So another trailer is out and we’ve finally gotten a better look at the story. It seems like mostly good news too, as there are some very notable differences to the plot of Sun and Moon.
Since it is a story trailer, mainly, there is a lot of focus on the cutscenes you’ll see in the game. Pokémon has only gotten more and more cinematic and part of me is kinda happy to see that, while a big part of me also utterly hates it.
I want to see a story play out as more than text boxes and jiggling sprites. I want to see cutscenes with Pokémon roaming around or scarring the landscape during a fight.
That being said, I don’t think the writing for Pokémon is remotely good enough to justify making us sit through cutscenes. It’s barely enough to justify the long-winded exposition it dives into at times, especially in Sun and Moon.
Now there’s a few things that make the writing such an annoyance. Part of it is some pretty bad localization, since nobody talks or behaves even remotely like a human being might. Then again, I’ve been assured that it’s not much better in the original Japanese. The bigger problem is the lack of stakes.
Let me ask you a question. Did you even remotely care about what was going on in Sun and Moon? How about X and Y?
At least Ruby and Sapphire lay it out early. These people are nuts and if they wake up the legendary Pokémon, they will either flood the world or dry it out entirely. Also, there’s a giant meteorite heading this way. Bam! Threat established.
The more recent games have a real problem explaining why you should give a damn about what the evil team or organization you’re dealing with is doing. Typically it’s only near the end when you learn that there just happens to be some super weapon that wasn’t really mentioned up until this point.
Sun and Moon were particularly bad. “Oh dear, If Lusamine does this then there will be Ultra beasts everywhere and...Uh...we’ve already seen they can be defeated without too much trouble and...uh...Why am I supposed to care?”
So yeah, I like that the way Pokémon tells its story is evolving (sorry, I’ll stand in the corner), but I wish they would focus on quality first.
Moving on to better news, we see in the trailer that we will actually be exploring Ultra Space on the back of Solgaleo or Lunala in these games.
This is easily the coolest thing we’ve seen so far. The trailer shows the player diving into different wormholes and finding alternate worlds, some of which are the home realm of ultra beasts. This is clearly the main way you will find the ultra beasts this time around and it will probably be part of the post-game.
It is a cool new feature that seems very similar to the soaring mechanic of Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby, though a bit less practical as you (seemingly) can’t use it to travel the map. The bad news is that, as mentioned in a previous article, this might mean that the mantine surfing is exactly as linear as it seemed.
The trailer also gives us a bit more information on our new ultra beasts, UB Assembly and UB Burst.
As expected, UB Assembly is a rock/steel-type clearly intended to set up walls and tank. That being said, we’re going to go ahead and call it a terrible Pokémon.
A 4x weakness to ground and fighting isn’t great for any Pokémon that is supposed to be a tank, given how prevailant moves like earthquake, focus blast and close combat are.
With a ghost/fire typing, UB Burst is looking a lot better and it even gets a unique move called Mind Blown. Said move does require it to halve its health, but pressumably does a ton of damage too.
Weirdly, the games’ website mentions that likes to steal its opponents’ vitality. Currently, there are no ghost or fire-type moves that can drain health, but maybe this just means it can learn moves like Giga Drain.
However, it could also mean that UB Burst has a pretty interesting Beast Boost. All Ultra beasts share this ability, which increases their best stat when they knock an opponent out. Most stats are covered by other ultra beasts, for example Xurkitree gets a special attack boost with each KO whereas Nihilego gets a special defence boost. So maybe UB Burst’s boost could be health. Maybe it gets healed when it knocks something out?
Speaking of ultra beasts, we have one more to talk about. The poison-type, UB Adhesive.
We can’t say much in terms of stats or what role it might serve on a team, but we can say it is easily the cutest ultra beast so far. Not only that, but it has something else that sets it apart.
In the trailer, UB Adhesive actually has a trainer and this brings us to the other major reveal of the trailer. The Ultra Recon Squad.
These guys come from an alternate world and arrive in Alola through an ultra wormhole somehow. What they want is currently not entirely clear, but they seem pretty interested in Necrozma.
You clearly fight some of their members, so they might be antagonists at first. However, I think they are very likely to be antagonist by circumstance rather than by choice.
See, the trailer also reveals Ultra Megalopolis (the world ultra is losing all meaning the more I write it), which is a world where Necrozma has stolen the light...somehow. The trailer is not super clear on how that is supposed to work.
Maybe the Recon Squad comes from this world and they are simply tracking Necrozma in the hopes of fixing things? It could make for a pretty cool story where they are simply fighting you more out of desperation than malice.
So far we’ve seen four members named Dulse, Zossie, Soliera and Phyco. However, Dulse and Zossie are exclusive to Ultra Sun and Soliera and Phyco will only appear in Ultra Moon.
An entirely new team of (possible) antagonists isn’t really something we’ve seen before in an updated version like these games, so this is a pretty cool change!
So at last the trailer has shown us more reasons to buy these games instead of replaying Sun and Moon and imagining a story with Necrozma. I would have massively prefered new Alolan forms, rather than new ultra beasts, but I am one of those weird people who thinks running a legendary either in the game or competitively is incredibly lame.
The ultra beasts aren’t really any more interesting than legendaries, at least to me, so new ones were probably never going to be a good selling point in my case.
That being said, this trailer has shown off some really cool things and finally cleared up that haze of disappointment that hung around Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon a bit.
I’m still not totally feeling it, but I’m a bit more hyped than I was at least.