Pokémon Sword and Shield DLC ‘Isle of Armor’ is charming but shallow

Sword and Shield's first DLC has arrived

The Pokémon series has a well-known formula that it’s been following for nearly 25 years.

There are always two main games showcasing new Pocket Monsters, as well as a third game — or in some cases two extra games — with a slightly altered story, a focus on a different legendary and new features.

This time around — and for the first-time-ever — the Pokémon Company has decided to launch downloadable content for its latest main-series games, Pokémon Sword and Shield. The first of the two DLCs, Isle of Armor, launched on June 17th and brought more than 100 beloved Pokémon from previous iterations, a new story, a new area to explore, a couple of new Galarian forms and a new Legendary Pokémon named Kubfu that can evolve into two different forms.

But even with these welcome additions, Isle of Armor still feels lacklustre. Before I get into it, it’s important to note that to get the DLC you need to purchase the $37.79 CAD expansion pass that includes The Isle of Armor and the upcoming The Crown of Tundra DLC.

This is definitely a lot cheaper than purchasing an entirely new game — for example, Pokémon Crystal or Emerald — so regardless of how disappointing I might have found parts of The Isle of Armor, the fact it only costs $18 is something I feel is important to keep in mind.

An island full of life

I’ll start with one of the best parts of The Isle of Armor.

The entire island consists of an area similar to the ‘Wild Area’ from Pokémon Sword and Shield. I love Isle of Armor’s take on this concept because the island is full of different biomes, which is entirely different from the original Wild Area. The Isle of Armor specifically features forests, an ocean, a couple of caves, a mountainous area and a meadow.

Additionally, The Isle of Armor doesn’t suffer from the slow-down issues I experienced in Sword and Shield’s Wild Area, even when you’re online.

Also, another experience appreciated about The Isle of Armor is after completing a couple of challenges, you’re able to walk around with a Pocket Monster behind you. This feature is available in Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee, but didn’t make it into Sword and Shield.

It was great to see my Pokémon following behind me again, but this feature is only available on the new island. When you head back to the main region, your Pokémon jump back into their Pokéballs.

Something’s MissingNo.

The new area is filled with returning favourite Pokémon like Marill, Scizor and Shinx, as well as tons of items and chances to participate in raid battles, but unfortunately, it’s lacking trainers.

Similar to the original Wild Area, there aren’t many trainers to face and because of that, Isle of Armor feels unsatisfying. If this area included a handful of challenging trainers, I definitely would have enjoyed the experience far more. And, unfortunately, there are other things about The Isle of Armor that disappointed me as well.

A lot of Pokémon, not much of a challenge

When you make your trek to the Isle of Armor, you’re thrust into the main storyline immediately (you take a train to the island, which doesn’t make a lot of sense). You meet charismatic trainers, including either Avery or Klara, depending on whether you have Sword or Shield, and the Master of a famous Dojo, Mustard. Mustard was the man who trained Leon, the undefeatable Champion, until you, the player, takes him down.

The main storyline of Isle of Armor involves battling mostly Klara or Avery, fighting incredibly quick Slowpokes, gathering mushrooms and looking at the beautiful landscape with a special Legendary Pokémon you attain. It primarily consists of silly fetch quests, but I found that okay because they aren’t tedious.

Unfortunately, the DLC is incredibly short. Isle of Armor took me about three hours to complete, and I took my time. Other than Klara/Avery and Mustard, no other trainer has more than one Pokémon, and only one of these about 11 or 12 battles is even the least bit challenging.

Additionally, before you can face the Towers, you need to level up your new Legendary Pokémon Kubfu to level 70, which would probably be a hassle, but Pokémon Sword and Shield makes it easier than ever to level up your monsters with unlimited access to experience candies after participating in raid battles.

A fan who just wants more battles

Overall, I had fun with The Isle of Armor, and I’d say it’s enjoyable for what it is. That said, I expected more from this DLC, including a longer story, battles against more challenging trainers, higher-level wild Pokémon to catch and a few surprise Galarian monsters.

The Isle of Armor has more than 100 old favourites that I was excited to catch, new items, the ability to Gigantimax your starters, as well as Venusaur and Blastoise. Additionally, the DLC features a beautiful and diverse new island that’s a joy to roam around.

Crown of Tundra, Pokémon Sword and Shield’s second DLC, is set to release this fall. Pokémon Sword and Shield’s Expansion Pass, which includes The Isle of Armor and Crown of Tundra, costs $37.79 CAD.

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