Pokémon Sword / Shield: The Crown Tundra (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Rudy Lavaux 11.11.2020 2

Review for Pokémon Sword / Shield: The Crown Tundra on Nintendo Switch

We considered the first Pokémon Sword and Shield expansion, The Isle of Armor, an interesting extension of the main game, offering lots of strategic advantages to unlock for eager players as well as some extra story content. However, ultimately, it all felt a bit too short. There were always going to be two expansions though, and since both can't be purchased separately, The Crown Tundra was always going to be part of the deal for buyers. This one theoretically brings the eighth generation of Pokémon to a close by offering the opportunity to catch all legendary Pokémon from previous generations, as a way to further appease fans who found the limited selection of Pokémon to catch in the base game to be a bit of a ripoff. Indeed, the total number of available Pokémon would then be close to 650 (a rough estimate) if counting all the legendaries that can't be registered in any of the 3 Pokédex in total. This still leaves a good chunk of all past creatures out of the picture, and capturing them without transferring them over can't be done without forking some extra dough for the Expansion Pass, but we're in a better position now than at launch, at least. Let's investigate these last eighth generation additions.

The side-story offered by this new DLC mini-campaign opens with the player arriving by train at the Crown Tundra, again from Wedgehurst Station, to meet a man named Peony and his daughter Peonia. The two of them are together in the region for a great adventure, or at least, that is Peony's plan. The overprotective nature of her father drives Peonia crazy, so she requests that the main character takes her place on this grand "Adven-Tour" of the Tundra while she takes off for a place called the Max Lair. Should the protagonist choose to follow Peonia, they would then be introduced to Dynamax Adventures, but more on this will be explained later. After meeting with Peony at the Max Lair, the player will meet him again at the village of Freezington, tasking the player with three quests involving legendary Pokémon.

The first quest is the most interesting since it introduces Calyrex, the main new legendary exclusive to this expansion, and its two steeds, Glastrier and Spectrier. Calyrex is a Psychic/Grass type, not unlike Celebi. It can fuse with either of its steeds after its quest is completed, though the hero or heroine can only choose one of the two steeds in a single playthrough of The Crown Tundra. The second of Peony's quests involves the three giants Regirock, Registeel and Regice. Each resides in a temple sealed by a riddle which the player has to solve.

After all three are captured, the way to the fourth temple unlocks which contains both Regieleki and Regidraco, both of which are new legendaries also exclusive to this expansion but, again, only one of the two can be captured in a single playthrough. The third of Peony's quests has the player travel to a giant tree where Galarian forms of the three legendary birds from Generation I can be met. The three of them will fly away to different parts of the Galar region and must be captured to complete this quest. The Psychic/Flying Articuno, Fighting/Flying Zapdos and Dark/Flying Moltres are pretty sweet looking and offer cool variations on the classic creatures for long-time fans, although they are, sadly, shiny locked.

Screenshot for Pokémon Sword / Shield: The Crown Tundra on Nintendo Switch

After these three quests, Peonia reappears as she had her fill of the Max Lair. The two depart, though not without dropping a hint that the Ultra Beasts from Generation VII games may now appear in the Max Lair, but that's about it as far as Peony's story goes. As side quests to these main events, Sonia from the main game returns, also in search of a trio of legendary Pokémon, namely Terrakion, Virizion, and Cobalion. She is encountered when the player finds some footprints early on near Freezington. This starts the search for "100% of evidence" so that her Pokémon Finder could locate said Legendaries.

This is essentially an extension of the quest for 150 Digletts in the previous DLC. Since each piece of evidence for each Pokémon is worth 2%, all evidence totals to 150 small things to discover within the game world. However, there are more prints in the DLC than what needs to be found overall, so it's way less tedious this time around. It is also worth noting that characters from the main game do acknowledge the player as the new champion of the Galar region this time, placing these events after completion of the main game. As such, Leon will call the player at some point to come to the Wyndon Stadium for a surprise. There, a new event opens up called the Galarian Star Tournament.

Hop, Marnie, Bede, and all of the Gym Leaders of the region participate in a knockout style tournament in pairs of trainers. The champion can partner with any of these characters from the main story, even with Klara and Avery from the Isle of Armor DLC, in 2 vs 2 battles that can be repeated at leisure. Winning the tournament nets the player with a whopping 1 million Pokédollars! There are a handful of extra slightly more obscure and secret missions to accomplish which are not really explained at all and left for players to discover, so those won't be spoiled here, but all of the aforementioned makes up the story-driven side of this expansion. It is ultimately rather short, like that of The Isle of Armor, but serves as a nice extension of the main story that has its moments.

