During their January ninth livestream, the Pokémon company made an announcement that came as a surprise to many fans, Pokémon Sword and Shield would receive not just one but two paid additions to the game later this year. Never before had a Pokémon game received a major content addition after launch, free or paid. Pokémon is well known for releasing enhanced versions of its most recent titles periodically, which typically do include more story content based on a legendary Pokémon in the most recent title. This is unique in the video game industry as most companies release more content as additional files, known commonly as DLC, that are downloaded via the internet and added to an existing game. Given the lack of an elusive legendary Pokémon in Sword/Shield, DLC makes sense as a way for the Pokémon Company to give people who bought the game early more to do in the Galar region, while also giving people who had been on the fence about purchasing the game more to consider. I’m sure that some people may point out that the legendary Pokémon Eterntuas could be the focus of an enhanced Sword/Shield game later, but personally, I feel that unlike Giratina in the fourth generation or Necrosma in the seventh generation Eterntuas was addressed by the main story of the game it appeared in.
Putting aside what the DLC’s existence means for the future of the series lets talk about the content that it will be bringing. As mentioned, the DLC will come in two waves, the first of which is titled “The Isle of Armor” and is slated to be released by the end of June this year. There is currently a free update to the game which includes the first couple minutes of this DLC. Beyond the playable portion available now, the Pokémon Company has revealed that this expansion will allow players to travel to the Isle of armor and “train” their starter Pokémon to undergo gigantamaxing. Gigantamaxing basically turning the cute creatures you have been traveling with into Kaiju(giant Japanese monster movie monsters) for a short period of time, changing their appearance and stats. Though I am glad to see this included, I was left wondering why it wasn’t included in the base game given that in Sun/Moon the starter Pokémon you received could make use of that games battle gimmick. I had a similar reaction to the introduction of Gigantamax Venusar and Gigantamax Blastoise which felt like an obvious inclusion along with Gigantamax Charizard. Galarian Slowpoke and the Urshifu lineup all have designs that I find better than the average for Sword/Shield.
“The Crown Tundra”, the second DLC, will be released sometime in the fall of this year. Personally, I think what we have seen of The Crown Tundra is more interesting, since it will reintroduce several missing legendary Pokémon, add two more species to the “Regi-” ‘genius’ of pokemon, and in another series first introduce regional variants for legendary Pokémon. Additional members of the “Regi” line up and alternative forms of legendary Pokémon are something fans had been thinking about for years so their inclusion is definitely exciting. Apparently, this DLC also introduces Co-Op that involves the Dynamax dens, the home of wild Gigantamax Pokemon, though not much has been reviled yet.
After the initial excitement of the news passed, I was left with mix feelings about these DLC. Each DLC pack will see a “free” update to the game that adds in over 100 Pokémon that were not present in the original game, yet they still will not appear in the wild if you don’t own the DLC. If you want a shot at catching them in-game the two DLC together will cost $29.99. These 200+ Pokémon and the 5 new Gigantamax forms that will be introduced in “The Isle of Armor” seem like content that should have been included in the base game and makes me wonder why they weren’t. Additionally, because it’s still a Pokémon game the DLC will have version exclusives. This means that if you want to get all the legendary Pokémon on top of what you will have to pay for the base game you will need to pay another $60 for each game’s DLC. Even with all this in mind, I will likely still by the DLC when it comes out because I enjoyed the base game. I know some people will buy both the game and the DLC when it comes out so they can enjoy playing the game with some of their favorite Pokémon that were initially missing. Ultimately the question comes down to whether you find paying $30 for 2 DLCs more intrusive then paying $60 for a whole new game that is largely the same a year or so down the line.