that escalated quickly.
And while Peony calls himself your partner, trainers should not be expecting him to tag along. Instead, his three legendary clues will be shoved into trainers’ hands, and you will be expected to do all the running and catching, and reporting back to him in that warm comfortable house when the clues are solved. Yet he calls you the Chief, so perhaps Peonia was right all along.
Whatever the case, the three clues themselves are the core of this expansion and the first has you locating Calyrex, the King of Bountiful Harvests. Surprisingly, finding Calyrex is not difficult at all as he appears to trainers the moment his statue is restored to its former glory. The real quest is actually helping him get his steed back, and that’s where the action starts, as you have to run about, talk to villagers, grow a plant and craft an item. No wait, this is not a crossover with another popular Nintendo game where you live with talking animals on an island but once you’re done, Calyrex will regain his steed and his godlike power.
And then you’ll catch him and keep him in a Pokéball for the rest of his life.
The second clue would be the one to get the gears in your brain turning at full power as you have to locate the four ruins scattered across the Crown Tundra and solve the puzzle on each door to unlock it. Behind each door, one treasure awaits – one of the legendary Regi Brothers.
For the third clue, trainers just have to chase after the three legendary birds – around town. Trainers, be prepared for excruciating rides up and down the Snowslide Slope for a bird, around half the Isle of Armor for another, and then from Hammerlocke Hills to Rolling Fields for the final one, all while trying to avoid running into all the wild Pokémons along the way.
Once trainers have completed the three legendary clues, they already have eight legendary Pokémons in their pocket but here’s the kicker – these are not the only legendary Pokémons that The Crown Tundra has added to the game. The only bummer is that fighting these level 70 legendary Pokémons is not as challenging as fighting the dynamax Pokémons at the Max Lair.
The Dynamax Adventures at the Max Lair is a new way to fight and catch dynamax Pokémons. Trainers assemble a team of four by inviting friends, or can opt to go solo with the slots filled up by NPCs. For safety reasons that the scientists at the Max Lair explain, trainers are not allowed to bring in their own Pokémons, so they will be offered a rental Pokémon.
Heading in, they will be confronted by crisscrossed tunnels where they have to choose their paths and fight up to three dynamax Pokémons before facing the final legendary Pokémon. Though these Pokémons do not have shields like those in the regular Max Raids, they hit harder with their aggressive attacks. It is also not an easy task to fight all of them with a single Pokémon and with no access to potions. Fortunately trainers can exchange their rental Pokémon with the dynamax Pokémons they catch in the tunnels. And at the end of the adventure, even if trainers lose to the legendary Pokémon, they can choose to keep one of the dynamax Pokémons.
All in all, players will get a solid 12-hours of play completing the three main quests, and while it feels rather short, this is already more than what The Isle of Armor offered. However the credits are not rolling just yet as trainers will now return to Wyndon Stadium for the Galarian Star Tournament.
The tournament is a nice finishing touch, and a clever way to add it to the main game, as trainers can now replay the tournament at the Wyndon Stadium anytime, as there are more Pokémons to catch, Ultra Beasts to tame in the Dynamax Adventures, Spiritomb to be found, and don’t forget to get that Galarica Wreath for your Galarian Slowpoke. These post-quest activities will continue to keep trainers busy.
Overall, The Crown Tundra is an enjoyable DLC with enchanting landscapes. Character-wise, the Peony-Peonia duo is definitely more fun than the Mustard-Honey duo in The Isle of Armor. Boomer Dad Peony’s dialogue was so cheesy but you would quickly forgive him especially after all the torture that Calyrex made him go through.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
The Crown Tundra is not just another DLC to add 100+ more Pokémons to the Pokédex and a new uniform to your wardrobe. It has found intriguing ways to add life to legendary Pokémons so that they are not another Catch-and-Go Pokémon. The Galarian Star Tournament is the icing on this cake, but who would say no to reliving the exhilaration of competing with the Gym Leaders?
Gameplay - 8/10
Story - 8/10
Presentation - 8/10
Value - 9/10