Screenshot for Pokémon Sword / Shield: The Crown Tundra on Nintendo Switch

Of course, capturing the 100+ regular Pokémon returning from previous games and completing the Crown Tundra Pokédex should take quite some time. The rewards this time are maybe not exclusive enough to be worthwhile sadly, being a Replica State Crown accessory, 50 Rare Candies, 3 Gold Bottle Caps, and a mention of the feat on the player's League Card. All of this, depending on the player, may be over very quickly, especially if Pokémon that are too hard to capture for Pokédex completion are brought over from past games through Pokémon Home. The bulk of the time spent on this new expansion then will certainly be on the aforementioned Dynamax Adventures.

This new type of Raid Battle is played by 4 trainers, either with bots or with other people, online or over local communication, just like regular raid encounters. In this case, it involves picking a rental Pokémon at the start... and only this one! Therefore, each player only has one Pokémon going in and they might not necessarily be very good ones. In that sense, this has a sort of Pokémon Stadium vibe to it. All participants enter the Max Lair in search of a legendary Pokémon from previous generations that reside at the end. The legendary is random, and only one of its two possible types gets displayed on the map of the lair, only after already picking a starting rental pocket monster. The branching paths inside the lair lead to a series of preliminary raid battles with other dynamaxed Pokémon, or gigantamaxed if the species itself is capable of it.

Like with regular raid battles, after four Pokémon go down against the resident dynamaxed beast, the raid is over and players are thrown back out of the lair... except here, where there are more than one opponent to face in a row, these defeats carry over to subsequent battles, all the way to the final legendary encounter. This means that making it to the end, especially with rental Pokémon, will require some serious planning and strategizing. It is possible to swap a current rental Pokémon for one captured in the Max Lair after it has been defeated. Picking the right way through the Max Lair to swap Pokémon along the way, while choosing the path carefully to come across berries or trainers that offer a surprise rental Pokémon to trade or even items to be held in battle, is a rewarding experience.

Screenshot for Pokémon Sword / Shield: The Crown Tundra on Nintendo Switch

This is not so easily done when playing online, where players have to vote their way forward, but the rewards are very much worth it. All Pokémon encountered in the Max Lair, legendary or not, come with at least four perfect IVs guaranteed, which equals five star encounters in regular raid battles. Any Pokémon caught along the way by the player can be kept after the Max Raid is over, regardless of whether or not it was swapped in or not, so a completed Max Raid may offer up to 5 Pokémon to choose from if all were captured. Typically the legendary Pokémon will be picked, but not necessarily, as the Max Lair is also a great opportunity for shiny hunting. Indeed, the odds for the Pokémon picked at the end to be shiny are 1 in 300 and, with the shiny charm obtained for completing the main game Pokédex, 1 in 100! This reviewer got a shiny Tapu Koko in no time from this, without even trying!

Legendaries found in the Max Lair do not count towards completion of the Crown of Tundra Pokédex, however. Other than hunting for shiny legendaries or simply some with good IVs, there is little incentive to try to capture all of them, especially since those can be transferred over from previous generation games through Pokémon Home. There is another incentive to take part in Dynamax Adventures: Dynite Ore. This new currency exclusive to the Crown Tundra can be traded in for items that otherwise require a lot of Battle Points in the main game, or even for exclusive items. For example, the Ability Capsule allows a Pokémon with two possible abilities for its species to switch from one to the other. The Ability Patch does the same thing, but only for Pokémon with a possible Hidden Ability, making the latter this Pokémon's main ability. Those items are expensive, at 50 and 200 Dynite Ore respectively, but well worth the time investment for eager trainers.

Screenshot for Pokémon Sword / Shield: The Crown Tundra on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

As an expansion to the main game, The Crown Tundra offers perhaps even less varied distractions than its predecessor, The Isle of Armor, and fewer rewards or strategic advantages to unlock. However, it also potentially offers more playtime, since Dynamax Adventures are sure to keep players invested in search of a sought-after rare or legendary shiny Pokémon with good IVs. Since both expansions can't be bought separately and come bundled no matter what, both ultimately complement one another rather well. It is therefore hard to scoff at what's on offer in the Expansion Pass, although it should only be considered indispensable by the most eager Pokémon fans, who are more likely to get the most value out of it.

Expansion Pass and game review copies provided by Nintendo UK

Developer

Game Freak

Publisher

Nintendo

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now    Also on Also on Nintendo eShop

Comments

Apparently it's based on Scotland, a rarity in gaming (though we rarely get snow or ice like that!) It really makes me want to give it a go! I'm glad the expansion pass is getting good press as it seems genuinely like a decent addition for fans of the main adventure

Our member of the week

Sandy Wilson said:
Apparently it's based on Scotland, a rarity in gaming (though we rarely get snow or ice like that!) It really makes me want to give it a go! I'm glad the expansion pass is getting good press as it seems genuinely like a decent addition for fans of the main adventure

Weirdly though in this case it's at the south end of the island though XD

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

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