Pokémon Sword/Shield’s first DLC was released last week, bringing new content to the game. I played the Sword version of this expansion, but the Shield version does have a few differences.
You start off at the Wedgehurst station, where you take to train to the Isle of Armor. When you first arrive, you immediately meet your rival, Klara (Sword version). She was hanging out in the station before Isle of Armor was released, and talking to her about the Galarian Slowpoke in Wedgehurst station will guarantee you catch that Slowpoke. She’s a bit on the looney side, often talking to herself while you’re standing there. She also engages you in battle as soon as you step foot out of the Armor station.
After beating her, she goes into this monologue about a Dojo, which she doesn’t want you to attend (because she wants be a Gym Leader and doesn’t want you to interfere). Once you reach the Dojo, you meet the Dojo Master’s wife, Honey, who is taking to Klara about your arrival.
Shortly after speaking to Honey, you’re brought before the man himself, Mustard (yes that is his name). He welcomes you to the Dojo and declares that all his students must compete for the Sacred Armor. The first trial kicks off when Klara’s uniform gets stolen by a few Slowpokes, with Mustard instructing you to get it back.
Of course, you’re the only one who manages to capture and defeat the Slowpokes. The rest of the students deem the test was unfair, so Mustard issues another trial, finding Max Mushrooms for a soup recipe. You find the needed mushrooms, but so does Klara. With the others out of the competition, you and Klara come to the final trial — a Pokémon battle. Upon you victory, Mustard give you the Sacred Armor, the Legendary Pokémon, Kubfu. You’ll also be allowed to let the first Pokémon in your party walk behind you freely.
Kubfu is a nifty little fighting Pokémon, and you’ll be choosing what path he’ll take to his next evolution.
Along your journey, there’s still plenty to see and do. The entire island is full of scenic locations, like grassy hills, marshlands, forests, beaches, a streams woven into a caves and even mini-islands in the oceans surrounding the Isle of Armor. Each area has a various Pokémon you can catch, and like the main game, some will only spawn in certain areas at certain times.
There’s also an Isle of Armor Pokédex to fill. It’s unfortunate that some of the Pokémon that inhabit the island can also be found on the mainland. It muddies up looking for new(ish) Pokémon and takes away from the experience of being in a new area. Although, seeing past favorites like Chansey and Wigglypuff roaming around in the grass, brings distant memories of original games to the surface. For me, it’s the nostalgia of seeing some of my favorite Pokémon from the past coming back 20 years later — even if they’re outdated relics.
A plethora of Raid dens are scatter around the island, its oceans and even its caves. The whole place feels like one giant Wild Area and the Raids do contain the new Pokémon, as well as the mainland Pokémon that spawn on the island.
Aside from the Pokémon, there are a few items that are only available on the Isle of Armor. This includes the Exp. Charm, which raises the amount of XP your party earns, Galarica Twigs that help Slowpoke evolve and the last but most important addition, Apricorns. This isn’t the first time Apricorns have appeared in a Pokémon title, but they give a new way to get Poké Balls through the Cram-o-matic.
The Cram-o-matic is a machine designed by Mustard’s son, Hyde. He’s a wizard when it comes to engineering and technology, and he’s built this machine that resemble the Cramorant Pokémon. Essentially, it’s an item generator, and plugging in any variation of the seven colored Apricorns will net you a one of the many Poké Balls in the game. The different colors signify the type of ball that will be given out. Hint: using one color of Apricorn in the machine gives you better chances of getting rarer balls.
This machine can also combine Berries and Treasures. What you put in will affect what comes out, resulting in items like Wishing Pieces, Powders, TR’s and Treasures, among others. The Isle of Armor also brought new customization options, including new designs for bikes and a bunch of new clothing items for your character. There isn’t any boutiques on the island, but the ones on the mainland have several new items.
One of the new items in the game is Armorite Ore. It can be randomly found laying around and has several uses. You can give it to a student outside the Dojo in exchange for moves or you can give it to two new diggers, Digging Ma and Digging Pa.
These two are the parents to the Digging Duo in the main section of the game. Giving Digging Ma the ore lets her dig for more ore until her shovel breaks. If you stop before it breaks, you’ll get all the ore she dug up; wait to long and you’ll get nothing. Digging Pa takes ore in exchange for digging up Watts. He typically dig up 800 to 8,000 Watts, but sometimes he’ll get a burst of energy that gives 5,000 Watts each time he digs.
There are a few other characters you’ll meet on the island, including a trainer form Alola who’s standing near the first bridge you come across. He asks you to collect his Digletts. The catch? There are 150 of them to find. At least a few in every location of the island, including the tiny islands surrounding. They can be tricky to spot, as only three little hairs, and a small portion of their heads, poke through the ground. I found myself wandering around for several hours looking for these cuties and it was a welcome distraction from the endless battles.
All in all, the Isle of Armor expansion offers more of the same experience of the main game, but with a few twists. Old players will feel the nostalgia, while still benefiting from the technology of our time. New players get a chance to step a toe back in time. It’s honestly surprising how much content was added, considering this is only the first expansion to be released. Of course, the game has its own quirks, but the amount you get in return is well worth it.